The Love of God in John’s Gospel: David Ford (continued)

(Unedited notes – so much great stuff to sift through and reread! Read this after the previous post with my notes therein)

Jean Vanier says there are three waves of love, culminating in Chapter 17

First Wave – Footwashing. Chapter 13

There are so many levels of imperative about foot washing as the fundamental. If we haven’t got this, we may as well not have read John. Scholars wonder why he doesn’t focus on the Eucharist here. In Chapter 6 he’s referencing it, where his feeding is of 5000 – so much wider and super abundant. The reason is that he wants to highlight the foot washing. He’s saying yes, celebrate the eucharist – but make sure you don’t forget to remember to do what he did practically. 

Jean Vanier underlines the sheer gentleness of touch here in John 13. 

Washing the feet of friend – and enemy.  

The Second wave – Chapter 15. The parable of the Vine. 

Ten abidings in ten verses = Abundant fruit. If my words abide in you – interiorise this gospel! Abide in my love. 

If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.

This is my command: Love each other.

No one has more abundant love… than to lay down his life.This is how we understand the cross, in terms of love. 

Two words for love in John:

Agape– has a history in the Septuagint;  Love the Lord your God, love in the Song of Songs is also agape. But this word is hardly used in the Hellenistic culture. So he also uses..

Philea– friendship. 

Is there a differentiation? Not really, John uses them interchangeably. He wants to engage with his culture. 

In the synoptics, Pharisees are not Jesus friends – but sinners are. 

In John, however, the stress is on mutuality – if you understand and know what the Master is doing, you’re his friend. You didn’t choose me, I chose you and appointed you to go out and bear fruit that will abide.

I am giving you these commands so that you will love one another. 

And then there is the way he dies that demonstrates love. 

Jesus is the friend who loves – a work of love that goes to the cross. The ultimate unity of the person and work of Jesus is to demonstrate love. 

John the Baptist says he comes to take away the sin of the world. What is that sin? Lack of love. How does he take that away? By giving ultimate love. 

John 3:16 – First mention of love is here. It’s linked to believing, trusting. This salvation is happening on the cross, as an act of love – to take away the sin of lack of love. 

The Good Shepherd – lays down his life for the sheep. ‘I have other sheep, there will be one flock…’ Unity through love. He loves all… and –

Jesus loved particular people; Lazarus. The Jews exclaim ‘See how he loved him!’ 

This particular act of love becomes the reason his enemies hate him and want to have away with them both. Death associated with love. 

Mary anoints his feet. An act of love.

The next chapter – he enacts love the same way – a slave’s acts of love before he dies a slaves death. 

Chapter 12: Now my soul is troubled. This is John’s take on Gethsemene. Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!”

Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.”

God’s glory is shown in this love. 

What is happening in the death of Jesus? How do we even get into the depths of this? 

Read – On A Theme From Julian’s Chapter XX – Denise Levertov. (She became a Christian writing a poem based on Doubting Thomas!)

John wants us to take the concept of glory very seriously and have it transformed by who Jesus is and what he does. 

We have seen his glory…

The first sign at Cana is the beginning of his glory… (so read all the signs as pointing to his glory) 

‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again’ 

The third wave of love:

John 17:1“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.” Mutual glorification! Shared with the disciples. We are invited into this radical intimacy and intimacy that belonged to God and God alone! 

This overflows to us and through us to the whole world! 

My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

That they might become ‘Completely One’– same root word as Tetelestai cried out on the cross.  Glory is the culmination of love. This is why worship matters so much. 

25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, (Shared the name: What’s the name? The Tetragrammaton that no Jew would speak!) and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” 

Glory in Creation. 

The seven signs of John are all signs of abundant life – FOR ALL! He cares for all that he created. All his children. All creation. John’s gospel has so much to say here re ecology:

If I am one with the One ‘through whom all things were made’ – all the things he made must matter to me too. Reconciliation, climate change.

Genesis terminology is shot through John. Jesus breathes into the disciples and it’s the same word as God breathing into Adam. New life in Jesus! The man and the woman are in the garden in Eden in the beginning, in Song of Songs, and in the resurrection. 

Resurrection = Loves Surprises: 

Jesus asks Mary, ‘Whom do you desire?” And she recognises the voice. “Rabboni!” = My teacher. Then the family is revealed for the first time, “My Father AND your Father.” 

Jesus and Thomas “My Lord and MY GOD.” Radical intimacy! 

But in the middle is the breathing of the Spirit. How does that happen? When they are in fear, (surprise!) freedom walks in!  Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. 21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

Jesus still passes through our walls. When he does, he meets us with our doubts too. He is free to be present in ways none of us can imagine. 

The beloved disciple is there at the end. Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”

22 Jesus answered, “If it is my desire to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” This is our eschatology: What is the future? The Future is Jesus.