The Gospel According to St. John

 

 

Apolytikion of John the Theologian
“Beloved Apostle of Christ our God, hasten to deliver a people without defense. He who permitted you to recline upon His bosom, accepts you on bended knee before Him. Beseech Him, O Theologian, to dispel the persistent cloud of nations, asking for us peace and great mercy.”

 

A Prayer before Reading the Holy Gospel

Illumine our hearts, O Master Who lovest mankind, with the pure light of Thy divine knowledge. Open the eyes of our mind to the understanding of Thy gospel teachings. Implant also in us the fear of Thy blessed commandments, that trampling down all carnal desires, we may enter upon a spiritual manner of living, both thinking and doing such things as are well-pleasing unto Thee. For Thou art the illumination of our souls and bodies, O Christ our God, and unto Thee we ascribe glory, together with Thy Father, Who is from everlasting, and Thine all-holy, good, and life-creating Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.

 

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN THE EVANGELIST

THE GOSPEL

Author – St. John the Apostle, Evangelist and Theologian. This Gospel is a theological treasure because of the immensity of its message. It differs radically from the other Gospel accounts in that it focuses more on the divinity of Christ; the eternal Son of God taking on human flesh. It speaks of the mystical and theological perspectives. God is mysterious, yet working in this world. Paschal theme. He also taught the perfection of God’s love within us. Written in 2nd Century; he must have been about 100 years old and banished to Patmos. Because it’s the last of the four Gospels, it reflects a period of unprecedented polemic and antagonism between the emerging Church and the religious establishment of the Jewish people. The Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, & Luke) are concerned with Jesus’ public ministry of preaching the Gospel. John presupposes knowledge of the Synoptic Gospels and thus gives birth to a greater dimension based upon Christ’s divinity. The Synoptic Gospels focus on the coming of the Kingdom. St. John emphasizes the King. They look at the essential value of the message in its entirety; John on the messenger who is from heaven. Because of John’s approach, Parables decrease in this Gospel while theological discourses are common.

The purpose of the Gospel is: a) 20:31 “These signs 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.” In other words, he seeks to prove that Christ is God incarnate, and that only through faith in Him can we have life. b) To fight philosophical heresies in Ephesus contradicting the principal message of Christianity: namely, that the Lord Jesus Christ accepted a human nature while remaining the eternal Son of God.

St. John introduces us to places and people not heard of in the other Gospels; i.e. Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman, and Lazarus. These most prominent figures do not appear in the Synoptic Gospels. Thomas and Philip, who are only mentioned by name in the others, become more alive by asking questions or making comments in John. All four Gospels record the narrative of the death, crucifixion, and Resurrection of Jesus.

The miracles in John are told in order to bring light to Christ’s divine origin and mission. These miracles are called “signs” and often lead to extensive discussions and debates about the identity and significance of Jesus. These miracles in the Synoptics illicit amazement by the faithful onlookers. The Synoptic Gospels, describe Jesus as giving ethical and religious instructions that fall within the framework of Judaism. In John, however, Jesus speaks of a polemic found in how the law was being observed. He uses contrasting language “your law” implying that the law belongs to an alien community, namely the Jews, while he identifies himself with the new community, the Christians. The Synoptics personally challenge the subject asking, how will you express the law (ex. how do you love your neighbor) while John will asks, how do you respond to Jesus the definitive expression of God’s will or revelation. The “I AM” “Ο ΩΝ” sayings are distinctive in John since the message and mission of Jesus revolves around His self-manifestation and self-proclamation. In John, there are no sharp questions or injunctions, and no true parables. Even the Last Supper introduces a type of farewell discourse.

 

THE MAN – ST. JOHN

John, son of Zebedee, and his brother, James were the grandsons of Joseph, the betrothed of the Virgin Mary. John’s mother, Salome, was one of the myrrh-bearing women. She was also Jesus’ stepsister and a very close confidante of the Virgin Mary. It was quite natural for the Lord to entrust the care of His mother to John at the cross (John 19:25-27[1]) since Mary and Salome were such close friends.

