Blog # 200 John Chapter 6 - 1 It will take more than one blog to respond to Chapter six of St.John's Gospel. First of all it is very important to place the entire Gospel of John in its historical context. Matthew Mark and Luke gave us their stories of the life death and resurrection of Jesus, where Jesus came from, what He did and said in the short number of the years of His life on earth, what happened to Him in the end.Before writing his Gospel John, in his old age, had the advantage of several decades of the early history of the Church. Peter, James, and Paul, along with the other Apostles and many heroic lay members of the Church had suffered cruel deaths as the price of believing in Jesus and remaining faithful to Him. It was a high price to pay. But there was no other way for them to love God as Jesus taught them and as He had done, with unconditional trust and total self-giving. They had given all they had to give and they knew full well by faith the reward of martyrdom was well worth its price.
As several decades of history came and went after Jesus ascended into Heaven, the baton of faith had been handed down by those who were eye witnesses to His life on earth to the next two generations. The challenge of persecution and death a Christian would be called upon to face in order to remain faithful to Jesus did not come to an end. Some would find the challenge too difficult to overcome and traded their faith for a place of honor in the pagan government or simply for the experience of remaining alive. John would no doubt have been aware of this situation. He would have had in mind those who did not have the advantage he did in knowing Jesus personally and face to face, witnessing His miracles, and being guided by His wisdom and goodness, sharing His prayer experience and now in his old age living by faith day by day with faith in the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, with the personal guidance and support of the Holy Spirit promised and won for all who would retain their faith in Jesus now glorified in His Resurrection and Ascension.Consequently, in support of those living around him whose faith in Jesus might be seriously threatened, John wrote his Gospel with a focus upon the the most authentic, fundamental, and logical basis of our unconditional faith in Jesus, HIS DIVINITY. Throughout the writing of his Gospel John goes out of his way to establish the identity of Jesus as divine. "The reason why the Jews were more determined to kill Jesus was that he was speaking of God as his Father, and thereby making himself God's equal." (Jn 5: 18). John would have Jesus say: "If you knew me you would know the Father too." ( Jn 8: 19, 14: 7) . "The Father and I are one." ( Jn 10: 30). "I solemnly declare it: before Abraham came to be, I AM". (Jn 8: 58). John's Gospel begins with the identical words with which the entire Bible begins in Genesis, verse one Chapter One : "In the beginning..." The Gospel of John identifies 1) the Word of God with God, and 2) Jesus with the Word of God. Come among us in the Incarnation , Emmanuel, the Word is given the name Jesus. The process of identifying Jesus as personally identified with The Word, and therefore the process of identifying Jesus as DIVINE, is essential for a proper understanding of the events and meaning of Chapter Six of John's Gospel and indeed of his entire Gospel.