The Creation Gospel
John's Gospel is a Midrash on Creation, comparing the life and person of Yeshua the Messiah with the first chapter of Genesis. Christians commonly quote John's Gospel for evangelistic purposes, and Creationists support the concept of "Creation Evangelism", on the basis that people have to be convinced that there is a Creator if salvation is to have any meaning. This article reveals how John's Gospel describes the Messiah as both Creator and Saviour.
In the Beginning was the Word
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. (John 1:1-3)
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. (Gen. 1:1-2)
The first three words "in the beginning" are identical in John's Gospel and Genesis, making it clear from the outset that John's Gospel is a midrash on Genesis.
The "Word" is compared with the "Spirit", or literally the "breath" of God. Just as our own words are carried by our breath, so the Word of God is carried by his Spirit.
There was darkness and chaos, and nothing happened until God spoke, so that each day of creation begins with the words:
And God said ...
All these things were created by the word of God, and none of them came about just by themselves.
The Greater and Lesser Light
In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. (John 1:4-9)
And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. (Gen. 1:16)
Yeshua is compared with the light of the Sun, and John the Baptist is compared with the light of the moon. The Sun is the primary source of light, but the Moon has no light of its own, it just reflects or "witnesses" the light of the Sun, as the psalmist David says:
Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David. His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me. It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven. Selah. (Psalm 89:35-37)
How Old Was The Wine?
John Chapter 2 continues the theme of Creation by describing the wedding in Cana, where Yeshua turns water into wine. Have you ever asked yourself, why should the first miracle recorded in John's Gospel be related to a social event, rather than a basic need such as the feeding of the five thousand or healing the sick? The important thing is not the event, but a detail of the story that can be easily missed.
When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, and saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now. (John 2:9-10)
Anyone who has made wine will know that it takes time to ferment, and then it takes some more time to mature. The longer you leave it, the better it gets. Yet Yeshua could make good wine instantly. When he made the wine, he gave it the appearance of age.
Now here is a question about creation. How old was Adam when he was created? He was an adult, not a baby, so God gave him an age. How old were the trees, from which Adam and Eve ate the fruit (including the fruit they were not supposed to eat). It takes a few years for a seed to grow into a tree bearing fruit, yet these trees were fully grown and bearing fruit during the creation week, so they were given an age. The purpose of this miracle was to show his Divinity, that he could create things and give them an age.
This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him. (John 2:11)
Note John's use of words. The "beginning" of Yeshua's miracles shows him as Creator. It would have been easier to say the "first" of his miracles, using the Greek word "proton" but instead he uses "arche" which means "beginning".
The Pool of Bethesda
After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had. And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole? The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me. Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath. (John 5:1-9)
This story can be compared with Creation as follows:
Feeding the Five Thousand
There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many? And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten. Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world. (John 6:9-14)
The five barley loaves represent the five books of the Torah, and the two fishes represent the two tablets of stone that were given to Moses on Mt. Sinai. The twelve baskets left over represent the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve gates of the city bearing their names, and the twelve foundations bearing the names of the twelve apostles. (Rev. 21:10-14)
The miracle of the loaves and fishes is an act of multiplication rather than creation out of nothing. However, it still relates to Genesis because it is only by the Word of God that multiplication occurs, as the Lord has said:
... Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it... (Gen. 1:28)
The feeding of the five thousand is recorded in all four gospels, but a subsequent occasion in which Yeshua fed four thousand is recorded in Matthew and Mark. On this occasion there were seven loaves and a few fishes, and seven baskets were left over. It could be argued that the numbers should relate to something, although there is no reason to believe that Matthew and Mark are using numbers and events to create analogies in the same way as John.
The Man Born Blind
And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing. (John 9:1-7)
This story includes the rather strange detail, that Yeshua spat on the ground and made clay of the spittle, and anointed the man's eyes. Why did he do this? I think it was because he was creating new eye components that had not been there since birth, and he wanted to create them from the dust of the earth, just as Adam had been created. Thus he showed that he was with the Father, creating the world at the beginning.
The water, to wash off the clay, has no real significance. The man had to wash off the clay because he would not be able to see through it.
Before the Beginning
And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. (John17:5)
Not just an allusion this time. This is a direct statement that Yeshua was glorified, with the Father, before the creation of the world.
It Is Finished
When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. (John 19:30)
When Yeshua said "It is finished", he meant that he had completed all the work on this earth that his Father had commanded him to do, to secure salvation for humanity. He finished all his work on the sixth day of the week, just as God had finished his work of Creation on the sixth day.
And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. (Gen. 1:31-2:2)
For a discussion of the day of the crucifixion, see my article Three Days and Three Nights.
Only John's Gospel records the words "It is finished", presumably because he is comparing it with Creation.
Too Many Books
The very last verse of John's Gospel is similar to the opening verses, insofar as it is about the the word and the world.
And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen. (John 21:25)
The clear meaning of this statement is that there were not enough parchments and animal skins to write down all the works of Yeshua. They didn't have an abundance of paper in those days, as we do. However, the impact of this statement, right at the end of the book, is to draw us back to the beginning. John is saying that just as the world was created by the Word of God, so it is unable to contain everything that can be known about God. It is also a possible allusion to the Temple which could not contain the Lord.
But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded? (1 Kings 8:27. See also 2 Chr. 2:6, 6:18)
All the Gospels emphasise the status of Yeshua as Messiah, and they are not just historical narratives of the events in his life. John's Gospel in particular contains lengthy dialogues on the "Bread of Life" and the "Light of the World", so that some evangelicals consider it to be the "spiritual" Gospel. John gives some direct statements about the pre-existence of Yeshua, and his participation in the work of Creation. He is also good at midrashim, so that he makes allusions to creation while relating the events in the life of Yeshua.