John: The Gospel of Christianity

Home Revised Standard Outlines Interpretation 1 Interpretation 2 Interpretation 3 Interpretation 4 Interpretation 5 Interpretation 6 Interpretation 7 Interpretation 8 Interpretation 9 Interpretation 10 Interpretation 12 Interpretation 13 Interpretation 14 Interpretation 15 Interpretation 16 Interpretation 17 Interpretation 18 Interpretation 19 Interpretation 20 Interpretation 21 Conclusion Links

Send mail to crain@missouriwestern.edu with questions or comments about this web site.
  Copyright © 2001 Jeanie C. Crain
Last modified: March, 2002

http://crain.english.missouriwestern.edu/Jesus

In beginning this work on John: The Gospel of Christianity, I refer the reader to a work I have already completed which introduces Jesus through the four Christian gospels. John, written late in the development of first century Christianity, is the gospel of Christianity more so than it is the life of Jesus. That is, Jesus the Galilean has become the Christ of Christianity. Christians, rightfully, cling to this gospel and often prefer it above the others. Alfred Edersheim explains why: “the fourth gospel became, not the supplement, but the complement of the other three” (39, 1993 Hendrickson Publishers). In John, Jesus becomes the Logos, God made flesh. Thus, although John  exhibits clearly Hellenistic flavors, the writer strikes the pen through Alexandrianism:

There is no other gospel more Palestinian than this in its mode of expression, allusions, and references. Yet we must all feel how thoroughly Hellenistic it also is in its cast—in what it reports and what it omits—in short, in its whole aim: how adapted to Hellenist wants its presentation of deep central truths; how suitably, in the report of His Discourses—even so far as their form is concerned—the promise was here fulfilled, of bringing all things to remembrance whatsoever He had said (John 14.26).  It is the true Light which shineth, of which the full meridian-blaze lies on the Hellenist and the Hellenic world. There is Alexandrine form of thought not only in the whole conception, but in the Logos, and in His presentation as the Light, the Life, and the Wellspring of the world.   But these forms are filled in the fourth Gospel with quite other substance.  God is not afar off, uncognisable by man, without properties, without name.  He is the Father. Instead of a nebulous reflection of the Deity we have the person of the Logos; not a Logos with the two potencies of goodness and power, but full of grace and truth… St. John strikes the pen through Alexandrianism when he lays it down as the fundamental fact of New Testament history that ‘the Logos was made flesh’” (39).

 John understands the destiny and outcome of realizing the Kingdom of God in the present world; he understands the full impact of Jesus’ new and universalized Kingdom of God.  Reading John, one begins to understand the meaning of the events in Jesus’ life; moreover, the book of John structures itself consciously  to pronounce upon this meaning, and the discovery of meaning is always a personal one of realizing that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. The "universalized Kingdom of God present now" contains  the essence of Christianity, becoming the kernel and nutshell of what the events in Jesus' life mean for humankind and for Christianity. This is why I title this work John: The Gospel of Christianity.

Christology refers to the above process of giving Jesus' life meaning for humankind and Christianity. In the Oxford Companion to the Bible, Reginald Fuller in "Jesus Christ: Life and Teachings" chooses what he calls the "critical approach" in talking about Jesus. Fuller explains that three stages exist in the evolution of the recorded life of Jesus: authentic words and memories of Jesus, materials shaped and transmitted in oral tradition, and the evangelists' redaction (shaping and transmission). He also says John contains all three of these stages but contains much more of stage three, thus, John's Christology:

Life and Teaching. Introduction: Critical Method. By accepting the modern critical method of studying the New Testament, we need not attempt to write a life of Jesus in the modern sense of a psychological study. We can hope only to reconstruct the barest outline of his career and to give some account of his message and teaching.