John was an extremely mild, calm, and peaceful man who emphasized the need of love between brethren. This love goes beyond a mere brotherhood to a participation in divine life. [in his epistles] But in spite of his mildness, he was thunderous in his proclamation of the Gospel, a true zealot for Christ.

Throughout John’s Gospel, he refers to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23, 19:26, 20:2, 21:7, 20) and this is the subject of today’s lesson.

John was probably the youngest of the twelve disciples. Being Jesus’ relative (either step-nephew or second cousin, once removed), he was treated very tenderly by the Lord (John 13:23-25)[2].

His perception of the mysteries surrounding Christ was keen. He was the first to recognize the Risen Christ at the Sea of Galilee while they were fishing.

Because of his perception he was blessed to have the Lord show him many things about the mystical nature of heaven. Like Isaiah before him, John peered into heaven. Piercing the inner veil of heaven, he was able to write about celestial activities and future events regarding the Parousia of Christ. Because of this extraordinary blessing he was directed to write the Book of Revelation.

John’s Care of the Virgin Mary after Pentecost

At the foot of the Cross, Jesus assigned the care of His mother to the Apostle John. The Virgin Mary lived in John’s house along with John’s mother, Salome, until her death. This implies that Salome’s husband, Zebedee, died shortly after Pentecost. John was very prominent in the early Church. This was very noticeable to Paul when he came to Jerusalem in c. 48 AD for the Council in Jerusalem regarding the issue of circumcision of the Gentiles (Acts 15). At that time, Paul perceived that James, Peter and John were the pillars of the Jerusalem Church (Galatians 2:9)[3]. This James was James the Lord’s brother (Galatians 1:19), and not John’s brother James. John’s brother had already been martyred in 44 AD (Acts 12:1-3).

When persecution began for the newly founded Church during the time of Herod, John and the Virgin Mary left Jerusalem. Since John’s lot in the evangelization of the world was Asia Minor, they sailed for Ephesus. There they stayed until the death of Herod (Acts 12:20-23). To put this in context, the Apostle Andrew had already been to Ephesus briefly, the Apostle Paul would not arrive until 52 AD, at the end of his Second Missionary Journey. Since Herod died not too long after he killed James, John and the Virgin Mary most likely stayed in Ephesus less than two years. As was her custom, the Virgin Mary spent most of the day in prayer, fasting and meditation on the Scriptures. John and Mary returned to Jerusalem following the death of Herod, and remained there until the early 50’s. About that time, Mary heard that Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha desired to see her very much. Lazarus had been ordained Bishop of Cyprus by the Apostle Barnabas, but did not dare enter Jerusalem for fear of the Jews. It had been over 20 years since the Jewish leaders had tried to kill him; but they still sought to do so (John 12:9-11).

To solve this dilemma, Mary wrote to Bishop Lazarus asking him to send a ship for her so that she might visit him on Cyprus. This he did and the Apostle John with the Virgin Mary and some others set sail for Cyprus. Out at sea, however, they encountered a violent storm that took them far off course and up to the northern part of the Aegean Sea near Macedonia. There, they put in to the port of Clemes on Athos at the tip of the 50-mile long peninsula. At this location today, there are a number of famous monasteries that trace their origin to the visit of John and the Virgin Mary in the early 50’s, and most of the information we have concerning the Virgin Mary’s voyage comes from these monasteries.

The Panagia and St. John on Athos

At that time, the population of Athos consisted of young virgins dedicated to the goddess Artemis (Diana) who were expected to become priestesses to serve in the Greek temples. Also on Athos was a large gold and ivory statue of Zeus (Jupiter) on top of the 6,600-foot peak of Mt. Athos. This statue was mentioned in ancient history accounts of Plutarch and Anaximander as having large gems for eyes; it was used for navigational purposes by seamen. Also present on the peninsula was a huge temple of Apollo where fortune telling, divining and witchcraft took place.

