Our current series covers important background to the Gospel of John. In a way, we’re “setting the table” for what comes next. My wife and I have a lot of company, which we enjoy, and getting the table ready is one task that I enjoy. When you look at this picture of a place setting, what’s missing? That’s right… there’s no spoon!
The last thing you want to do when there’s a tasty dessert in front of you is ask for a spoon to eat it with. So, in our current series, we are looking at historical and cultural details we might need in order to do a good exposition of John’s Gospel.
Our first sermon covered the history of the Intertestamental period. We discussed the rise and fall of Alexander the Great’s kingdom, a period of Jewish independence and then the rise of the Roman empire. The Romans destroyed the Jewish Temple in A. D. 70, and then John wrote his Gospel after that. How did that influence John’s writing? John is speaking into the cultural and religious vacuum created by the loss of the Temple. John ignores much of the political details during the time of Jesus’ life because he sets up a theme of conflict around kingship: who will be your king? The conflict peaks in chapter 19, verse 15 where the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate asks the Jewish leadership if he should crucify their king. They respond by saying, “we have no king but Caesar…”
Ironically, John writes these words after Caesar has ordered the destruction of the Temple. So, the question is a live one late in the first century, but also a live question for today. Who is your king?