We shall assume that Mark is the earliest of the four Gospels and that, apart from the passion narrative (Mark 14.1–16.8), the individual units of material are arranged in an order determined more by subject matter than by historical or chronological concerns. Moreover, these units of material (stories about Jesus, pronouncement stories, miracle stories, parables, and aphorisms) were adapted to the needs of the post-Easter community and circulated in oral tradition for some forty years before Mark was written down. The authors of the two later synoptic Gospels, Matthew, and Luke, used Mark as their primary source, plus a common source consisting mostly of sayings, unknown to Mark. This source is hypothetical and only recoverable by reconstructing the non-Marcan material common to Matthew and Luke. It is generally known as Q, from the German word Quelle, "source." In addition, Matthew and Luke have their own special traditions. Like Mark, the three sources—Q, Special Matthew, and Special Luke—contain material previously passed on orally for some fifty years. The evangelists, in their use of sources and oral traditions, shaped them according to their theological interests; this editorial work is known as redaction. Thus, the synoptic Gospels contain material that developed in three stages: authentic words and memories of Jesus himself (stage I), materials shaped and transmitted in oral tradition (stage II), and the evangelists’ redaction (stage III). The gospel of John, however, is very different. It contains some stage I and stage II materials independent of the synoptics that can be used sometimes to confirm or supplement the synoptic evidence in reconstructing the career and teaching of Jesus. But the Fourth Gospel contains much more material belonging to stage III. In reconstructing our account of Jesus, we shall attempt to recover stage I materials from all four Gospels. We shall be assisted by certain tests of authenticity. We may be reasonably certain that materials go back to stage I if they meet some or all of the following criteria: (1) have multiple attestation (i.e., are attested in more than one source or in more than one type of material); (2) are distinctive to Jesus (i.e., they are without parallel in Judaism or in the post-Easter community; this test should be used with caution and generally applied to confirm rather than exclude; principle of dissimilarity); (3) cohere with other accepted Jesus traditions (test of coherence); and/or (4) exhibit indications of originating in Aramaic (in the case of sayings), since this was Jesus’ normal language (though he probably knew some Greek), or in a Palestinian milieu or social setting.

In my own approach to John, I have chosen to stay very close to the text itself, using and preferring the New Revised Standard translation. I firmly believe the text speaks for itself and that the various writings on or about any book derive from individuals grappling with the meaning of the text. This grappling is a highly personal, almost Jacobian, wrestling with the Divine when one is working with books in the Bible. When one searches for meaning, many of the constructs of typical critical approaches simply become unimportant. Curiosity, however, eventually leads a writer back into reading what others have said about a work. For this reason, I do refer to several texts, available on the Web or on accessible Bible software programs. I have used somewhat extensively Matthew Henry's Commentary, the Intervarsity Press Commentary, the Oxford Annotated Bible, the Oxford Companion to the Bible, the Net Bible, and quote passages throughout this work. I have also used a number of other sources throughout. The Christology in John, his presentation of the meaning of Jesus, continues to guide the title for this work as John's Gospel of Christianity.  Such an approach supports Fuller's sense above that John works freely with material he has at hand but that his shaping of it for specific theological reasons makes the gospel unique. Of course, the question of who wrote John and when begins to emerge from the Christology. Kym Smith in The Amazing Structure of John, a work I refer to sporadically latter in these writings, says "There is no doubt in this gospel about the deity of Christ; he was '...with God' and he '...was God' and '...all things were made through him.' His deity, his divine origin, was of the greatest importance to John" (Part Eight, Third Edition; Smith's web page and available Second Edition, http://homepages.picknowl.com.au/sherpub). Smith goes on to remark on John's eschatology and a Christology that sees Jesus as the true Bridegroom:

The Bridegroom's intention is not to dwell with his Bride in some 'other' place. His was not a permanent 'leaving of the Father (Gen. 2.24) but the bringing of his Beloved into the very heart of that place he has ever shared with his Father. Through the Spirit she will be one with the Father and his Son just as the Son has ever been one with the Father." (Part Eight).

Robin Griffith-Jones in The Four Witnesses: the Rebel, the Rabbi, the Chronicler, and the Mystic (HarperCollins, 2001) captures the majesty, depth, the poet and mystic, in referring to John as "the midwife of this extraordinary rebirth" ("Introduction"). Griffith-Jones also points out that John's aim is very close to that of Paul: to transform the reader. In John, "events that belong in a vision of heaven of heaven [are] acted out on earth...The dreams of a world renewed are being fulfilled before our very eyes. All that Israel hoped for--everything anticipated in its rites and festivals--find their fulfillment in the person and mission of Jesus. The true Temple was not a building in Jerusalem; it was Jesus himself."

