Lectionary Year B
April 13, 2003
John 12:12-16

Step III: Composition

A. Immediate Context

(JFC) Pre - John 12's first 11 verses tell of Jesus' going to Bethany 6 days before the Passover to Lazarus', Mary's and Martha's house. There, Mary bathed Jesus' feet with costly ointment to which action Judas criticized. He pretending to favor selling the ointment and giving the money to the poor, whom Jesus reminded them they would always have with them and that what Mary did anticipated His burial. A crowd gathered to see Jesus and Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead and the chief priests planned to execute Lazarus, too.

Post - John 12:17-50 begins with the report that the crowd that had been at the tomb when Jesus raised Lazarus "continued to testify." The Pharisees observed that His popularity leaves them powerless. Then some of the Greeks at the Passover wanted to meet Jesus who told them His glorification approached and He used the analogy of a seed's dieing to bear fruit and told them about giving up life to inherit eternal life and following Him will issue in God's being honored. Then God's voice from heaven pronounced His glorification and predicted a repeat of it, too. He prophesied that "the ruler of this world will be driven out" and that He would draw all people unto Himself. The crowd questioned His overcoming the Mosaic tradition and He alluded to their walking in the light as long as it (He, shown on earth?) was with them. With many still not believing, Jesus departed and hid in order to fulfill the prophecies of Isaiah, re: blinded eyes and hardened hearts without understanding so He could heal them. Many did believe but were reluctant to admit it for fear the Pharisees would expel them from the synagogue. Jesus declared that He was the light of God and would not judge but rather save those who heard His word even without believing. He concluded that God's "commandment is eternal life."

B. Organization of Compositional Whole

(JFC) As previously in these notes it is remarked that John's Gospel is mostly about Jesus, who He is, what He does, especially in bringing life, both eternal and realized eschatologically, and how believers, by faith in Him, take advantage of that gift of Life. This Gospel begins with a distinctive Prologue, 1:1-18. Next, 1:19-2:11, accounts for some of Jesus' and John the Baptist's first testimonies given to the disciples and others saying Jesus is God's Son. Thereafter, 2:12-12:50 tell of Jesus' acts, conversations and discourses. Then, chapters 13 through 20 report Jesus' teachings, especially to His disciples about His arrest, trial, death and resurrection and their significance for believers. John's Gospel identifies its primary intension in 20:31, "written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that believing you might have life in His name." This Gospel's final chapter (21) records a post resurrection appearance, Peter's ministry and death and the role of the one called "the beloved Disciple".

C. Issues of Authorship

(JFC) These pages of Bi 216 on line have reported before, that John, the son of Zebedee and brother of James and disciple of Jesus' is thought to have written this Gospel late in the first century of the Common Era. Irenaeus (c. 130-200) was right confident that was the case. Since John might well have been martyred before getting to Ephesus, thought to be the local origin of this work and as Mark 10:39 predicts, some scholars find possible identities of the author of this, the Fourth Gospel, to be Lazarus, John Mark or a disciple of John's, Zebedee's son. Most evidence seems to consider that this Gospel was written in Ephesus, perhaps by John in his advanced years. It seems to contain first hand memories of Jesus' ministry and life.

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