I was grateful for three sessions on John’s Gospel from David Ford at @CarlisleDiocese Cumbria Ministry Development Day 2022.
Here’s 10 tips that I took away from Professor Ford on reading, praying & living John’s gospel:
- John talks in ‘waves’ – cumulative sentences that wash up on the beach like breakers, each one slowly building upon the other going higher up the beach.
- Try re-reading John’s prologue as a prelude of perspective every time you read any other section of the gospel.
- Translating the Greek verb pisteuo as ‘TRUST’ rather than ‘believe’ captures in contemporary language the sense of a relational response John intended.
- Prayerfully expect the abundance of life & grace-upon-grace that John often describes to be your experience as you read his gospel.
- John expects that his readers – as those who have “not seen” (20:29) – to read and to believe and so find life (20:30-31). The Word is present and active in these words.
- Underestimate the presence of the Old Testament in John at your peril! John has less quotations but is pervasively immersed in the Scriptures of Israel.
- People sometimes ask, ‘where is the church in John?’ Follow the beloved disciple, follow Mary, and see how they ‘remain’ in Christ, relating as a community formed at the foot of the cross.
- As a broad brushstroke structure, John gives you a big horizon of God-and-everything (prologue), then the drama of Jesus, his life and resurrection, then the on-going drama of ourselves as disciples living with the Spirit.
- Two key words: AS and SO. Throughout John, AS the Father does, SO the Son. This is crucial – and especially pivotal is 20:21 where we see our place in this. We are sent AS & SO.
- You can’t get far in John without bumping into God’s love. The Father loves. The Son loves. We’re called to be loved & to love. This is theologically profound & yet the nature of our hearts means that pastorally it can inevitably be difficult to accept.
I hope I’ve articulated these fairly to Prof. Ford, & all credit to him for these insights. For any unintended errors or misemphasis, my apologies!