     That John is consciously structured to present Christ as the meaning of Jesus contributes to a later hellenized separation or two-realm theory: heaven and earth, Christ and Jesus, a dualism clearly evident in Pauline Christianity that clearly was not a part of the life of Jesus, nor is it really part of John if one accepts John's thesis that Jesus is the Christ. The other gospel writers reveal the Jesus who robustly lived fully as a human being in the world, who understood the full impact of an in-breathed God presence in the present world and in human beings. The soaring theology of John, if viewed only abstractly,  leads to a post-resurrection Christianity stripped of Jesus' compassion, healing touch, and suffering humanity. If the Jewish world overly emphasized purification and legality, Christianity certainly veers dangerously close to choosing an other-world in preference to the world here and now. To have walked side by side with Jesus would have meant living a basic and simple life unfettered by needs other than breath, water, and bread, clothing; companionship, compassion, and a burning zeal for the holy. The Intervarsity Press Commentary says, Jesus is indeed on earth and is certainly human (1:14); but the future has entered the present, and already on earth judgment takes place through the presence and revelation of the Son of Man." This reality of the future entering into the present  is the kingdom of God addressed by Jesus; it is his mission, and this mission leads to the cross!

    That John is consciously structured to present Christ as the meaning of Jesus reveals itself in the conscious use of king, Son of God, Son of Man, Messiah, and Christ. See names of Christ in John (all quotations from the Revised Standard ). At the very beginning of John, Jesus clearly does not assume the political role of king, for he withdraws from the crowds who would crown him:

King

1.49 Nathanael answered him, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" 6.15 Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.

That Jesus is not the political king the crowd celebrates in the middle of John symbolically suggests itself in the choice of an ass's colt rather than the more kingly horse or chariot:

12.13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!" 12.15 "Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on an ass's colt!"

Reading the New Testament with the Old Testament in mind, one begins to suspect old characters and old stories have been used to create a retelling; recall, for example, the inauguration of Solomon:

32 King David said, "Summon to me the priest Zadok, the prophet Nathan, and Benaiah son of Jehoiada." When they came before the king, 33 the king said to them, "Take with you the servants of your lord, and have my son Solomon ride on my own mule, and bring him down to Gihon. 34 There let the priest Zadok and the prophet Nathan anoint him king over Israel; then blow the trumpet, and say, ‘Long live King Solomon!’ 35 You shall go up following him. Let him enter and sit on my throne; he shall be king in my place; for I have appointed him to be ruler over Israel and over Judah."

Even before Pilate, emphasis exists still upon the political role of "King of the Jews," and Jesus' answer clearly demonstrates that any kingship attributable must be that of the spiritual rather than physical sphere:

18.33 Pilate entered the praetorium again and called Jesus, and said to him, "Are you the King of the Jews?" 18.35 Pilate answered, "Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me; what have you done?" 36 Jesus answered, "My kingship is not of this world; if my kingship were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my kingship is not from the world." 37 Pilate said to him, "So you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth hears my voice." 38 Pilate said to him, "What is truth?" After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again, and told them, "I find no crime in him. 39 But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at the Passover; will you have me release for you the King of the Jews?"

Having established that Jesus' claim presents no immediate challenge or threat,  Pilate offers to release to the crowds one whom they have  identified as "King of the Jews." This mocking continues, evidencing itself in the purple robes in which they array Jesus:

19.1 Then Pilate took Jesus and scourged him. 2 And the soldiers plaited a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and arrayed him in a purple robe; 3 they came up to him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!" and struck him with their hands. 19.12 Upon this Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out, "If you release this man, you are not Caesar's friend; every one who makes himself a king sets himself against Caesar."

