Did you ever use Cliff Notes in school to write a report from? I did a few times, but usually even that was too ambitious for me. In the days before E-Books they used to put plot summaries on the dust jacket of books, and with the addition of enough empty paragraph padding, I would often write my report solely from that. I should mention that I got terrible grades, so there is a moral lesson to be learned there.
Summaries can be helpful though, if we are trying to assemble a quick understanding of information that we’ve already gathered. “Here’s the story so far” can be very useful if we’re trying to get oriented in a developing plot. In John 12:44-50, which we’ll be reading this Sunday, Jesus provides a sort of summary of his own ministry just before he stops speaking publicly. Its as though Jesus makes one last appeal to the crowds and tries to get them up to speed about who he is, what he’s doing and why it matters. That’s what we’ll be considering as we explore this section.
The first important thing Jesus wants to get across is in v44-45. What sort of connection does Jesus describe between himself and God the Father – and what do we understand about Jesus’ purpose from that? If you’ve followed along with this study, we’ve talked about John’s overall theme: If you want to know what God is like, take a long hard look at….who?
The second important thing Jesus summaries himself by is found in v46. This isn’t new, he’s said this same thing several times already, most notably in chapter 8. What is the difference between the way we proceed through a dark room and the way we proceed through a room that is well lit? How does the light effect things? What does this tell us about the nature of Christ’s light – how and what does he illuminate?
Finally, Jesus sums himself up in v47-50. What does Jesus say he didn’t come to do, and what does he say he did come to do? How do you understand the idea that his words will be the judge? Jesus sums up God’s message through him in v50 – what does he say? What should our mission and message be as the church who represents Jesus in this world? How can we better represent him to the world around us?
I hope this will be an enlightening (pun intended) study – hope to see you there!