Lectionary Year B
March 26, 2000
John 2:13-22

Step III: Context


Pre: The first 12 verses of John 2 tell of Jesus' first miracle, turning the water into wine at the wedding in Cana of Galilee. It ends by stating that the disciples, having seen that it was Jesus who did this miracle, "believed in him", according to the NRSV.

Post: The rest of John chapter 2 tells of Jesus' affect on people in Jerusalem where he stays for the Passover. It says, "many believed in his name because they saw the signs that he was doing." Then, it concludes, Jesus "knew what was in everyone."

(FS) John places temple cleansing near beginning of his gospel rather than near the passion like synoptic gospels.
Immediate preceding pericopes: prologue (1: 1-14), Jesus' first public miracle (wedding at Cana).
Immediate following pericopes: some people in Jerusalem begin to believe, but Jesus does not trust them (23-25); ch. 3, dialogue with nicodemus, then encounter with Samaritan woman.
Through teaching, Jesus begins to reveal his identity as messiah. "John's" aim: to lead readers to believe that jesus is the messiah.

      The Gospel of John notes repeatedly how Jesus' person and mission confuse and/or bewilder his family members, the disciples and others in his circle of friends, the priests and rabbis, the Pharisees and others. Many of these by-standers notice "signs" and seek interpretations thereof. The "special intent" of this Gospel is admitted in 20:31, "written that you might believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and believing you might have life in his name". Some call the fourth Gospel "more spiritual" than the synoptics. I have called it "more philosophical" than the others. Am I close to right, if philosophy is defined as "the study of principles of the widest generality"?
      John's scope is global and he frequently more than the synoptics seeks to explain some of the theological meanings of Jesus' sayings and ministries. John's Gospel certainly takes more time and attention to try to interpret what Jesus did and said. It emphasizes Jesus' role as principal revealer of God.
      Someone has noticed that the fourth Gospel more than the synoptics presents Jesus as patiently conversant by letting hearers interrupt him and by dialoguing with them and/or even debating with them. In John's Gospel we find more new material not in the synoptics. The Gospel of John seems to focus on the person of Jesus, what his life meant and how believers are to find meaning in our lives to believe in God and divine grace. This Gospel makes it clear that the Jews were in error by refusing to call Jesus the Messiah. When he clears the Temple, he is challenging their customs, traditions and values, most graphically. He spends most of his three years in adulthood and ministry in Jerusalem in the Gospel of John, only on a few brief occasions going to Galilee.


Most recent scholarship seems to reclaim the earlier (centuries 1 and 2 CE) supposition that John, the son of Zebedee, brother of James and disciple wrote the fourth Gospel or that a disciple of his did. Some think John dictated it late in his life from memory and/or from mature reflection on Jesus' speeches and deeds. The general agreement of date of composition is late in the first century of the Common Era.

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