I’ve decided that the gospel of John is like that computer generated art that was popular many years ago. I don’t know if you remember. It was so primitive by today’s standards that I can’t even google it. So anyway what it was was (apologies to the memory of Andy Griffith) this picture that looked like a consistent pattern of colored squares but if you changed your focus you could see a 3D image, maybe something like an eagle in flight. They were a big deal for a while, back in the nineties I guess. Deck the Walls had them. I had trouble with them. Couldn’t see the image. Couldn’t change my focus.
So what does that have to do with the gospel of John? John’s gospel is a narrative of Jesus’ earthly ministry but it’s not an eyewitness chronology like the other gospels. John was writing to make a statement: Jesus was (and is) the Son of God. So the gospel of John is different to begin with. But I wonder if there is something more. I wonder if we change our focus, if we go deeper…
In the first chapter John the Baptist’s disciples witness Jesus’ baptism and follow Him. Jesus turns to them and says, “What are you seeking?” So why were they following? What were they seeking?
To begin with they were seeking a teacher, a religious leader. They called Him Rabbi. But more than that they were probably looking for the Messiah. John called Him the lamb that takes away the sin of the world. Everyone was looking for the Messiah. The Messiah would be a political leader, a commander of armies. He would kick out the Romans and restore the kingdom of David and of Solomon. That’s why they followed. That’s what they were seeking.
So that was a legitimate question, wasn’t it? What are you seeking? They were looking for someone who would restore the fortunes of one nation, one people. But Jesus had so much more in mind. He had in mind the whole world, the whole of mankind. But it wasn’t so much something more as it was something different, something completely different. In the gospel of Matthew Jesus talks about the kingdom of God. Is the kingdom of God a righteous kingdom that exists within the larger scope of a righteous society? Or is it a kingdom that lives, survives, and thrives in spite of a society that runs headlong in the opposite direction?
So what are you looking for? A political leader? A commander of an army? Or something different? Something more?
In the words of that great theologian Mick Jagger ‘You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometime, you just might find, you get what you need’. Maybe what we want is not what we need.
The disciples said, “Where are you staying?” Jesus said, “Come and you will see.”