He came from God full of grace and truth
John’s gospel is unique among the four gospels. Catholic scholar Raymond E. Brown referred to it as the gospel with the highest “christology.” You can find within it concepts–such as that of Living Water or the Holy Spirit–that are not addressed at all in the other gospels or only minimally addressed.
Recently I discovered something: if you take the 14th verse out of each of John’s 21 chapters and string them together, you end up with a very interesting overview of the entire gospel–an overview that sort of rushes by you like a swift-running brook.
It rushes over you, around you, it fills your senses and excites your thought processes in a way that reading the gospel in chronological, chapter-by-chapter order does not.
Specifically I am talking about the following verses: John 1:14, 2:14, 3:14, 4:14, 5:14, 6:14, 7:14, 8:14, 9:14, 10:14, 11:14, 12:14, 13:14, 14:14, 15:14, 16:14, 17:14, 18:14, 19:14, 20:14, and 21:14. When you put them all together, here is what you get:
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father full of grace and truth. In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the son of man must be lifted up…Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of living water welling up to eternal life..See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” Not until halfway through the Feast did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach.
Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I come from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going.” Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath. “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.” So he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead.” Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written. “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet…You may ask me for anything in my name and I will do it…
“You are my friends if you do what I command…He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you…I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.” Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it would be good if one man died for the people. It was the day of Preparation of Passover Week, about the sixth hour. “Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews. At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.
Feel the water rush over and around us. It cleanses and refreshes; it reminds us who we are, where have come from, and where we are going. You feel almost as if you are caught up in it. The Good Shepherd washes his disciples’ feet one minute…and then commands his followers to love one another the next. It is all about serving each other. That’s what it comes down to. When we serve each other, we are serving God. This is what Jesus taught.
You’ll note that I have arranged the 21 verses above into 3 paragraphs of 7 verses each. That’s 777, which is the opposite of 666. In the ancient world, 7 was the number of completion.
Another unique aspect of the Gospel of John is its treatment of the Holy Spirit. Without John our understanding of the Spirit would be rather limited. Thankfully the Gospel expands at some length upon the concept. This it does in two chapters–14 and 16. Curiously, the two chapters together devote a total of 14 verses to Jesus expounding upon the topic. Specifically the passages are John 14:15-18 and 16:6-15. And if you put them together, here is how they read:
“If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him or knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief. But I tell you the truth: it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned. I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of Truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.”
If you stand up for the truth, the world will hate you. But remember the One who came from God full of grace and truth and who commanded us to love one another. Keep Him in your thoughts each day. Remember especially that He brought living water, and that the water is still with us through the Holy Spirit–our Counselor, who guides us as we overcome the enemies of truth.