Talking Points on the Gospel of John

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I like how it only took 30 years for the story of Jesus to be transformed from apocalyptic good news about the Kingdom of God to a man obsessed with having other people recognize his unique status in relation to God.

The disciples initially follow Jesus in chapter 1 because they recognize him to be the Messiah, the Son of God. However, Mark’s Jesus merely announces the approaching kingdom, and the disciples come.

The chronology of John is difficult to understand. Most scholars agree one of the key events that precipitated the crucifixion was the clearing of the Temple, yet John narrates this story early on in his gospel.

There are a couple of episodes in John’s gospel where Jesus can read minds. Whether telling Nathaniel that he saw him under the fig tree or informing the Samaritan woman about her multiple affairs, Jesus looks like a psychic.

Everyone knows the story where Jesus heals the lame man at the pool. However, the last verse confused me, “Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.”

Yet in chapter 9 regarding the blind man he says, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.”

Perhaps I’m reading the first quote incorrectly. However, it seems to me that Jesus is suggesting that sin was responsible for the lame man’s condition. Also, the whole therapeutic pool stirring aspect of that narrative is rather bizarre.

I really liked these verses in John 9. Still others asked, “How can the Christ come from Galilee? Does not the Scripture say that the Christ will come from David’s family and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?”Thus the people were divided because of Jesus. Some wanted to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him”

I remember reading a Bible commentary when I was younger that argued this passage was intentionally ironic. However, I suspect that this is a rather grave misstep on John’s part. He didn’t bother going through all the imaginative gymnastic to make Jesus be born in Bethlehem. Obviously, this passage reveals that Jesus was not actually born in Bethlehem. Not that John would really care.

This is a fun exercise if you want to piss of someone that believes in the infallibility of the Bible. Ask them how we got a record of Jesus and Pilate’s dialogue in John 19? Other than pulling the special revelation trump card, they would have to argue that some scribe after Jesus resurrected asked him, “Hey Jesus, so I couldn’t quite make out what you and Pilate said before the crucifixion? Could you recount that for me, oh yes, and word for word please?”

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