In Whose Hands?

We arrived back from California last night and I jumped into teaching my Thursday class on the Gospel of John.

The Gospel itself is fascinating enough. But I have become even more interested in John himself — writer, theologian, artist, churchman.

We’ve gone to great lengths in this class to describe just how different John’s Gospel is from Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Differences in timeline, tone, and content. John arranges all his material to reinforce the purpose statement of the book in 20:31: “… but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

When you know that is his reason for writing, you’ll see clues in almost every section of the book. Believe. Life. Life. Believe. The purpose defines what stories John includes and in what order he includes them.

All of which gave rise to an interesting question in our class: “Is Jesus in John’s hands in the gospel, serving to advance John’s agenda? Or is John in Jesus’ hands, serving to advance his agenda?” Hmmmmm.

Or is there some of both?

When you learn to read the bible not only for its teaching but also with an eye to its artistry, you get to wrestle with questions like that again and again.