ImmerseMessiah NLT - Flipbook - Page 409
IMMERSED IN JOHN
“The Jewish leaders . . . announced that anyone saying Jesus
was the Messiah would be expelled from the synagogue.”
A generation after Jesus lived on earth, his followers continued to face
threats like this one recorded in the Gospel of John. And this is one
key reason why the book was written. For Jews living throughout the
Roman Empire, the local synagogue gave them an ongoing connection
to their ancient story and people. Expulsion from the synagogue meant
being cut off from the community that had embodied God’s covenant
people for centuries.
But John’s Gospel assures followers of Jesus that they have not
been excluded from God’s Story. Jesus embodies the deepest meaning and ultimate fulfillment of Israel’s most vital symbols, festivals, and
practices. The Gospel’s opening line (“In the beginning”) echoes the
opening words of Genesis, revealing that John is telling a story of new
creation. God’s ongoing work to restore his world through Abraham’s
family finds its continuity in the work of Jesus the Messiah.
John’s Gospel reads very differently from the other three, being less
a narrative biography and more a portrait of Jesus drawn against the
backdrop of Israel’s history. Its purpose is to invite readers, both ancient
and present, to be confident in their belief that “Jesus is the Messiah,
the Son of God.”
The author of the book (traditionally considered to be the apostle John,
though he doesn’t identify himself by name) tells the story of Jesus’ life
in two major parts.
The first part has seven sections. Each relates what happened when
Jesus took a journey and explores his identity in light of a key element
from Israel’s story. The centerpiece of this part of the book is the fourth
section; the other six sections are paired with one another thematically
from the outside in, as shown below.