The holidays have wound their way down.  I hope your season had beautiful moments of laughter and joy.  And I hope that you are ready to dig deep into the wells of scripture and get a portrait of our Lord, Jesus.  That is our goal in this study.  Jesus said in John 14:9 – “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.”  I believe that He is telling us that if we see Him, as He really was, we are looking straight into the face of God. 

There is a longing in every human heart to know God.  It’s that ache for ‘fullness’ that we all experience.  Beware allowing Satan to convince you that some ‘substance’ will fill that void.  It is reserved for God.  We can’t fill it with a husband, or with children … not with food or shopping.  It is reserved for God.  And only His Presence can ease the longing for completeness. 

So, our goal is to see Jesus … and in seeing Him … we see God.  Then my faith grows stronger and my priorities have a way of settling into place.

Let’s consider some logistics of the book. 
Author:  the Apostle John.  There are those who question that because he never names himself in the book.  But the majority of Biblical scholars agree that John, the apostle, is the author.  Even early church fathers like Irenaeus and Tertullian were convinced of the apostle’s authorship. 

John’s heritage:  John was from Galilee, a northern province removed from Judea and Jerusalem.  The atmosphere would have been a bit freer there.  The closer one got to Jerusalem, the more bound by strict religious law.  Many of Jesus’ apostles were called in Galilee.  I wonder if He knew they would be more receptive to new thinking?  To new interpretations? 

Family:  John’s father was Zebedee, a fisherman in Capernaum.  We assume that the family had some financial means because we learn that they had hired workers in the fishing business.  His mother was Salome.  (learned as we compare Matthew 27: 55 – 56 with Mark 15:40 – 41)  I love that she followed Jesus as well.  She was nearby at the cross.  His brother was James.  We don’t know for sure which was older.  We may be able to assume that James was because his name is most always mentioned first. 

Temperament:  In his natural fleshly self, John was hot-tempered.  In fact, Jesus even nicknamed he and his brother, Sons of Thunder!  What would your nickname from Jesus be – in your natural temperament?  Would He call you Pitiful Pauline? or Arrogant Alice? or Whiner Winny?  Don’t miss the fact that John was transformed by Jesus.  He lost that early nickname … and began to take on the name, “the apostle of love.”  Do you need transformation from your natural self to yourself touched by the Lord?  I do! 

The book was written about 98 A.D.  So the generation that had walked when Jesus was in the flesh has thinned and was nearly gone.  The other three gospels were written to tell the story.  John writes about 40 years later and his goal is different.  He does not seem to concern himself with chronology of events.  His purpose is to reveal the divinity of Jesus … God in flesh … the Logos in flesh.  He writes so that his readers may believe … and in believing, have life! 

Let’s begin our study with these words from William Barclay:

John the apostle, the last of the apostles set down, not only what he had heard Jesus say, but also what he now knew Jesus had meant. There were many things which seventy years ago he had not understood; there were many things which in these seventy years the Spirit of Truth had revealed to him.  These things John set down even as the eternal glory was dawning upon him.  When we read this gospel let us remember that we are reading the gospel which of all the gospels is most the work of the Holy Spirit, speaking to us of the things which Jesus meant, speaking through the mind and memory of John the apostle.  Behind this gospel is the whole church at Ephesus, the whole company of the saints, the last of the apostles, the Holy Spirit, the Risen Christ himself

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So we begin … and my prayer for us is …

Lord, over the next 8 weeks, let us see You.  Increase our capacity for love of You.  Take our love-relationship with You to the next level.