St. John’s Treasure Store

Fourth Sunday in Lent

John 3,14-21

People, myself included, have wondered how St John, writing about 30 years after the other Gospels, managed to remember verbatim the various ‘Discourses’ which Jesus had with individuals – like Nicodemus; with the Samaritan woman; Pontius Pilate; as well as three whole chapters 15-17 on Maundy Thursday with His Disciples at, and after, the Last Supper) – of which no record appears in Matthew, Mark or Luke.

John the Evangelist in Silence
by Nectarius Kulyuksin, Public domain

It looks as though John had a “Treasure-Store” of information, which the other Evangelists did not possess – or if they did, chose not to use, no doubt for sound reasons.

Here is a possible explanation. It’s not the only one, and may well be faulty; but for me it carries with it the “Ring-of-Truth“.

We know from John himself that on Good Friday at Calvary, Jesus commissioned both John, and His own Mother Mary each to be responsible for the other’s wellbeing, and as a result John “made a place for her into his own home” [19:27], in Jerusalem and, after John’s release from Patmos, in Ephesus. They would, no doubt, have shared their knowledge of Jesus, and His teachings, from childhood to His Ascension, and refreshed each other’s memory, becoming jointly that self-same Treasure-store. If so, we have the testimony of the same two people who were closest to Jesus during His Incarnation.

With that in mind, let’s look at four ‘gems’ from His teaching:

  • God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him [John 3,17]. We are living at a time when Blame is what many people attribute to others. How very different from God – who will go to any lengths, even by dying for us in order that we may be freed from the weight of blame which we carry on our shoulders.
  • People [love] ‘darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil’ [John 3,19]. Habitual blamers prefer the dark because it enables them to maintain a comfortable sense of their own righteousness. Reality comes when light begins to shine and reveals their true motive – which is to obscure their own blameworthiness.
  • Those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God. Christ is ‘The Light of the World’: which alone can bring Mankind to the Truth: namely that those whose deeds have been ‘done in God’ need have no fear of being condemned by Him’. We ‘should show forth the praises of Him Who has called [us] out of darkness into His marvellous light’– as St Peter wrote [1 Peter 2,9].
  • Why should we do this? Because ‘God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life’, as St John said in today’s reading. That is the sum-total of God’s Plan for dealing with the Problem of Evil!

Fr. Francis Gardom

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