Study Notes on the Gospel of John

In my view, the gospel writer, John writes in a manner that reflects the concept of “thin places.”  Thin places means a place where God is present in a deep and meaningful way.  This means they could be anywhere. But they can also mean special spaces where heaven and earth meet – or at least have a flimsy boundary that allows for the divine and human to go back and forth.  For John, the prologue is like a thin place where heaven and earth meet in Jesus (1:14-18).  Jesus, is the divine-human messenger who is presented as the Logos (Word) and Light who reveals God as Father.  In the first four verses of John 1, the reader is swept into a cosmic stage where he or she reads about Jesus, the Word before any word was spoken and the Co-creator of the Universe (1:3-4). This is Jesus who was before time and creation began. This is Jesus who is not from our planet and dimension. But because of a powerful force called LOVE (1:18; 3:16) came to our planet to reveal who God is – the God who he calls Father.  John begins his story about Jesus by telling the reader/audience that the person I am about to introduce to you is no ordinary being but someone who is going to change your life if you believe in him. (Another example of “thin places” encounters in the Bible are Moses meeting God in the burning bush (Exodus 3) and Jesus transfigured on the mountain. John alludes to it in John 1:14 and the Synoptic Gospels report with more detail (Matthew 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-8; and Luke 9:28-36).

Jesus, the Logos made human, who was the Word/Message and the Messenger who showed up and pitched his tent among humans not just to save them but to inspire them to live empowered by the Light, who shines in the midst of darkness.  It will be helpful to the 21st century reader to know that John’s reference to “the Jews,” does not mean all Jewish people.  “The Jews” in John’s Gospel are the Jewish religious leaders and those who rejected Jesus as God’s Son.  John’s Gospel must not be used to incite anti-Jewish sentiments. John is making a differentiation between the Jews who believed and those who did not believe (cf. John 8:31-32).  John’s Gospel included a promise of eternal life for whoever (Jews and non-Jews) believed in God’s Son (John 3:16) because of God’s love.

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Carla Romarate-Knipel

Ever since I was a child, I enjoyed reading and writing. Perhaps it was because my parents were great storytellers and voracious readers. As soon as I learned to write (yes I did it in cursive like everybody else did then!) I started a diary. When I was nine years old I sent a letter to my Dad who was an overseas contract worker in Guam. I wrote it in a form of a comic book and illustrated it myself. As a student at the Central Philippine University Elementary School, I was the Filipino literary editor of our school paper, the Mini Echo. To this day I was baffled by that because I was not that good in Filipino! In highs school I served as literary editor in the Central High Herald. I began to write poems and short stories that unfortunately I don't have any copies saved because we didn't have computers and flash drives then. II joined a short story writing contest sponsored by Central echo, CPU's college paper some time in the 1980's. I joined because I needed money to buy a new pair of sandals. My short story was titled, "Leaves," and it won first place! The chief judge was Prof. Alfredo Q. Gonzales, author of the classic essay, "The Will of a River," one of my favorite reads of Filipino literature in English. I did a lot of writing in college/seminary and graduate school but the most fun I had was when I was writing poems and short stories. Fast forward to the 21st century, I now write sermons every week and articles for our monthly news letter. Currently I serve as Senior Pastor of Central Baptist Church of Woodbury in Woodbury, New Jersey, U.S.A. This is my twelfth year at CBC, where my husband and I served as co-interim pastors from 2010 through 2012. We have a 19-year old son who is a college freshman, and my technical adviser in all things digital. In this continuing writing adventure I am thankful to God for giving me the inspiration to write and the joy that goes with it. I hope that my poems, prayers and prose inspire joy in my readers.

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