A Guide to Reading the Gospel of John
We are reading the Gospel of John to discover how to live in the light, to receive strength from the Holy Spirit and to experience God’s love that will equip us to live our daily lives in community with one another, and to minister to the world.
John’s Gospel is often referred to as the “Eagle’s Eye Gospel.” John’s deep insight into Jesus is compared to the eyesight of the eagle, which “can see a rabbit moving on the ground a mile below even in the moonlight.” (J.R.R. Tolkien) No bird can fly so high and see so keenly as the eagle. This is the insight into the person and work of Jesus Christ that John brings to us in his Gospel.
Chapters 1-11 are centered around 7 signs, or miracles, that Jesus did. John selected these 7 miracles and signs out of many miracles Jesus performed. (John 21:25) The purpose of these signs is found in John 20:30-31. A result of the signs can be found in John 10:41-42.
Write down the 7 signs found in the following passages:
- John 2:1-11
- John 4:46-54
- John 5:1-18
- John 6:1-15
- John 6:16-21
- John 9:1-7
- John 11:1-45
Read these miracle stories and make note of the things they teach us about Jesus. These signs were done openly, in the presence of His disciples. Many other people also saw the signs; they are open to all who will see and believe.
Another help in understanding John’s Gospel is to note the 7 “I AM” statements that Jesus Christ made about Himself.
In John chapter 8, Jesus made the most radical claim about Himself, so radical that the Jewish religious leaders attempted to stone Him. “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” (John 8:58-59) This was the name God revealed to Abraham to use when he went to Egypt to deliver God’s people.
Then, throughout the Gospel, there are 7 statements that begin with the words “I am. Write down the 7 “I AM” statements.
- John 6:35 (For example, Jesus says, “I am the Bread of life.”)
- John 8:12
- John 10:7
- John 10:11
- John 11:25
- John 14:6
- John 15:1
You may already have noticed that the Gospel of John includes much symbolism. For example, Jesus says that He is the Bread of life immediately after feeding the multitude of people with bread and fish. So “bread” is both physical bread and spiritual food as well. You will find this symbolism throughout your reading and studying of this book.
Spend some time meditating on these 7 miracles, or signs, and the 7 “I AM” statements Jesus made about Himself. Every sign, or miracle, that Jesus did teaches us about Jesus in a special way. John does not simply tell us that Jesus performed miracles; he also interprets Jesus’ miracles. Remember: John is sharing with us what he actually saw and heard as a disciple of Jesus. This is his eyewitness account. He opens up his treasure chest in order to create faith in his readers.
It would be good to prepare a notebook or journal of your observations and insights into the Gospel of John. Be sure to keep looking at the structure of this Gospel. John 12:36-50 will let you know that one large section of the Gospel is coming to a close. Then John 13:1 seems to open up a new section.
It may be helpful for your continuing study to begin to make an outline of the content of the Gospel of John. Or you can make a chart. But we will talk about that at a later time.
God bless you as you continue to study this wonderful book.