When John and Mary arrived at the port of Clemes, the huge statue of Zeus fell and shattered into pieces with a thunderous noise. At the same time, the ground shook the idols and pagan statues in the temple and in all the shrines fell prostrate and broke in pieces. During the chaos of this collapse, a voice was heard saying, “Men of Apollo, all of you, go to Clemes Harbor and welcome Mary, the mother of the Great God Jesus”. Thus the demons inhabiting the idols were forced against their will to proclaim the truth.

Seeing the destruction around them, all the inhabitants of Athos hurried to Clemes Harbor to meet the Virgin Mary. They received her, the Apostle John and the others with great honor and brought them to a large meeting hall. There they asked her to explain who was the God that she bore and they inquired diligently into the mystery of the Incarnation. They also wondered at how Mary, a Hebrew woman, could explain everything to them in Greek. This was due to the gift of languages that Mary received along with the 120 at Pentecost (Acts 1:14, 2:1-3).

All this resulted in the entire group of the residents of Athos accepting the Christian Faith. They were all then catechized and baptized into the Faith. During their stay on Athos, Mary and the Apostle John performed many miracles among the new converts. Before leaving, they appointed a leader and teacher for the newly illumined residents of Athos from among their traveling party. In addition, Mary prayed for the blessing of Athos, that the Lord would have mercy on it and keep it free from harm until the end of the world along with its inhabitants. Because of the event leading the Virgin Mary to Mt. Athos, this land dedicated to this day is dedicated to the Most Holy Virgin Theotokos.

Having blessed Athos, Mary, John, and the others set sail for Cyprus. Meanwhile, Lazarus had grown very concerned about Mary’s delay, assuming it was because of a storm, and not knowing that all was well. When the ship arrived, there was great rejoicing and thanksgiving. Mary presented Bishop Lazarus with an omophorion and spimanikia [parts of a bishop’s vestments] that she had made. John and Mary shared the good news of all that happened on Athos.

After staying on Cyprus for a short time, Mary blessed the Christians there and returned to Jerusalem with John and the others. Shortly after Mary and John returned from Cyprus, Mary Magdalene also returned to Jerusalem from her evangelism in Rome and elsewhere. Since she had been very close to the Virgin Mary during Jesus’ three-year ministry, she stayed with the Apostle John for several years until the Virgin Mary’s death. At this time, the Virgin Mary was in her early 70’s and Mary Magdalene was in her late 60’s.

After the Panagia’s death and Assumption to heaven, John moved to Ephesus permanently. He was not pleased that the Lord had directed him there but this was to be the center of his missionary activity. After repenting of this sin, he began his life, and soul-saving activities. From Revelation 2 and 3, where John addresses seven Churches in Asia: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamon, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea, we see he had a hand in helping to cultivate these churches. All these Churches are within a 70-mile radius of what is today Western Turkey.

Because the Church started taking root and growing, the Christians were called into question and ostracized, persecutions fell upon them. John, being the leader, was arrested by Emperor Domitian, a great persecutor of the Christians in about 81 A.D. After many beatings, John was forced to drink a cup of strong poison, and then was boiled in oil. Neither had any effect upon him. Domitian thought John was immortal and had him exiled to the island of Patmos, a penal colony.

Three years after arriving on Patmos, John and Prochoros were in the market place near the temple of Apollo. Some of the priests of Apollo began to sneer at John and ridicule what he taught. The “son of thunder” prayed, and the temple of Apollo collapsed. The priests immediately grabbed John and inflicted many stripes on him; then they had him thrown into the deepest dungeon. When Myron and his family heard, they got John out – since they were an influential family.

Sometime later, a Jew named Philo met John in the market place and debated John on the Scriptures for two days. As John was debating, a young man brought a sick man for John to heal, which John did. Philo replied, “Teacher, what is love?” John responded, “God is love and he who has love has God.” Philo replied, “Therefore show the love of God and come home with me.” John did so and healed Philo’s wife of leprosy while he stayed there. Philo and his wife believed and were baptized.

