Scripture Study -- The Gospel of John

In its forward to John’s Gospel, the Catholic Study Bible gives us a picture of what to expect in this gospel which was probably written in the 90’s of the first century. "The Gospel according to John is quite different in character from the three synoptic gospels. It is highly literary and symbolic. It does not follow the same order or reproduce the same stories as the synoptic gospels. To a much greater degree, it is the product of a developed theological reflection and grows out of a different circle and tradition."

In this synopsis, we look at John 6:35-40 and John 10:22-30.

Everybody hungers for a sure thing. Gamblers spend their lives trying to figure out a system that will enable them to always win at the tracks or the tables. Stock investors dream of discovering the underlying laws of economics that would enable them to never lose on the market. Romantics search for that special feeling that assures them that this is the one they are destined to love and marry. We are all suckers for the pitch man who tell us they can take the risk out of life if we only take their seminar or follow their plan or buy their product. But none of these dreams are destined to come true. Life is too uncertain for such get-rich, sure-fire schemes. In fact, only the people selling the schemes seem to have a fail-safe system. There are no foolproof ways to get rich or to be happy.

But Jesus offered a kind of security that never fails. He told his followers that no one who comes to him will ever hunger or thirst again. He promised them that he would lose none of the followers that God had given him. According to Jesus, faith is a no-lose affair. Of course, we need to be clear about what is included in "faith." Jesus is certainly not saying that faith will make us healthy, wealthy, and wise. He is not promising rationality, prosperity, and longevity to his followers. What he is saying is that every good deed is remembered by God. Whatever happens to us, finally nothing of real value is ever lost. Our lives are safe in God. Our toil for the good is safe in God. Our love is safe in God. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain by following Christ.

Even during the time that Jesus was on this earth, there were people who sat on the fence about his mission and message. They had heard his wonderful teachings and seen his wondrous miracles. But they were still not convinced. They apparently wanted Jesus to come right out and tell them that he was the Messiah. "If you really are the Messiah, tell us so in plain words!" they demanded. But Jesus brushed off their request. "What good would it do if I told you I was the Messiah?" he replied. "You have seen the works that I do in my Father's name. If you refuse to believe the works, what possible reason would you have for believing the words?" With that answer, Jesus laid down a timeless truth about the life of faith. Faith cannot be proven with clever arguments or dogmatic pronouncements. The proof of faith is in our deeds.

Maybe this is why the world is so indifferent to the claims of the gospel. They have not seen the kind of lives that lend authenticity to our verbal witness. Gandhi, the great Indian saint who liberated his nation from British rule, was a great admirer of Jesus. Many trace Gandhi's method of non-violence to Jesus' teachings on nonresistance: "If a man slap you on the cheek, turn the other cheek." People often asked Gandhi why he did not become a Christian. His answer was simple and to the point: "Because I have never met a Christian!" Gandhi meant that he had never met anyone who lived up to the ideals of Jesus. For Gandhi, the only proof of the truth of the teachings of Jesus were actions and attitudes consistent with those teachings. Until he saw that kind of proof, he could not consider becoming a Christian.

The message for us is clear. If we claim to be a Christian, we must act like one. This is the best way to make converts.