The crowd, though, redirects the mockery to Pilate himself, taunting him that no king would release a pretender to the kingship. Pilate reacts in self-defense by bringing Jesus back out to the crowds for judgment, "Behold your king."

13 When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Pavement, and in Hebrew, Gabbatha. 14 Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, "Behold your King!"

The crowd arises to the challenge and answers politically:

15 They cried out, "Away with him, away with him, crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Shall I crucify your King?" The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar." 16 Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.

A sad irony attends Pilate's continued mockery in identifying Jesus as "King of the Jews" in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek on his cross:

19 Pilate also wrote a title and put it on the cross; it read, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." 20 Many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek.

The crowds undercut even this, insisting that the sign read only that "This man said, I am King of the Jews." Pilate, however, refuses to rewrite the inscription:

21 The chief priests of the Jews then said to Pilate, "Do not write, `The King of the Jews,' but, `This man said, I am King of the Jews.'" 22 Pilate answered, "What I have written I have written."

Thus, for all times, Jesus remains identified on the cross as "King of the Jews." The question to be resolved is what kind of king, and this can be understood by looking at the titles Son of man and Son of God.

    Rightly understood, "Son of man" in John identifies Jesus in his human body and earthly role. John elevates the earthly role of Jesus by identifying him as the Son of man upon whom the angels of God ascend and descend. Angels ascending and descending depict Jesus as mediator between two worlds, the heavenly and earthly, clearly Jacob's vision of the ladder between heaven and earth, providing access into the spiritual and eternal:

1.51 And he said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man." 3.13 No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up,

 In chapter five of John, Jesus and the Son theologically are one:

5.26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself, 27 and has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of man.

The Son of man on earth provides an eternal food of life:

6.27 Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give to you; for on him has God the Father set his seal." 53 So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you;

As equally prone to misunderstand as the crowds, the disciples mistake the spiritual nature and intent of Jesus. John's Christology invokes again an image of the Son of man ascending, a clear reference to the post-crucifixion resurrection embodied in a full-blown Christianity:

61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples murmured at it, said to them, "Do you take offense at this? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of man ascending where he was before? 63 It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 8.28 So Jesus said, "When you have lifted up the Son of man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority but speak thus as the Father taught me.

As mediator on earth, Jesus in the Son of man role commands recognition that he is the Son of man:

9.34 They answered him, "You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?" And they cast him out. 35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, "Do you believe in the Son of man?"

This Son of man, known through his actions, awaits the hour of glorification, the fulfillment of life, destiny, and purpose accomplished in the cross and resurrection of Christianity, and all of John dramatically leads to this full glorification:

12.22 Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew went with Philip and they told Jesus. 23 And Jesus answered them, "The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified.

The Jews, of course, await the Messiah and Christ, but the Christ they expect is the political, kingly role already rejected by Jesus; that Jesus must be lifted up signals the transition from earthly to Godly:

34 The crowd answered him, "We have heard from the law that the Christ remains for ever. How can you say that the Son of man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of man?"

Judas' betrayal leads necessarily to the glorification of the Son of Man into Son of God, Messiah, and Christ:

13.29 Some thought that, because Judas had the money box, Jesus was telling him, "Buy what we need for the feast"; or, that he should give something to the poor. 30 So, after receiving the morsel, he immediately went out; and it was night. 31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, "Now is the Son of man glorified, and in him God is glorified.

     The Messianic role in John quickly gives way to the glorified Christ. The Messiah, in fact, is mentioned only twice early on in John. In chapter one,  Andrew identifies Jesus as the Messiah to his brother Simon, but John quickly dispels any notion that this Messiah is the earthly messiah expected to restore the Davidic kingdom in an earthly way. In fact, John, always the theologian, comments upon Messiah, explaining that the Messiah is Christ:

1.41 He first found his brother Simon, and said to him, "We have found the Messiah" (which means Christ).

The Samaritan woman also questions whether to understand Jesus in the role of Messiah, and once again, John equates Messiah with Christ:

4.25 The woman said to him, "I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ); when he comes, he will show us all things."

Clearly, all of John points to Christ.

    Exactly who is Christ? Without surprise, all titles point to the exalted Christ in John in the Revised Standard. John is careful to link the old and new, suggesting John seeks to persuade his audience to follow Christ. Early on, John acknowledges that the law was given through Moses but grace and truth through Jesus Christ; he identifies Christ as the Messiah:

1.17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 20 He confessed, he did not deny, but confessed, "I am not the Christ." 25 They asked him, "Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?" 26 John answered them, "I baptize with water; but among you stands one whom you do not know, 41 He first found his brother Simon, and said to him, "We have found the Messiah" (which means Christ).

John the Baptist has been the forerunner for this Messiah:

3.28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.

The woman in Samaria apparently expects a sudden appearance of the Messiah, and John, unlike the Synoptics, makes the identification quickly from Christ himself: "I who speak to you am he":

4.25 The woman said to him, "I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ); when he comes, he will show us all things." 26 Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am he." 29 "Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?"

People in Jerusalem who question the identity of Christ, like the woman of Samaria, also seem to have in mind an expected, mysterious appearance of the Messiah as well as the required lineage from David:

7.26 And here he is, speaking openly, and they say nothing to him! Can it be that the authorities really know that this is the Christ? 27 Yet we know where this man comes from; and when the Christ appears, no one will know where he comes from." 28 So Jesus proclaimed, as he taught in the temple, "You know me, and you know where I come from? But I have not come of my own accord; he who sent me is true, and him you do not know. 29 I know him, for I come from him, and he sent me." 30 So they sought to arrest him; but no one laid hands on him, because his hour had not yet come. 31 Yet many of the people believed in him; they said, "When the Christ appears, will he do more signs than this man has done?" 42 Has not the scripture said that the Christ is descended from David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?" 43 So there was a division among the people over him.

The Fourfold Gospel links the expected mystery to Isaiah; John's usual emphasis here is the divine origin of Christ:

1. But when the Christ cometh, no one knoweth whence he is. Prophecy fixed upon Bethlehem as the birthplace and the line of David as the family of the Christ, but the Jews, probably influenced by Isaiah 63:8, appear to have held that there would be a mystery attached to the immediate and actual parentage of the Messiah. Surely there could have been no greater mystery than the real origin of Jesus as he here outlines it to them, and as they might have fully known it to be had they chosen to investigate the meaning of his words.

7:28 Jesus therefore cried in the temple, teaching and saying, Ye both know me, and know whence I am; and I am not come of myself, but he that sent me is true, whom ye know not1.

1. And I am not come of myself, but he that sent me is true, whom ye know not. Our Lord here asserts their ignorance as to his divine origin. Since he came from God, and they did not know God, they consequently did not know whence he came.

http://bible.crosswalk.com/Commentaries/TheFourfoldGospel

In chapter nine, following the healing of the man blind from birth and the controversy about the cause of blindness, the parents defer attention from themselves to their son, for fear of being put out of the synagogue for controversy, a practice that developed later in early Christianity:

9.9.Ask him; he is of age, he will speak for himself." 22 His parents said this because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if any one should confess him to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue. 23 Therefore his parents said, "He is of age, ask him."

That Jesus is Christ continues to provide drama in Jerusalem, the Jews demanding a plain yes or no, and Christ replies, I have already told you:

10.22 It was the feast of the Dedication at Jerusalem. 23 it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. 24 So the Jews gathered round him and said to him, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly."25 Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness to me;26 but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep.

The climatic work revealing the identity of Christ results in Lazarus' being raised from physical death, but prior to this, Martha states, "I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, he who is coming into the world:

11.27 She said to him, "Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, he who is coming into the world. 28 When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying quietly, "The Teacher is here and is calling for you."

Finally, John reveals the thematic purpose for writing: that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name, a salvation effected only by the death of the Son of man and the resurrection of the Son of God:

12.32 and I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself." 33 He said this to show by what death he was to die. 34 The crowd answered him, "We have heard from the law that the Christ remains for ever. How can you say that the Son of man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of man?" 17.1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven and said, "Father, the hour has come; glorify thy Son that the Son may glorify thee, 2 since thou hast given him power over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom thou hast given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent. 20.31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.

