Here’s what I meant yesterday.
At the end of chapter 12, John writes that some people didn’t believe Jesus, even though they had seen all the signs that John describes. Other people believed, but they were afraid of the religious leaders. They “loved praise from men more than praise from God.” Then Jesus has a summary statement. And then he goes out to dinner with the disciples.
I realized that’s a wonderful illustration of the parable of the sower. Jesus talks about four kinds of soil in that story. There is the hard-packed pathway where the seed simply sets on the surface, waiting for the birds. There is the rocky soul, deep enough for germination, too shallow for growth. There is the soil where thorns grow up and choke out the growing plants. According to Jesus,
The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. (Matthew 13:22)
And there is good soil, supporting incredible productivity.
See the connection that I saw? John is talking about hard soil and thorns.
But John doesn’t tell the parable. In fact, he doesn’t include any of the parables. Instead, he talks about Mary and Martha and Lazarus. He talks about Thomas. He lets us see some of the people closest to Jesus in ways Matthew, Mark, and Luke do not. He takes us inside the minds of those people, letting us know when things finally clicked. And he gives us large chunks of Jesus’ words spoken in smaller venues.
It is a Gospel with a different feeling than Mark (short, punchy, like Peter), Luke (comprehensive, clinical, like a doctor), and Matthew (parables, metaphors, Jewish). They each read differently.
Because we do.