The Gospel of Saint John is different from those of Matthew, Mark and Luke, which all begin with the man Jesus, who by his mighty deeds and compelling words led his disciples to discern his divinity. But John begins his narrative with Jesus as the eternal Word, who “was with God, and was God.” And then John proceeds to the natural order, for “through him all things were made, and without him was made nothing that was made.”
The difference between them can be seen in how they use metaphors and parables. Matthew, for instance, reports the words of Jesus: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast that a woman put in three measures of flour,” and so on. The point is that if you can imagine the yeast working silently and gradually in the dough, you have some idea of God’s action in the world. John is different. His emphasis is on the person of Jesus: “I am the vine . . .”; I am the good shepherd . . .”; I am the gate into the sheepfold” Saint John is saying that we cannot know what a vine is or a shepherd or a gate unless we know Jesus who, as creator, is their ultimate origin. It is not that the Kingdom of God is like a gate, but that a gate is like Jesus. He provides us with the ultimate instance of entering, and whenever we enter a gate or door we should remember that it is a mere shadow of our longed for entry into heaven—through the pearly gates mentioned in the Apocalypse. One might think of a beautiful jewel with many facets, tossed into the air. As it spins, each fact reflects a beam of light, ultimately revealing its full splendour. Jesus is that jewel, and in the reflections from that true light that has come into the world, all reality is wonderfully made visible for what it provides: a glimpse into the reality of the triune God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit.