I lead a discussion group every Wednesday evening (after Wednesday church) called Theology on Tap at a local pizza pub called “Your Pizza Shop” for an informal discussion about theology, culture, and missional living.
We’re starting a new discussion series tackling the themes from the Gospel of John. The Gospel of John is distinct from the three synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, & Luke). This telling of Jesus’ redemptive life and work is a telling of a story – God’s plan to recreate/renew through his Messiah – with a story – the life of Christ. John masterfully and creatively reveals Christ as all we could ever want and need.
Eugene Peterson introduces this Gospel well in his intro. to John in The Message:
In Genesis, the first book of the Bible, God is presented as speaking the creation into existence. God speaks the word and it happens: heaven and earth, ocean and stream, trees and grass, birds and fish, animals and humans. Everything, seen and unseen, called into being by God's spoken word.
In deliberate parallel to the opening words of Genesis, John presents God as speaking salvation into existence. This time God's word takes on human form and enters history in the person of Jesus. Jesus speaks the word and it happens: forgiveness and judgment, healing and illumination, mercy and grace, joy and love, freedom and resurrection. Everything broken and fallen, sinful and diseased, called into salvation by God's spoken word.
For, somewhere along the line things went wrong (Genesis tells that story, too) and are in desperate need of fixing. The fixing is all accomplished by speaking— God speaking salvation into being in the person of Jesus. Jesus, in this account, not only speaks the word of God; he is the Word of God.
Keeping company with these words, we begin to realize that our words are more important than we ever supposed. Saying "I believe," for instance, marks the difference between life and death. Our words accrue dignity and gravity in conversations with Jesus. For Jesus doesn't impose salvation as a solution; he narrates salvation into being through leisurely conversation, intimate personal relationships, compassionate responses, passionate prayer, and— putting it all together—a sacrificial death. We don't casually walk away from words like that.
Here are some helpful resources to help you better understand the Gospel of John:
John for Everyone Pt. 1 – Tom Wright
John for Everyone Pt. 2 – Tom Wright
The Message of the Gospel of John – Eugene Peterson
The Gospel of John – F.F. Bruce