THE TIMING AND PLACEMENT OF EVENTS
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN
I. For the first year, the Gospel records events during an unidentified week during which the events begin near the Jordan River and end in Galilee. The narrative resumes at the Passover during early to mid spring and then skips to what appears to be Pentecost, which would be in the late spring. The events proceed from the Jordan to Galilee to Jerusalem, and then back again over the same sites.
A. During the first
half of the opening week, John the Baptist introduces Jesus and shows
the first disciples to Him. As the week proceeds, Jesus calls
and receives these and other disciples. The first week ends with
the miracle at the wedding in Cana. These events are described
from chapter 1, verse 19 to chapter 2, verse 12. The structure
of these events along the lines of a single week is almost certainly
symbolic, for the distances would be too much for them all to occur
in one week.
B. At a Passover
in Jerusalem, Jesus cleanses the Temple and speaks in private
to Nicodemus about being reborn of water and the Spirit. Then
Jesus goes to the Jordan, where His disciples begin baptizing.
Here and after a dispute about washings, John gives witness to Jesus.
These events are described in chapter 2, verse 13 through chapter 4,
verse 3. The Synoptic Gospels (i.e., Matthew, Mark and Luke) all
place the cleansing of the Temple during Holy Week, right after the
entrance into Jerusalem. John may have placed it here to set up
right from the start the themes of Jesus purifying and fulfilling the
Jewish feasts and worship and the conflict over Him in Jerusalem.
C. Jesus then travels
through Samaria to get to Galilee. On the way, He meets the Samaritan
woman at the well and the proclamation of the Gospel in non-Jewish lands
begins. In Cana of Galilee, He cures the centurion's son, who
may have been an adopted servant. These events are described in
the rest of chapter 4.
D. Jesus then returned
to Jerusalem for an unidentified feast, which was probably Pentecost,
a celebration that takes place in late spring. Here He cures the
paralyzed man on the Sabbath and gives a discourse on His authority
and the works of God. These events are described in chapter 5.
II. The events described for the next year goes from Galilee to Jerusalem and then resume again in Jerusalem, followed by a final return to the Jordan.
A. On the next Passover,
Jesus is back up in Galilee, where He feeds the multitude with the loaves
and fishes, walks on water and gives the bread of life discourse.
These events are described in chapter 6.
B. Jesus then goes
back to Jerusalem for the feast of Tabernacles (or Booths), which would
have been in the early autumn. He comes to Jerusalem in secret
during the feast because the plot against Him is building. Here
He speaks of Himself as showing the glory of God as conflicting opinions
of Him are rising. These events are recorded in chapter
C. Right after the
feast and while still in Jerusalem, He forgives the adulterous woman,
and speaks of Himself as the light of the world and of the freedom and
adopted sonship that He offers. He then cures the man born blind
and describes Himself as the Good Shepherd. These events are described
in chapters 8 and 9 and chapter 10, verses 1 to 21.
D. At the feast of
the Dedication of the Temple (or Hanukkah), which would occur in December,
He describes Himself again as the Good Shepherd and how He does the
work of the Father. He then goes back to the Jordan River, where
He remains apparently until His final approach to Jerusalem. Here,
more and more people recognize in Him the one of whom John the Baptist
spoke. This event is described in chapter 10, verses 22 to 42.
III. The events described for the final year goes from Bethany (between the Jordan and Jerusalem) to Jerusalem and then back to Galilee. The final week before the Crucifixion leads up to the Passover in Jerusalem, where Jesus dies on the Cross. Then the risen Jesus appears again in Jerusalem during eight days after the Resurrection. Finally, the scene moves back up to Galilee for another Resurrection appearance and commissioning.
A. They begin sometime
before the Passover in Bethany where Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead
and the priests and Pharisees begin their final plot for the death of
Jesus. These events are described in chapter 11.
B. Six days before
the Passover (i.e., Saturday night or Sunday morning or afternoon)
Mary, a sister of Lazarus, anoints Jesus in preparation for His death
and burial. This event is described in chapter 12, verses 1 to
11. The Synoptic Gospels place this event right before the Last
Supper. However, they may place it there, not because it occurred
at this time, but rather because it is so connected to the passion and
death of Christ, which the Last Supper will also anticipate.
C. On the following
day (i.e., Monday), Jesus enters Jerusalem. Sometime during that
week, He sends messages to the Greeks in Jerusalem about His upcoming
death. He speaks again about the light and salvation He brings
and about the darkness and judgement that those who reject Him are choosing.
These events are described in chapter 12, verses12 to 50.
D. Then, on the day
before the Passover (i.e., Thursday night to Friday afternoon), He celebrates
the Last Supper, which is described in chapters 13 to 17. He is
arrested in the dead of night, summarily tried during the night and
early morning, and sent to be crucified at about noon. He dies
at about three o'clock and is buried just before sunset, as the Passover
Day is about to begin. These events are described in chapters
18 and 19. The Synoptic Gospels record this day as the Passover
Day itself, possibly because Jesus moved it a day earlier, in accordance
with a rabbinic custom of moving the Passover if it would otherwise
fall on a Sabbath day.
E. On the "first day of the week," Sunday, the risen Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene outside of the tomb and than to all of the Apostles except Thomas in Jerusalem. On the next Sunday, He appears to all the Apostles again in Jerusalem. Sometime later He again appears to seven of His disciples in Galilee. These events are described in chapters 20 and 21.