Study Guide

God in Gospel of John

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God never makes an actual appearance in the Gospel of John, so we don't need to talk about him. The end.

Oh, wait.

This guy is everywhere—even when he's not. God sets all the events of the story in motion and he's the one who all the characters claim to be following. So what's his deal?

God's Got Backs

Throughout the story, God's name is on everyone's lips. Jesus calls him "Father" and lives his life according to God's will. Even the people who can't stand Jesus claim to hate him because his teaching and actions are offending God. Little do they know, God totally and completely has Jesus's back.

How do we know? Because Jesus tells us God is on his side, and Jesus is always right. Yep, in John's gospel, we're told that Jesus knows his stuff.

The religious authorities, on the other hand, think they have a pretty good confirmation that God is on their side. It's a little book they like to call the Torah. They've been following it since they were tiny Pharisees-to-be. And God would never renege on Holy Scripture, right?

The authors of this gospel want us to side with Jesus, but not everyone does. What do you think: is the story convincing?

There's Only a Plan A

The Gospel explains God's master plan pretty clearly. He needs to send Jesus into the world to (1) show us all how much God loves us and (2) make him die a miserable death.

Lots of people have speculated over the years that maybe God is a not-so-nice deity—after all, he asks his beloved son to die on the cross. But if we're taking The Gospel of John's words as the final say, that's not the case. The authors tell us that Jesus is "the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world" (1:29, 36) and that his death is also going to "glorify God" (21:19). That means that Jesus's death is another step in God's plan for saving the world.

Is that fair? Is it right? If not, it's just one more event in a long line of totally unfair things God has asked people to undergo to prove a point. Check out Abraham's almost-sacrifice of Isaac and everything that happens to Job for just two examples.

Shut Up and Believe

The gospel writers want us to be like Jesus, which means no questions for the all-knowing God, please. God wants Jesus to die and that's what's going to happen. Period. End of story.

Of course, that won't stop us from whispering about God in the halls between classes.

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