The story of Jesus begins outside human history, before time began. From the opening verses we know the Divine origin of Jesus while those who people the Gospel struggle to understand. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God… All things came into being through him… And the Word became flesh and lived among us.” We know who Jesus is, we know his mission. “…In him was life, and the life was the light of all people.” (1:4). His mission, is to the world.
The Gospel, appears to be written for a community who no longer attend the synagogue, perhaps, they have been expelled; no longer go on pilgrimage to Jerusalem to take part in the great feasts and visit the Temple. Places no longer nourish their lives. Jesus is the source of spiritual nourishment. “I am the light of the world” (8:6). “I am the way and the truth and the life”. (14:6). “Abide in me as I abide in you” (15:4). "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (6:35). “I am the living bread come down from heaven.” (6:51). A new identity is found in the person of Jesus.
The Design of the Gospel. The events of the first two chapters occur on successive days. Then the time pulse changes, time is marked by the great feasts which suggests that Jesus ministry spans about three years. From chapter seven Jesus is in Jerusalem. Unlike Matthew, Mark and Luke who emphasise his Galilean ministry, John suggests that two thirds of Jesus ministry happens in Jerusalem.
The Gospel was written in stages. The first stage is the Gospel of Signs – seven miracles performed in Jerusalem and Galilee. This story was updated and rewritten and expanded in the light of the mission to the Samaritans narrated in ch.4. The next stage may well have been written at Ephesus, a Pauline community, and here another stage of the Gospel is written. There is a play on light and darkness and the imagery of the vine and the branches. This would seem to be the final text, but something happened. Perhaps, the author died! Apparently, there were a number of drafts of different episodes in the Gospel. Another hand, perhaps a secretary, put them together but in a way that resulted in repetition and overlapping. The original ordering of the author is lost.Four Evangelists reproduced with permission: “© The Trustees of the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin”. www.cbl.ie
This is the Story of Jesus drawn from the four Evangelists
Gospel passages accompanied by a number of brief commentaries