In about 96 A.D., Emperor Domitian was assassinated, and his successor Nerva did not persecute the Christians. John was free to return to Ephesus.

By then, nearly all the inhabitants of Patmos had come to believe, and they wanted John to stay. When he told them that the Lord had instructed him to return to Ephesus, they asked him to draft a written document that they could use to remain steadfast in the faith. This John did later by dictating his Gospel to Prochoros who had Sosipater copy it onto good parchment. After bidding farewell (with many tears) to the residents of Patmos where John had spent 15 years, John and Prochorus sailed to Ephesus where they were received with great joy and stayed in the house of Domnus.

John spent the rest of his life in Ephesus in strict fasting and prayer, living as a Nazarite. Because of his age, he didn’t have the strength to preach anymore but taught only the bishops privately. St. Jerome stated that the faithful carried him to Church where he would say over and over “Little children, love one another.” When his disciples asked him why he just said this, he replied, “This is the Lord’s commandment; and if you keep it, it is enough.”

His Repose

John died in the third year of Trajan (about 106 AD) at the age of nearly 105. Most accounts state that John instructed seven of his disciples to go outside the city with him and dig his grave. John then climbed into his own grave and died there. The seven then buried him. Later the faithful dug up the grave to give John a more prominent resting-place, but the grave was empty. According to Tradition, St. John was raised from the dead and taken up into heaven like the Mother of God, in fulfilment of the Saviour’s enigmatic response to Peter’s question about John: “Lord, what about this man?” The Lord answered St. Peter by saying, “If it is My will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?” (John 21:22). The Divine John took his repose in the Lord and was translated to heaven on September 26.

[1] “Now there stood by the Cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold your son!’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother!’ And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.”

[2] “Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved.”

[3] “James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.”

 

 

Class 2, Oct. 10, 2018

CHAPTER ONE
THE PROLOGUE

Logos = Word

The Prologue accomplishes the supremacy of Revelation that God the Logos is life and light Who articulates God the Father’s Truth. Correspondingly, it declares that the true mediator between God and man is a pre-existent divine person. God became man to bring spiritual life and light into the world. This thought unfolds progressively: the general concept of the Word in Himself; the Word’s mission in the world; the Incarnation of the Word.

From its opening line, the Gospel begins to identifying Jesus of Nazareth with the divine Word of God of the Old Testament. This Word of God ‘became flesh,’ and as Jesus, the Son of God, He makes God known to men and grants all who believe in Him the power of partaking of His own fullness of grace and truth and of becoming ‘children of God’.

Jesus Christ, the Logos of God, became flesh to make us “partakers of divine nature.” – 2 Peter 1:4
“For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God” (St. Iranaeus, adv. haeres 3, 19, 1: PG 7/1, 939).
“For the Son of God became man so that we might become god” (St. Athanasius, De inc., 54, 3: PG 25, 192B)

John is the only writer who begins the story of Jesus Christ with His eternal existence rather than the time He appeared on earth (nativity). John omits any account of the Lord’s birth in the flesh, His childhood, and His growth to manhood, because these matters have already been dealt with sufficiently by the other authors.

The Prologue is divided into three sections: 1) which deals with the cosmic, creative work of the Logos and the relationship of the Logos to God and creation. 2) A narrative of the advent of the Logos and the response evoked by it. 3) vs. 15-18 the church confesses briefly and succinctly who the Logos is and what His coming means.

v. 1 The Gospel opens in heaven explaining the origin of Christ. John sets the beginning in a cosmological framework. Great emphasis is placed on the word “Λογος” The Word.