The Oxford Companion to the Bible states that  "John's gospel is a literary unit, which may be analyzed in terms of its dramatic structure."

Structure and Content. The story of Jesus in John's gospel is presented as a drama, consisting of a prologue, two main acts, and an epilogue. By considering the gospel in this light, its distinctive character may be understood and its teaching illuminated.

Act I (John 2-12) describes the revelation of the Word of God to the world. For those with eyes to see, Jesus during his ministry reveals through his words and actions the glory of God the Father. 

Act 2 of John's drama (John 13-20) deals with the glorification of God's Word for the world. At its heart is the story of the passion and resurrection of Jesus, prepared for by the farewell address to the disciples (John 14-17), a discourse that deals with the life of the believer.

The drama ends with an epilogue, John 21, which may have been written later but is now firmly related to the body of the gospel. 

In addition, the book is structured about signs, explanations, and sayings:

SIGN
DISCOURSE
"I AM" SAYING
1. Changing water into wine (John 2)
new life (John 3)
the true vine (John 15.1)
2. Healing the official's son (John 4)
water of life (John 4)
the way, the truth, and the life (John 14.6)
3. Making the sick man well (John 5)
Son, life-giver (John 5)
the door of the sheep (John 10.7)
4. Feeding the five thousand (John 6)
bread and Spirit of life (John 6-7)
the bread of life (John 6.35)
5. Restoring the blind man's sight (John 9)
light of life (John 8)
the light of the world (John 8.12)
6. Raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11)
shepherd, life-giver (John 10)
the resurrection and the life (John 11.25)
 

Oxford also agrees that John moves beyond the witness of the other gospel writers and explores Jesus in relation to God and humanity, this exploration becoming the grounds for Christian belief:

Throughout his dramatic portrayal of the ministry, death, and exaltation of Jesus, John is anxious that readers should "see" the identity of the central character as Christ and Son of God (John 20.29-31) and "hear" his words. Verbs of seeing and hearing are important in John and are close in meaning to the activity of believing. As in a courtroom, witnesses are called throughout the drama to bear testimony to the life-giving Christ; and the sources of this evidence are divine (the Father, John 5.37; the Spirit, John 15.26; the scriptures, John 5.39) as well as human (John the Baptist, John 1.29-36; the Samaritan woman, John 4.29; John 4.39-42; the blind man, John 9.35-38; Martha, John 11.27; and, supremely, Thomas, John 20.28).
John thus moves beyond the witness of the other gospel writers in exploring the nature of Jesus in relation to God and humanity, and the grounds for Christian belief and for the spiritual life that is its consequence. Jesus, in John's portrait, is both one with the Father (John 10.30) and one with his church on earth (John 16.28).

Finally, too, the reader should understand John as structured in relation to several Passovers. Bill Bratt has argued the book's structure reveals itself in the four Passovers:

The Fourth and Last Passover of Jesus’ Public Ministry

"Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end" (John 13:1 NKJV). Jesus "rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded" (John 13:4-5 NKJV).

Jesus washes the Disciples' Feet and institutes the new Passover sacraments of the bread and the wine to represent His body and His blood. For the new Passover symbols we have to turn Luke 22:14-20: "When the hour had come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. {15} Then He said to them, "With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; {16} for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God." {17} Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, "Take this and divide it among yourselves; {18} for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes." {18} And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me." {20} Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you" (Luke 22:14-20 NKJV).

Jesus gives His last message to His disciples in John chapters 14-17. In John 18 He is arrested in Gethsemane, appears before the high priest, denied by Peter, questioned by the High Priest and appears in Pilate’s court.

"So then Pilate took Jesus and scourged Him. And the soldiers twisted a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and they put on Him a purple robe" (John 19:1-2 NKJV).

"Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover, and about the sixth hour. And he (Pilate) said to the Jews, "Behold your King!" But they cried out, "Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!" Pilate said to them, "Shall I crucify your King?" The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar! Then he delivered Him to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus and led Him away" (John 19:14-16 NKJV).

