One of the books on my current reading list is Love in the Gospel of John by Francis J. Moloney. I’ve never read Moloney before so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’m only about 60 pages into it but I am enjoying it quite a bit. Here’s a sample which I hope you’ll enjoy as much as I did.
“Across the early stages of Jesus’ public ministry, the narrative itself raises a question in the readers’ minds with its account of the first disciples’ early interactions with Jesus. These disciples’ understanding of the person of Jesus, despite their enthusiastic attraction to him (see 1:35-51), does not match the understanding of the reader, provided by the prologue (1:1-18) and the witness of John the Baptist (1:19-36). Jesus is from God (1:1-2, 14), is ‘turned toward God’ (1:1, 18), is telling the story of God (1:18), is ‘the Lamb of God’ (1:29, 36), is ‘the Son of God’ (1:34). But the disciples express their understanding of him in terms that express their Jewish hopes: ‘Rabbi’ (1:38), ‘the Messiah’ (v. 41), ‘him of who Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote’ (v. 45), ‘Rabbi . . . Son of God . . . King of Israel’ (v. 49). Jesus responds to them with promise with a promise that they will see ‘greater things’ in the ascent and descent of angels upon the Son of Man (1:50-51). He requires something more of them.
The Cana to Cana section, then, opens with a question hanging over the narrative: if the faith of the first disciples was a good beginning but ultimately insufficient, what more does Jesus require of them so that they may see the ‘greater things’ he has promised them? The catechesis on authentic Johannine faith, provided by 2:1-4:54, answers that question. Eight encounters between Jesus and other characters teach the reader that authentic faith requires unconditional acceptance of the words of Jesus who is himself the Word (1:1, 14). Anything short of that is insufficient. Jesus makes this clear in his dialogues with his mother (authentic faith), ‘the Jews’ (no faith), Nicodemus (partial faith), John the Baptist (authentic faith), the Samaritan woman (no faith), the Samaritan woman again (partial faith), the Samaritan villagers (authentic faith), and the royal official (authentic faith).” (40-41)