I remain ever amazed at the power of God’s love showing through the plain spoken of this world. Amos was a farmer prophet who was used mightily by God in the Old Testament times. John “Racoon” Smith was a little more modern in the 1800’s and was admired, not as much for his academics, but more for his sheer dedication to making himself better in the pulpit, and preaching the truth in the most powerful ways he could muster. Of Smith, Alexander Campbell said, “John Smith is the only man that I ever knew who would have been spoiled by a college education.” Campbell was a premier orator and professor of his day. Both men were reported to have a mutual respect which translated itself into them becoming great brothers for the Lord, each having his own strength.
In the earliest times of the New Testament, Eusebius wrote of a quote of Clement of Alexandria, “John, last of all, conscious that the outward facts had been set forth in the Gospels, was urged on by his disciples, and, divinely moved by the Spirit, composed a spiritual Gospel.” John was likely aware of the other Gospels, but he chose another direction and only about 10% of his Gospel is overlapped by the synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Luke, and Mark. Clement is not indicating that the other Gospels were not as important. He is simply suggesting that John’s Gospel was more about the spiritual truths, than the chronological position of events.
In spite of John’s direction of depth and significance in his work, it is a work easily understood by the novice student and challenging to the veteran disciple. The intention of this work is to take us into the deepest waters of the Gospel of Jesus, realizing we won’t drown for our efforts. Many today find the Gospels to be too intricate to understand and they give up on the greatest human education. In all fairness to those writers, most men have little interest in real Biblical scholarship, especially when it requires personal change as a result of their actually understanding it. Biblical scholarship is not hindered by weak educations, nearly as much as the sinful heart which has determined to ignore God’s truth.
Like many other New Testament books it explains its purpose at the end. Since ancient Hebrews often communicated in pictures, it makes sense that much of this Gospel gives us “word pictures” as we learn about the Christ. John 21:25, “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.” While the ultimate purpose of the Bible is to help us understand a true relationship with God; each book can have intricate points and very specific details. In the case of the four Gospels, each one has its own audience, but be sure we can learn from each of the Gospels in different ways. God is compassionate enough to allow us a variety of avenues in our spiritual education and growth. The goal is not to create great academics, though I appreciate learned and educated teachers, as much as to save the souls of anyone seeking God in the pages of their Bible.
Regardless of your preferred rhetoric, be sure that each Gospel is the inspired Word of the Living God. In John’s case he strove to present the absolute deity of Christ through both His miraculous abilities and His loving compassion. He sought to display Jesus as The Savior who was uncontested as the Christ, and unyielding in His love for us all. John refers to himself as the disciple who was loved by Jesus. (John 13:23) The truth is also, that Jesus loves all of His disciples. In fact, Jesus loves the whole world! (John 3:16)
Are you an inspired student and practitioner of your faith? Are you struggling to know where to begin in learning about Jesus and His mission and purpose here with Man? In either case, I would suggest you begin with a real study of John. Anywhere is fine, just begin that walk and learn as much about Jesus as you can. You’ll never regret honest time spent in listening to the Spirit tell you about Jesus. All the best on your spiritual journey.