Here is a comprehensive definition of LOGOS:
The Logos is the principle of reason behind the universe. Logos can also mean “wisdom”, “reason”, and “action” of God – which are all attributes of the Son of God. In some Greek systems of Philosophy logos denotes the principle of order in the world, and also the agency of that order. In the Old Testament, there is a personification of logos by the use of another word “Wisdom” as found in the Book of Proverbs and in the book of The Wisdom of Solomon. (Wisdom 7:21-30). According to John, not only is the Logos a personification of a divine person; He is eternal, co-existing with the Father. “Christ is the Power of God and the Wisdom of God” (1 Cor 1:24)

“Word was with God” – exists with the Father.
“Word was God” – Jesus Christ is God. [Not a god, as some heresies teach]; He is co-equal and co-eternal with the Father. Unity is shown by introducing the two together.

[Explanation: Imagine if you can a person existing without a single thought. What type of person would he be if his mind is a complete blank? Or with no action; without movement or purpose… a person who does nothing or accomplishes nothing. Is it even possible to imagine such a thing?]

The capacity to reason can never be separated from essence. There is an unquestionable coexistence and unity between personal thought and personhood. Personal opinions, words, and actions define a person. In similar manner, actions and will is directed by your inner being.

NOTE: This is an important distinguishing feature of the Christian God as opposed to other proclamations of deities. The Old Testament God, who has no name, is named in the New Testament. Not only does God become personal through Jesus Christ, God is revealed as a Trinity. The use of the word Logos by the Evangelist is critical because it emphasizes that Jesus Christ is the God of the Old Testament.

v. 2 “He was in the beginning with God.” The Logos existed forever with the Father. There was never a time in which He did not exist with the Father.

NOTE: One may ask: doesn’t a son always proceed after the Father. In other words, the father is always first and then comes a son? Explanation of Blessed Theophylact: The radiance and brightness of the sun is created from the sun, is it not? Does this mean that the sun was once without radiance? This is impossible – how can the sun be devoid of brightness? If the sun and its effulgence must co-exist, how much more so, between God the Father and God the Son? Jesus is the “brightness of His (Father’s) glory and the express image of His person.” Hebrews 1:3

v. 3 Christ existed with God the Father and was also the Power that created all things.

From the first pages of this Gospel, following The Prologue, in the account of Jesus’ baptism and His calling of the apostles, Jesus is presented as God’s only begotten Son, the Messiah and the Lord. Throughout the Gospel, He is identified as well, in various ways, with the God of the Old Testament, receiving the divine name of I AM together with the Yahweh of Moses and the prophets and psalms.

NOTE: Don’t think that the Word of God is like the spoken word. We can never compare the words that we speak to those spoken by God. The words we utter flow from our lips and within an instant they dissolve away in the air, never to be heard of again. The Word spoken by God remains with permanency. The steadfastness of God’s Word compels creation and consequently becomes its purpose and the reason it is continues.

Light and darkness are main themes for John throughout the Gospel. The word “logos” is not a theme per se but rather the focus of the entirety of the Gospel.

The imagery of light and darkness have metaphysical and ethical overtones: human life is lived either in light or darkness. Life is light and death is darkness. Darkness struggles against the light but cannot overcome it.

v. 6-9 A sudden shift introducing St. John the Baptist. John the Evangelist continues with the imagery of light through John’s (Baptist) witness to Christ.

v.10-13 Christ created everything. Through Him we become children of God. We cannot assume adoption through blood or natural birth, or even by our decision. This comes only through God.

v. 14 is the basis of all Christian doctrine – the Incarnation. John now explains how we become sons of God> through Christ’s taking on flesh. Yet, when you hear that Christ became flesh, do not think that the Logos abandoned His divine nature and was changed into flesh. Instead, remaining what He was, He became what He was not. In this verse, the Evangelist uses the word flesh to show the boundless condescension of God, Who for our salvation assumed what was completely alien to His divine nature merely out of love for mankind. If the Logos did not assume a human body and soul when He took flesh, our souls would still remain unhealed: what He did not assume, He did not sanctify.

