How John Saw Jesus – Part 1
Recently, a dear friend shared a paper she wrote with me. I was so impressed with the content and her writing that I asked her permission to share it here. It isn’t my typical content, but I think it’s extremely valuable and I hope my readers will find it so as well. Without further ado, I give you “The Gospel According to John” by Karen Murano.
The Gospel according to John is a captivating testimony of eyewitness accounts as John followed Jesus (closely) during his earthly ministry. He draws the reader in with what feels like an ongoing invitation to relationally connect with God’s beloved Son, to be transformed by his love, and to find life in Him alone. He consistently weaves the identity of Jesus as the Christ throughout his account and leaves no doubt that Jesus accomplished the will of the Father as the incarnate Messiah.
His introduction is mind-blowing and beautiful with transcendent words into what continues to fascinate humanity to this day: origin, identity, and purpose (Jesus was, is, and eternally will be [our] divine King). The riveting touch-back to Genesis 1:1 with the beginning in his opening lines cannot be glazed over; they offer an anchor point for the rest of his account that tells of the incarnate King who came to rescue mankind.
He gets down to business in the first chapter with the testimony of John the Baptist proclaiming Jesus as the Lamb of God. This particular verse stands out to me as a sort of banner that the rest of the book supports with evidence to that end. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”. 1:14, As a basic outline, this is a sampling of his flow and context, but there are so many more details that could be included.
John lays out seven miraculous signs between chapters 2 and 11. They demonstrate Jesus’ focused desire to always honor the will of the Father 6:38. Interlaced with these signs are seven “I am” statements that metaphorically point to Jesus’ identity as the Messiah, between chapters 6 -15. Several chapters are dedicated to the final week before his crucifixion beginning in ch 12:1: “Six days before the Passover…”.
The narrative slows down for several chapters to capture very important details: Mary anoints Jesus with a fragrant oil 12:3, and the crowd cheered his entrance on a donkey into Jerusalem, “So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” 12:13 Before the crowd he was troubled, crying out to the Lord Who glorified him, and He declared: And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” (fulfilling three prophecies v7, 14, 32). Jesus proceeds to draw them especially close to him to prepare them for a very hard week. He shocks the disciples (especially Peter) with an unheard of example of servant leadership by washing their feet 13:4,13-14. He teaches them a new commandment of love 13:34. In ch 14:6, Jesus presses in and makes a profound and divine declaration: “I am the way, truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me”. Which he follows up with: “If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” 14:7 He teaches this one more “I am” statement: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.”15:1 so that they understand what it means to abide in Him.
Chapter 16 has hard teaching in it but it was necessary to explain the Helper, whom He will send, their sorrow that will turn to joy, and once again he helps them make the leap to know who He truly is. In ch 17, Jesus prays to the Father for himself and for every follower in the most loving and vulnerable way, reinforcing the testimony that Jesus is the Son of God and how he glorifies the Father in all things. (That prayer is so pure and heart-warming it always brings me to tears.)
Chapters 18 – 19 narrate the betrayal, brutal trial and flogging, and then his crucifixion, which John personally attended. An interesting insight about the trial and crucifixion is that the gospel accounts kind of skirt past the brutality of these scenes. Not because it wasn’t remarkable, but the reality of death was so commonplace it was kind of a non-event, especially because it was typically so public, so the people of that day were desensitized. John does lay out important details and the imagination is stirred as he describes what must have been visually striking moments. The post-modern church has a very small tolerance for the word death, nevermind attending such an event. It is important to note that our gospel writer, John, was the only one at the crucifixion as an eye-witness.
To conclude the outline and overview of this gospel we find John slows the narrative down again for some important encounters and to capture the gravity of the moments.. There is something special about firsts that are highlighted in scripture, “On the first day of the week …” 20:1. John is rather keen to begin the culmination of his testimony with a dramatic sunrise scene. He reintroduces Mary Magdalene at the tomb, her confusion about finding the Rabbi, and his announcement that He is ascending to the Father. “Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.” 20:18 (What a beautiful expression of love to reveal himself first to a woman, valuing her testimony even though the modern day culture would not accept the words of any woman.) They all bear witness to the evidence of the prophesied miracle, indeed the greatest miracle of all: an empty tomb – Jesus is risen! We find three strategic and very personal visits by Jesus to help the disciples understand: He explains He is sending them just as the Father sent Him. Thomas was allowed to examine and touch his physical wounds. Jesus then breathed on them the Holy Spirit. 20:22 John concludes his gospel in ch 21 with a beautiful epilogue testifying to the truth of his eyewitness accounts, and that much more could have been written.
Clearly, he intentionally crafted his selections of content based on experiences that deeply impacted him and many others. The patterns, structure, and focus in his gospel account unashamedly declare that Jesus is the human and divine King, and that his beloved followers will rule and reign with him, forever.