The question of Jesus’ identity arises often in John’s Gospel. While the other Gospels make much of Jesus’ frequent instruction for those who recognised him as Messiah not to tell anyone, John’s Gospel does not emphasis this “Messianic secret” as much. Rather, in passages like the Gospel reading for this Sunday, Jesus seems quite comfortable to claim the title of Messiah – although still in an enigmatic way. One thing is very clear in all of the Gospels – Jesus was very different kind of Messiah from the one the people expected. This is why the question of faith is central to John’s Gospel. As in this week’s reading, John constantly contrasts those who fail to believe (or who believe only in miracles) and those whose faith is genuine.
At the heart of John’s picture of Jesus is the final statement in today’s reading: “The Father and I are one”. This is not a statement about God’s gender. It’s a statement about God’s nature. If we want to know what God is like, we need only look to Jesus. Any time our ideas about God contradict what we see in Jesus, we must know that we’ve misunderstood God. Jesus reveals what God is really like – offensively inclusive, radically compassionate, restoratively just, and self-sacrificially loving. This week our meditations will lead us into a deeper glimpse of how Jesus – the Good Shepherd – reveals God to us.
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