By Paul Gilbert
It was an afternoon ritual that I observed ad nauseam during my turbulent middle school years: Come home from school; pick up snack; sit in front of TV; watch reruns of the Beverly Hillbillies. Repeat. I can still sing the whole theme song by heart, but I will only torment you with the first line here – “Come and listen to my story about a man named Jed, a poor mountaineer barely kept his family fed . . .” If you are at all familiar with this 60’s sitcom, you know that Jed is the patriarch of the Clampett family in this comedic mashup of Appalachia meets Sunset Boulevard.
To understand the show, though, you have to understand Jed as he is described in the opening theme song: where he used to live, who the members of his family are, how he got rich, and why he moved to Beverly Hills in the first place. Without that knowledge, it’s kind of hard to get up to speed on the flow of the show and to figure out what’s going on (actually, even WITH that knowledge, the show is pretty bizarre, but I digress).
This same principle is at work when it comes to studying books of the Bible. Without some sense of when the book was written, for what reason, and under what circumstances, we may not have the knowledge we need to best understand the book we are studying. This is why we took some time this past Sunday to unpack the “theme song” for our new sermon series on the Gospel of John.
We introduced the Fourth Gospel by looking at the life and background of a 'Man Named John." John is of course one of the original apostles and is writing under the name of, "The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved.” It is some 60 years after Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, and John is writing “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” We look at what prompted John to write his gospel, to whom it was originally written, and why it was written in the first place. Then, we prayerfully considered how God might use this study in our own lives in the coming weeks and months.
If you weren’t with us, please take some time to watch/listen to this past Sunday’s sermon. I think you will walk away intrigued about “A Man Named John” and excited about what God wants to do in your life this season.