Jesus is then crucified by the soldiers and remains on the cross for approximately six hours.

"So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. {31} "Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. {32} Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him. {33} But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. {34} But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out" (John 19:30-34 NKJV).

Jesus was crucified on Passover. He is our Passover Lamb. "Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us." (1 Cor 5:7 NKJV)

Notice the words "high day" in verse 31. This indicates that this day was an annual Sabbath or holy day, the First Day of Unleavened Bread.

In Conclusion:

The apostle John gives a detailed record of Jesus’ public ministry based around God’s holy days, the annual "high day" Sabbath Festivals. For years people have known that the only way to prove the length of Jesus’ ministry is to go to the Gospel of John and count the number of Passovers. You can not do this in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark or Luke. It is amazing to realize that God inspired the apostle John to record his testimony of Jesus’ public ministry around God’s Feast Days. These feast days are important to God for He calls them His feasts: "And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: 'The feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts"" (Lev 23:2 NKJV).

The Gospel of John and God's Holy Days http://www.zoomnet.net/~bbratt/bbratt@zoomnet.net

In addition to controversy about the number of Passovers (and the length of Jesus' ministry), the day on which Passover is celebrated is also an issue. The issue  critically addresses Jesus' sacrificial death as the Passover Lamb. George Karakasidis in "The Quartodeciman Passover: Which Day Was It" traces the origin of this controversy to the calendar (Roman or Jewish):

The Roman day was from sunrise to sunrise, and the Jewish day from evening to evening. Understanding this fact, we can see that the Jewish Passover, which fell on the fourteenth of the lunar month, and was eaten on the fifteenth, was according to the Roman calendar eaten on the fourteenth, which did not end until the next sunrise. Http://www.hope_of_Israel.org/quartodc.htm

Another source outlining through historical reference this same controversy concludes "Easter is not the correct Passover and is a pagan system" http://www.graftedin2torah.org/Ap/quartodec.htm

John's theology clearly points to Jesus' crucifixion on the Passover. Certainly, Christianity argues just this for its Christ: For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us." (1 Cor 5:7 NKJV) Jewish Holidays

     Daniel Wallace (The Gospel of John: Introduction, Argument, Outline (http://www.bible.org/docs/soapbox/jnotl.htm ) argues for traditional authorship of John but says the writer emphasizes deity and presents Jesus as the Son of God but also does more by expecting a response of belief from the audience and the reader:

John’s Gospel places an emphasis on the deity of Christ more explicitly than any other gospel. It begins with the evangelist’s declaration (1:1) and concludes with doubting Thomas’ expression of faith (20:28). Clearly this gospel presents Jesus as the Son of God. But it does more than that. It also expects a response from the audience—a response of belief (pisteuvw occurs 98 times; the noun, pivsti", not once). Further, John lacks certain key features found in the Synoptic Gospels—such as the journey to Jerusalem, Olivet Discourse, Sermon on the Mount, Transfiguration, parables, etc. Jesus’ death is viewed as his glory and an eschatological judgment is suppressed. In sum, John presents Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, who is to be believed in order that one might right now pass from death to life.

Wallace emphasizes the "right now" of passing from death to life and belief (occurring 98 times times) as the means of passage.

     Reynolds Price in Three Gospels (Scribner, 1996) concludes John is an "outrageously demanding work... a work of madness or blinding revelation" that ultimately forces the reader to "ask the question it thrusts so flagrantly before us. Does it bring us a life-transforming truth; or is it one gifted lunatic's tale of another lunatic, wilder than he?" ("The Strangest Story: A Preface to the Good News According to John"). Price concludes his introduction by declaring, "once we concede the nearly intolerable premise of John's theology, nothing in his book is past the scope of a watchful sensible man of his time and place" and "Bizarre as it is...his gospel speaks --in the clearest voice we have--that sentence that all humankind craves from stories: The Maker of all things loves and wants me." Poignantly, John graphs "that need, that tall enormous radiant arc--fragile creatures made by the Father's hand, hurled into space, then caught at last by a man in some ways like ourselves, though the ark of God."