Three Teachings from John’s Gospel (MP3s)

Our Sunday School class–what our church has re-termed Bible for Life–has been going through the Gospel of John for more than a year. I’ve had the opportunity to fill in on the odd occasion that the esteemed Dr. Finn has been away on a speaking engagement, or, more recently, welcoming the newest Finnling into the world. Congratulations!

My first teaching was back in November and covered the whole of John 13:1-20, “God the Son Dressed as a Servant” (MP3). In preparation for teaching that Sunday I researched the historical and cultural background of footwashing. I was blessed to discover what a deep and unique exhibition of love God the Son’s washing was. I understand it to be completely unprecedented in the ancient world for a superior to wash an inferior’s feet. But not only did Jesus wash his disciples’ feet, even more staggering than that, he washed his betrayer’s feet. This is the sort of radical savior we have, who made himself nothing, assuming the garb of a lowly servant to actually, physically serve his disciples by washing their feet. I was quite frankly overwhelmed at meditating on Jesus’ love in this story. Amazing.

My second teaching was only two weeks ago and covered John 16:4b-15, “The Ascended Sovereign Sender” (MP3). I love the fact that I got to pick up at John 16:4b. Well, versification isn’t original anyways, so why not accent it with letters of the alphabet, too! What I loved about teaching this passage is the surety of the savior’s ascension. “I was with you.” He speaks as if he’s already gone. Too, we daren’t miss the eschatological perspective of the ascended savior’s sending of the Spirit. We get a clear picture of this through Peter’s Pentecost sermon in Acts 2. It’ll come as no surprise to most readers that in my preparations for teaching this section I disappointingly found a dearth of Reformed/Calvinistic material on the Holy Spirit. The Reformed systematic theologies I have on my shelf (both physical and virtual) give little space to the One who fills all space. So, to what better place to turn than the Apostle Peter’s interpretation of Joel and the sending of the Spirit. That’s good enough for me!

Last week in my third teaching I picked up where my second left off and covered John 16:16-24a. I titled this “I Will See You Again and You Will Rejoice” (MP3). Here Jesus poses somewhat of a riddle to his disciples and, fortunately for us, he goes on to clarify what he means. While I found J. Ramsey Michaels’ new commentary on John (NICNT) really useful for preparing, on this particular section (Jesus’ “riddle” in particular [my quotes not his]) he proceeded with a somewhat idiosyncratic interpretation for which he didn’t convincingly argue. In plain, whether naive or not, I stuck with what I think to be a common sense reading of the passage that sees “after a little while you will not see me” as Jesus’ crucifixion, death and burial, and “after a little while you will see me” as his resurrection. Additionally, I was sure to leave room for a second adventual dimension to Jesus’ statement as we see hints of future eschatology in the subsequent verses (e.g., Jesus’ childbirth parable [allusion to  Isaiah  66?] and his words “in that day”). Overall, I loved teaching this section. As sure as Jesus is truth he will see us again and we will rejoice! Halelujah, what a Savior!

Man of Sorrows! what a name
For the Son of God, who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Guilty, vile, and helpless we;
Spotless Lamb of God was He;
“Full atonement!” can it be?
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Lifted up was He to die;
“It is finished!” was His cry;
Now in Heav’n exalted high.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

When He comes, our glorious King,
All His ransomed home to bring,
Then anew His song we’ll sing:
Hallelujah! What a Savior!