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Series III: The Gospel and Epistles of John
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Series III:  The Gospel and Epistles of John

Year three is devoted to the fourth and the most subtle of the Gospels.  John's writings are rich with symbol and insight.  Indeed John captures the irony of all that takes place when the Eternal Word, who was with God in the beginning and who was God, comes among His people, but His own do not recognize Him.  He is the true "Lamb of God" who takes away the sins of the world, the sacrificial victim who gives his life as a ransom for many.  He is the servant of Yahweh whose death reconciles us to the Father. Even as He is handed over to the Romans on the eve of Passover, it is He who gives himself, not the Romans who take his life from him.

John's Gospel was written at the end of the first century.  It is renowned for its "high Christology" in which Christ is identified as the Eternal Logos right from the first verse.  The symbol for John's Gospel is the eagle, a winged creature that is able to soar to great heights and whose keen vision is able to penetrate to the depths of the earth.   In a similar way, John's portrait of the Messiah shows Him descending from the bosom of the Father and revealing His Kingdom through a series of signs. Each of these signs also reveals something of the identity of this Messiah: He is the Bridegroom of Israel, the Living Water, the Light of the World and the Bread of Life whose flesh gives life to the world.  Even before Abraham, He existed: "I tell you most solemnly, before Abraham was, I AM" (8:58).  He is the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for His sheep, the Resurrection and the Life and the Way, the Truth and the Life.  He is the One who makes us whole.

In the second part of John's Gospel we are present at the Last Supper as Jesus washes the feet of His disciples and bids us farewell in the Last Supper discourse, promising not to leave us orphans, but to send the Helper, the Advocate who will lead us in the way of Truth.  This promise is fulfilled as our Lord breathes His last on the cross and commends His spirit into the hands of the Father.  But on the third day when He is risen, He appears to the Apostles and breathes His spirit upon them saying, "Receive the Holy Spirit, whose sins you forgive they shall be forgiven, whose sins you retain, they shall be retained."  John makes it clear that Jesus did and said many other things, but he who was an eyewitness to these things has written them for us in order that all may know that "Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing this you may have life through His name" (John 20:31). In the second part of John's Gospel we are present at the Last Supper as Jesus washes the feet of His disciples and bids us farewell in the Last Supper discourse, promising not to leave us orphans, but to send the Helper, the Advocate who will lead us in the way of Truth.  This promise is fulfilled as our Lord breathes His last on the cross and commends His spirit into the hands of the Father.  But on the third day when He is risen, He appears to the Apostles and breathes His spirit upon them saying, "Receive the Holy Spirit, whose sins you forgive they shall be forgiven, whose sins you retain, they shall be retained."  John makes it clear that Jesus did and said many other things, but he who was an eyewitness to these things has written them for us in order that all may know that "Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing this you may have life through His name" (John 20:31).

The second ending of John's Gospel, chapter 21, records the Resurrection appearance of our Lord to His apostles on the shore of the sea of Galilee after they had returned to their nets and are once again out fishing.  In the moving passage, Peter who has denied Christ three times, is asked three times by our Lord, "Simon son of John, do you love me?"  Each time our LORD confirmed Peter in his vocation to "feed my lambs, tend my sheep."  We too are called to enter into the drama of this Gospel as we journey with Jesus three times to Jerusalem and after the final time, from Jerusalem so that we may be witnesses to His Resurrection.

John is an elder in the Church at Ephesus. He writes to other churches that are troubled by a heretical sect, which denies that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh.   In so doing, they are playing into the hands of the anti-Christ because for them Salvation depends upon secret knowledge and is given only to a few.  John is a witness to what he has seen with his eyes, touched with his hands and heard with his ears, the Word who is Life.  Now our joy is complete in Him!

Series III: John contains 25 complete lessons.

 

  
 
 
 
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