John 4: 31-42 – The World Behind the Text

rootedchristThis week we are going deeper into John 4: 31-42.  Each week thus far has had a “theme,” and this week’s to “look around.”  We’ve looked ahead (Revelation), we’ve looked back (Deuteronomy), and now we are to look around at our current context. What do we see? What are we to do?  Before we get into the details of the text in the next few days, let’s take a deeper look at the Gospel of John.

There are four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  Each of these Gospels tells the story of Jesus from a different perspective or audience in mind.  Matthew, Mark, and Luke are called the synoptic Gospels in that they follow, by and large, the same timeline. They have many of the same stories in the same order.  Now, each of these Gospels does look at things a little different, based off the background of the author.  Matthew is a Jewish author and writing to a Jewish audience. There are many things that his original hearers (as Jews) would recognize that we may not pick up on at first.  Mark is writing to a more Roman audience, in this Gospel, we see an emphasis on Jesus’ actions and His urgency, much like a Roman general.  His audience would understand that.  And for Luke, he is a Gentile (non-Jew) who is writing to a Gentile audience.  We see images of Jesus within this Gospel that would connect to a Gentile audience.  Jesus will often teach on level ground, like one of their philosophers would.

Within each of these Gospels, they follow the same historic flow and path.  I often say, remember the old school questions you asked when you would write an essay?  Who, what, when, where?  Matthew, Mark, and Luke as answering these questions. John, though, he is answering a completely different question.  Take, for instance, the Christmas story.  Matthew gives you Joseph’s perspective and gives us the Wise Men.  Luke gives us the classic story in chapter two through Mary’s lens.  Mark doesn’t even give us Christmas, he pretty much goes to work.  John though, His Christmas story is epic and cosmic. In beginning was the Word and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. John is answering the why.  He’s telling us why Jesus came.

John is not worried about the correct timeline.  He’s telling stories about Jesus.  John has different stories within it, that the others don’t have.  John is not worried about all the specific timelines, He’s worried about telling you WHY.  Jesus came.  This is the “why” Gospel.  It’s deep and mystical.  We’ll see as we dig into this text tomorrow, that John has a specific point in this story, a story that would rock the world of both the Jews and the Gentiles.

Tomorrow we’ll look at what’s actually in the text.

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