I don’t know if you know this, but John was the last gospel written. Mark was first, followed by Matthew, then Luke and then by John, but quite a bit later, possibly around 65 AD. The only reason I mention this is because John contains information and details not found in the other gospels, information that John deemed important enough to include where the other gospel authors did not.
There is also some sense that John includes some more difficult teachings of Jesus than the other gospels. Certainly, each of the gospels has a particular perspective based on the experience of the author with Jesus, much the same way that each of us would have a slightly different way of talking about who Jesus is based on our personal experience of him. One person may identify Jesus more as the shepherd, while others would identify more with the imagery of Lord, while another might identify more with Jesus as the giver of grace. All of those perceptions are correct, but one may have more emphasis for someone than others.
The same is true in the gospels. Matthew tends to focus on Jesus as the Kingly descendent of David, while Mark tends to be more interested in Jesus as the authoritative Son of God. Luke is interested in arguing a case for Jesus as the prophesized Messiah who came to save all people through the power of God. John is interested in defending and maintaining the divinity of Jesus. It is John that affirms Jesus’ existence before creation.
We see this in our reading for today. Jesus’ interaction with the Pharisees and religious leaders in these two chapters demonstrate Jesus’ insistence that he was sent from God to speak truth, truth that predates Abraham and Moses, and yet the Jews are unable and unwilling to grasp this. If you think about it, what Jesus is saying to the Pharisees in these chapters is pretty plain, at least to us reading these words on this side of the cross. But to the Jewish religious leaders at the time, what Jesus was saying was beyond belief, blasphemous.
I find one thing kind of funny. Towards the end of chapter 7, quite a lot is made of Jesus coming from Galilee (an area in Israel that had a bad reputation). He can’t possibly be a prophet, let alone the Messiah, because he is from Galilee (John 7:52). What is ironic in these chapters is that Jesus keeps telling them that he is from “his Father” (God), but they keep confusing his earthly origin with his actual origin. Here again, John is giving us the information we need to identify Jesus, not as the son of Joseph who was called to be a prophet, but as the Son of God who has existed from before creation.
As you read the gospels, pay attention to the different focus of each writer, and then maybe think about who Jesus is to you because of your experience of him.
- What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
- What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
- Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
- How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
- What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?
Tomorrow’s Reading: John 9:1-10:21