An interesting word selection is used by John: “And the Logos was made/became flesh and dwelt (εσκηνωσεν) among us.” The word σκηνη  means a tent. This word selection is important since it invokes the motif of God dwelling with His people as He did in the Old Testament in the wilderness tabernacle and the temple on Mount Zion. This shows that the Logos is present and dwelling, not only perfectly as God-man, but also with us. Once again, John connects the person of Jesus Christ with the God of the Old Testament.

v. 17 the Logos is finally named. Jesus Christ.
v. 18       “No one has seen God…” as indicated by Exodus 33:20. Only one who is Himself divine can see God. They are of one essence. v. 18b. Only the Son can declare and explain the Father to all mankind.

v. 19-34 John makes Jesus’ superiority crystal clear. John does not appear to have a ministry all his own but is merely a witness to Christ. This places emphasis on Christ.
v. 29 “Behold the Lamb of God” – A lamb was offered as sacrifice at the Temple; one in the morning and one in the evening, for the sins of the people. This imagery suggests Christ is the sacrificial victim.
v. 35-51 Calling of the Disciples. John’s disciples surrendered to Jesus.

v. 42 “You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas which means Rock.” Still again, this verse gives rise to the Evangelist identifying Jesus as the God of the Old Testament as He changes names. Ex. Abram > Abraham; Sarai > Sarah – Genesis 17:5 & 15.

In these verses, notice the progress of Jesus’ titles. At first, He is called Rabbi v38c; then Messiah (Christ) v41; Son of God and King of Israel v. 49; finally, Son of Man v51b. The last title (Son of Man) is the most common title of Jesus in the Gospels. These titles are stated at the beginning of John to show and give a clear picture of who Jesus is and the purpose of His public ministry.

 

CHAPTER TWO
The next three chapters introduce a “New Order of Life” based on Christ. It is evident throughout the New Testament that Christ’s presence transforms everything. The “signs” bear witness to that transformation. There are seven “signs” or miracles in John. Each takes their origin in some kind of human distress (need, hunger, disease, death, etc.)

      The Seven Signs

  1. Changing water into wine – 2:1-11
  2. Curing of the nobleman’s son – 4:46-54
  3. Healing the paralytic – 5:1-15
  4. Feeding the five thousand – 6:1-14
  5. Walking on water – 6:15-21
  6. Opening the blind man’s eyes – 9:1-41
  7. Raising of Lazarus – 11:38-44
Class 3, October 17, 2018

WEDDING OF CANA – New Wine
[The First Sign]

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v. 1-12
Jesus’s public ministry begins with a miracle cited only by John. Three points from this scene: a) connects Jesus as Creator; b) there is joy with His presence; c) New Wine is the New Jerusalem or Christianity. Jewish legalism is represented by the water of ritual purification which becomes the Gospel symbolized in the wine that brings gladness to the marriage feast. In the Gospels of Matthew and Mark the marriage feast is symbolic of the Kingdom of Heaven. (see. Matthew 22:1-14; 25:1-13; Mark 2:19).

v. 1 “On the third day…” this verse is odd since it doesn’t fit contextually….perhaps it means the third day in the events described by John. More likely it is alluding to Jesus’ third-day Resurrection. In John, all miracles of our Lord are never self-contained; that is, they are never performed just to demonstrate His power. The miracles point to something greater and of deeper significance that the acts themselves. I will use the term “skopos” to mean the essential meaning or deeper significance of a particular event.

v. 2 Jesus’ presence shows us that a wedding is not only honorable, it is God ordained. This blessing is between a man and a woman to live according to divine and natural rites. Jesus’ first miracle is performed to indicate who Jesus is [to manifest His glory] and to fulfill faith [in His disciples and each believer.] Each miracle done is to reflect on the glory of Jesus as God and to fulfill us in faith.

v. 4 Changing water into wine. Wine is a symbol of life. We can surmise that Jesus is the new wine embodied in the wine of the Eucharist and His coming into the world has drastically altered the prevailing circumstances, as did this miracle of his changing water into wine.

