Monday, November 24, 2008

Repetition in the Book of John

I have really enjoyed studying the book of John, especially for its literary merit. As an English major, I find John's use of repetition of phrases and symbols especially interesting. I'd like to show, in outline form, some of the connections that I've made:
John 1:37-38–Jesus tells Andrew and John to "come and see" where He dwells, after He asks them the question, "What seek ye?"
John 11:34–Here, the disciples repeat the phrase, "Come and see," to Jesus when He asks where they have laid Lazarus. I wonder if this is almost mocking in tone; they might be insinuating, "Lazarus now dwells in the tomb because you were not here to save him." This could explain why Jesus weeps in the next verse: he is weeping because his followers do not yet understand his power, that he brings life and hope, and not death and despair.
John 20:15–Here is an implicit repetition of dwelling in the tomb. Jesus comes to Mary and asks, "Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou?" Mary, like the disciples in John 1, is seeking for the dwelling place of the Savior, which just three days ago was the tomb. But, He is not there.
John 11:44–When Lazarus comes forth, he is "bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin." Jesus tells the people to "loose him, and let him go." Lazarus's returning from the dead was not truly resurrection because he was still mortal–like the clothes binding his body, he was still bound by mortality.
John 20:5 & 7–But, when Jesus resurrects himself, He is resurrected as an immortal being, no more to die. The linen cothes are lying, "and the napkin, that was about his head, [is] not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself."
Christ broke the bands of mortality, shook off the figurative gravclothes that bind us all. Where is man's dwelling place? Not in the tomb! Where lies victory? Not in the grave! Christ's call to all of us is to "come and see" his love and power, to seek him who will give us everlasting life. Our dwelling place, if we seek it, will be with Him and with Father, with our families forever. How grateful I am for this marvelous blessing.

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