Religion and Theology
UNIT FOUR INTRODUCTION
Be sure to read each assignment in this unit.
Beginning with chapter 5 in John’s Gospel, Jesus begins to encounter more and more hostility. This hostility comes not only from outsiders, but even from within the disciples of Jesus. John 6 is pivotal in describing a turning point in the public ministry of Jesus. Much of this division arises out of a direct response to who Jesus claims to be and the criteria Jesus spells out for what it means to be a disciple. In the Fourth Gospel, believing and being cannot be separated from doing. The conflict that arises even spreads to the disciples themselves when Jesus asserts his identity with God and demands of his disciples their full and exclusive devotion. He alone must be the sustenance of their lives!
This claim of Jesus was understood to be at odds with Jewish monotheistic belief: the belief in the one God. This belief was and is central to Judaism. For those who understood Jesus to be violating this belief in the One God, this was a breaking point. Indeed in John 6:66, John writes: “Because of this, many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him.” So this is a pivot point in the Fourth Gospel when even many of his disciples joined forces with the enemies of Jesus in opposing the Messiah. The opposition then begins to actively and openly seek to kill Jesus.
Also, in this section of John, we will encounter the first of several “I am” sayings. This phrase can be associated with the very name by which Jews identified God in the Hebrew language. Does Jesus use this phrase intentionally to assert once more that he is God? His uses of the phrase certainly bring about a strong and dramatic reaction. In asserting his prior existence to Abraham, he uses this phrase and the opposition seeks to stone Jesus (8:58-59). At his arrest, Jesus again uses this phrase, illustrating His power.
Lastly, in this chapter, there is a long and complex story about a blind man healed by Jesus. Due to his healing and devotion to Jesus and his refusal to condemn Jesus, the healed blind man is thrown out of the synagogue. Most scholars understand the expulsion from the synagogue to be more reflective of a problem for the author’s community than for the time of Jesus. In John’s time, Christian Jews and non-Christian Jews were having serious tensions and conflicts in some parts of the Roman Empire. Whereas Christian Jews and mainline Jews shared the synagogue during the early years, gradually they were disallowed. The Gospel of John reflects that early tension.
While this section of material contains some rare occurrences where John actually contains stories found in the Synoptics–such as Jesus Walking on Water and the Feeding Miracle–these events are interpreted very differently in John’s Gospel. As noted thus far, John presents many of Jesus’ miracles and teachings as related to “signs”. Pay attention to this motif and how signs function in John’s Gospel.
4.5 UNIT ASSIGNMENT: REFLECTION PAPER 2 � JOHN�S VISION OF JESUS
INTRODUCTION AND ALIGNMENT
Upon completion of this assignment you should be able to:
? Articulate the ways that John portrays a growing situation of conflict surrounding the identity and work of Jesus.
? Define the meaning of Jesus� �I Am� statements in John�s Gospel.
? Identify elements in the bread discourse and the healing of the blind man that reflect the tensions happening in the later Johannine community.
? Develop an understanding of John�s view of discipleship.
? Textbook: The Gospels and Letters of John
? Textbook: The Word of Life
1. You will write a 4 page reflection paper on the subject of John�s presentation of Jesus.
2. Both textbooks should be used as sources and your paper should be written based on the SOR Manual of Style. Structure your reflection paper by writing on the following topics:
a. How does John present Jesus in John 1-9? What titles, images, and stories does he use to describe Jesus? What is the cumulative effect of this strategy?
b. Which component of John�s presentation of Jesus surprises or challenges you the most?
c. Which component of John�s presentation of Jesus do you believe is the most relevant to the present needs of your local congregation?
6. You must write your paper as a MS Word document (.doc or .docx). Use Times New Roman 12 pt font and double-space your paper.