“O Woman” – is seen as a term of affection. Certainly, this cannot be read as disrespectful since Jesus addressed her in similar manner on the Cross. “Woman, behold your son.” John 19:26 In the Orthodox Faith, we understand this designation “woman” with profound significance. It is a great honor to receive this term. The first woman, Eve, was the mother of all living beings. Thus her name is Zoe in the Book of Genesis: “So Adam called his wife’s name Life (Zoe), because she was the mother of all living.” – Genesis 3:20. Eve did not keep the Word of God and thus is replaced by the true “woman” who was perfectly obedient to God. The Panagia is the mother of all those who have been born again into the life of Christ. This is perfectly represented by Christ presenting the Panagia to St. John as the True Mother of all. – John 19:26. Thus the Virgin Mary is the Mother of all.

“What does your concern have to do with Me and you? My hour is not yet come.” Jesus is saying, the fact that the wedding company has run out of wine is not our business. Often in this Gospel, the phrase “My hour has not yet come” is mentioned. (7:30; 8:20; 7:6;) His hour is defined in 12:23 “Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified.” and in 17:1 “Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: ‘Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You…”

St. Gregory the Great says the Lord says this to show that the power to perform miracles is from the Father, not the Mother. What He receives from His mother is the nature to die. So the deeper meaning of the changing water into wine is its connection with the Lord’s arising from the dead on the third day, thus, the event alludes to Christ’s Resurrection.Without the sentence “My hour is not yet come” then some may assume that the Panagia is the source of this miracle. The Father is the source not His mother.

Skopos [deeper meaning]: The wedding story is thus analogous to salvation. St. John uses certain terms and details to emphasize a deeper understanding. He uses an interesting word selection for “servant”. He uses not the traditional word for servant (δουλος)  but rather διακονος or (deacon). This renders an understanding of the first century Church. The designation of this term “deacons” as servants in a type of mystery. This applies to the current wedding scene and as in a Eucharistic celebration. John also uses the symbolism of the waterpots. They were used for a special purification ceremony by the Jews. Obviously, the guests had participated in this purification ritual. But afterwards their joy was depleted because they ran out of wine. Wine is symbolically understood with the presence of true joy. Here we have a reference to Holy Communion, something John will re-introduce in chapter 6. John teaches us that true purification comes, not through cleansing rituals, but rather through the waters of baptisms.  True nourishment comes through the saving Blood of Christ in the Eucharist. The new wine is offered in contrast with the old in that there is an enormous amount of it.

Six stone jars – seven is the number of completion according to the Law. Christ is the fulfillment of the Law and there is an overabundance of joy with Jesus.

CLEANSING THE TEMPLE – New Worship
Somewhat abruptly we are told that Jesus went up to Jerusalem for a Passover, the first of three Passover events in John.

Cleansing of the Temple Whispers of an Immortalist: Icons of Christ's Passion 2

Why does Jesus do such a violent thing? He uses a whip (only John records this). It is a zealous occurrence shocking the Jews into a type of spiritual renewal and pointing out that the Temple’s purpose is for prayer and redemption, not trade. The secular has invaded sacred space.

NOTE: It is easy to turn God’s house into a bartering place and how churches can be used for profits rather than prophecy and teaching. It has always been easy to confuse piety and profits in relation to the Lord’s house. Contemplate: Can a correlation be made between this event and church festivals? The assembly in a parking lot with the selling of food items and knickknacks is not the same, nor can it be compared to the assembly of believers inside the Church. 

Skopos – The day is coming in the Kingdom of God where selling and buying shall be neither permitted nor necessary. Indeed, the coming age is one when God Himself shall supply every need of His children. Buying and selling will no longer be necessary

v. 18 The Jews in John, mostly means the religious leaders, not the entire nation.
v. 19 Destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. An obvious connection to His Resurrection.

The only Passover mentioned in the other Gospels was the one in which He died. Perhaps John places this event in the beginning of the narrative to spell out the most major events of Christ’s ministry first to base the entirety of the Gospel on the person of Christ. Already within two chapters John has explained that Jesus is God, eternal, in union with the Father, incarnation, Creator, miracle worker, the Giver of all joy, the One prophesied, the One who takes away the sins of the world, alludes to His death and Resurrection. And lastly, His confrontation with the Jewish religious leaders. For John, the entirety of the Gospel is based on the person of Jesus.

