It may have become apparent that every Wednesday this blog gets an update having previously been fairly dead, and my Twitter feed gets a #johnblog tweet. No one has voiced the question (hey, perhaps no one has even noticed!) but I thought I’d answer it anyway. What is #johnblog, when is it appearing, and why?
#johnblog is a blog … about John…
The clue is in the title, but like every good hashtag it needs a bit of clarification. No, I’m not blogging about a guy called John (not directly anyway), I’m simply writing a regular blog to share some thoughts on the sections of John’s gospel that we’re studying in our weekly Bible studies at the church in London of which I’m a part. It’s partly an opportunity for me to keep reflecting on the things I’ve been learning, partly a chance for me to get better at expressing them, but particularly a chance for others – whether they were there or not – to think about the important things John has to say.
And so, every Wednesday after the study is finished, a blog article should go up to share the big truth the passage is teaching, and to put a little thought into the difference it makes. Often there will even be a bonus article (perhaps more!) in order to give a bit more space for the content to be aired, which will appear later in the week.
But my hope is that week by week, #johnblog will provide space for Christians and those investigating to engage with the words of John’s account of Jesus’ life, and consider for themselves the amazing implications of His life, death and resurrection.
Two guiding principles
To help consider these implications, it’s worth noting a couple of key features of John’s gospel:
#1 – John has an explicit purpose, which he shares in John 20:30-31, “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples which are not written in this book, but these are written 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.”
This is fairly straightforward and immediately apparent – when he says “these are written…”, it’s hard to deny that he had a purpose in writing, and that his purpose in writing was “so that you may believe…”. It’s helpful, then, to consider throughout the book, how does this tie into John’s big aim?
#2 – John has split his material up into three key sections – chapters 2-4, 5-10 and 11-21
This will become increasingly evident (and important) as we go through, but it’s worth noting that from the start, John flags up specific sections of material, bracketed by “signs”1. These signs form the marker posts to flag the beginning and end of sections. So, after his introduction (and before his epilogue), John creates three bracketed sections of increasing length, and it’s useful to think about the material contained within each section as a particular block of teaching.
This principle is made explicit in the first section. Look for example at 2:11 – “This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory.” John draws particular attention to the sign. Then look on to 4:46 – “So he came again to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine.” And 4:54 – “This was now the second sign that Jesus did when he had come from Judea to Galilee”.
Not only does John draw particular attention to these miracles as “signs”, but he also shows that they work as a pair – making reference to them as the “first” and “second” signs, both happening at Cana in Galilee. These help to identify the bookends of the section, and set the pattern for the rest of the book.
So as we go through, we’ll start to fill out this diagram:
That’s plenty by way of introduction. You can check out each section in the series by clicking on the slider below, or why not get reading: start from the beginning, or catch the most recent post here.
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