 

CHAPTER THREE
Nicodemus – New Life

Nicodemus comes to Christ, when? At night. Notice the reoccurring theme of “light and darkness” in verses 19-21. Nicodemus is afraid of the religious leaders but now he is beginning to leave the darkness and head toward Christ, Who is the True Light.

He thinks Jesus is a mighty prophet. Interesting, Nicodemus mentions the many “signs” that Jesus has performed. As of yet, Jesus has only begun His ministry and has only performed one miracle. {Again, John placing events that happened towards the end of Jesus ministry in the opening narrative.}

This chapter can be divided into two subsections: a) vs. 1-10 is a dialogue; b) vs. 11-21 is a monologue.

v. 3 Jesus’ answer doesn’t even seem to address his question. What is the connection?

Jesus politely corrects Nicodemus, for he thinks Jesus is merely a prophet and does not see divinity. Jesus’ response basically implies that naturally you have such concepts in your head since you have not been born from above; that is, you have not yet undergone spiritual birth from God, but retain a carnal outlook. Your knowledge of Me is not spiritual, but material and human.

Skopos – we cannot understand the things of heaven simply through intellect or study. We must encounter God through Jesus.

Still Nicodemus cannot comprehend what Jesus is saying. “How can a man be born again?” Christ’s words seem ridiculous to him since he is not thinking with a spiritual mind but rather a carnal mind.

v. 5 The Lord explains how spiritual rebirth takes place, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” A man is a two-fold being, consisting of soul and body. A man has already received the first birth by being born of a body in this world. Here, a sacramental understanding of Christian baptism is introduced: A soul also must be born by water (baptism) and Spirit (Chrismation).

One might ask, how does water make you born from above? In replay, Blessed Theophylact says, “this is possible because it follows the already established rule that human seed, is watery in its makeup, and this substance is transformed into a man, as with human conception. So with Baptism is water used to make the spiritual man.”

“That which is born of flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirt.” Here the Lord is saying, a man born through Baptism is spiritual. The newly baptized does not actually become a divine spirit; but rather, in and through the Holy Spirit he is adopted as a son, receives the gift of the Holy Spirit and is deemed worthy to become a spiritual man.

v. 7 The Lord understands that Nicodemus is confused and further says, the Spirit blows where it wills. In other words, you know that the physical wind is present when you hear it or feel it blowing. Yet, you do not know that its movement is uncontainable and unrestrained, and can rush in any direction it wants by natural power. The Lord says, the Holy Spirit is an unhindered power to move in any appropriate manner appointed to its nature. It’s nature does not have its own will but is moved in unison with God the Father.

v. 9 Still Nicodemus doesn’t comprehend. The Lord says your questioning rises from ignorance.

v. 11 Notice the use of the plural: “We know”

v. 13 Apparently, this verse has no connection to Jesus’ words. But it ties in with Jesus’ correcting of Nicodemus. The Son of Man is God; Jesus is the Son of Man, not merely a prophet.

v. 16 God love is so great that He gave us neither angels or prophets but His own Son – not one of many but His Only-begotten. In other words, His love cannot be surpassed. To be lifted up (suspended) on the Cross. His life would give us life. The Son is sent not to condemn the world. Had that been the reason for His coming, all mankind would have been condemned, “for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” .- Romans 3:23 The coming of God is to save the world.

Skopos- Here we are introduced to the heavenly birth and a pronunciation of certain Christological statements (“He will be lifted up as Moses lifted up…” & “unless one be born anew”) This is ongoing throughout the Gospel of John.

THE WITNESS OF JOHN
vs. 22-36 John knows his role in relation to Jesus. He remains faithful in the midst of a challenge from his own disciples.

Skopos – The fulfillment of joy is a mark of Jesus’ eternal fellowship with His followers.

Vs. 31-36 The superiority of the Son.