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Gospels of Luke & John - the New Testament

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Paper #1: Gospels of Luke & John

The New Testament is the second part of the Christian Bible and narrates the life and teachings of Jesus and the beginnings of Christianity. Most of the information that exists on Jesus’ life, teachings, death, and resurrection come from four different narratives from four different followers of Jesus. These narratives are called gospels, which means good news. The gospels are named after their supposed authors; Luke, John, Mark, and Matthew; even though they are anonymous works. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke are classified as the Synoptic Gospels because they contain similar accounts of Jesus’s life and teachings, while the Gospel of John is structured differently and includes events in Jesus’s life not discussed in the other narratives. In this paper, I will compare and contrast John’s and Luke’s narration of Jesus healing a blind man to highlight the overall differences and similarities between the two Gospels.

In chapter nine of the Gospel of John, the author tells the story of Jesus healing a blind man. His disciples thought that the man was blind because he or his parents had sinned. However, Jesus refutes this notion and asserts that the man was blind “so that the works of God might be displayed in him” (John 9:3). He then spits on mud to make clay and applied the clay to the blind man’s eyes. The man then followed Jesus’s instructions and washed his eyes in the pool of Siloam. After doing so, the man was able to see. The uproar created by the healing of the blind man instigated great controversy that led to the blind man being interrogated by the Pharisees. Jesus had healed the blind man on Sabbath so the Pharisees reasoned that “this man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath” (John 9:16). However, after discrediting the blind man and not believing his story, they “put him out” because he believed in Jesus. The author of the Gospel of John ends this narration with Jesus affirming his deity and claiming, “for judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see” (John 9:39). The author of the Gospel of Luke has a different take on the event of Jesus healing a blind man. In the Gospel of Luke, a blind beggar near Jericho starts screaming, asking Jesus for mercy. Once Jesus reaches the man, the beggar states “Lord, I want to regain my sight!” (Luke 18:41). To which Jesus responded, “receive your sight; your faith has made you well” (Luke 18: 42). Then, the blind man regained his sight and began following Jesus, along with all the other people who witnessed the healing.

This passage and its differences in both Gospels, represents many of the differences between the Synoptic Gospels and the Gospel of John. One such example is the involvement of with the poor and suffering in both Gospels. While Jesus’ dedication to the poor and needy is central to the Gospel of Luke, it is rarely mentioned in the Gospel of John. This is evident in the passage about the healing of the blind man. In the Gospel of Luke, the blind man was sitting by the road near Jericho begging. Once he began to call out for help from Jesus, people around him started to shun his behavior and told him to be quiet. This caused Jesus to command that the beggar be brought to him. However, in the Gospel of John, it is just briefly mentioned that people saw him as a beggar before his sight was healed. This makes sense when one considers that the Gospel of Luke is considered the most socially progressive of the Gospels and probably the favorite among liberal Christians. The author of the Gospel of Luke wanted to make a point that the needy and destitute are important to Jesus. For this reason, the author portrays the blind beggar as a perseverant and brave man that did not let himself be quieted by those around him. The author of the Gospel of John is not concerned with these kinds of details. His main message is to simply proclaim that Jesus is divine and the son of God.

Another difference in the Gospels that is noticeable in the passage of Jesus healing a blind man is how Jesus references himself. In the Gospel of Luke, it is rare for Jesus to reference himself. On the other hand, Jesus referencing himself is one of the main themes of the Gospel of John. Specifically, the Gospel of John is renowned for the amount of times that Jesus says “I am …”. This is on display in the passage of Jesus healing the blind when Jesus tells his followers “while I am in the world, I am the Light of the world” (John 9:5). In addition, after the blind man is put out by the Pharisees, Jesus references himself as the Son of Man (John 9:35). In the same narration in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus does not reference himself once. This difference might be due to the purpose with which the Gospels were written. It seems that the author of the Gospel of John was trying to emphasize the holy and divine nature of Jesus in order to prove that Jesus is truly the sign of God. This is why so many “I am” statements from Jesus are so central to the Gospel. In addition, one of the subtitles of Chapter 9 in the Gospel of John is “Jesus Affirms His Deity.” Clearly, it was very important to the author of the Gospel of John to emphasize Jesus’s divinity in order to prove that Jesus was in fact Christ and the son of God. On the other hand, the author of the Gospel of Luke was more concerned with highlighting the human aspect of Jesus. For this reason, many verses in the Gospel of Luke highlight Jesus’s human traits and the fact that he was able to feel human emotions. Therefore, the purpose/goal of the Gospels affects and explains why certain events are described and reported differently in the Gospels.

A major difference between the Gospel of John and the Gospel of Luke is the writing style of the authors and how they deliver Jesus’s teachings. The Gospel of John is renowned for its use of extended dialogues and/or discourses. On the other hand, the author of the Gospel of Luke, along with the authors of the other Synoptic Gospels, presents Jesus’s teaching in short sayings and parables. This difference between the Gospels can be clearly observed in John 9 and Luke 18:35-43. Firstly, the author of the Gospel of Luke narrates the whole event of Jesus healing a blind man in nine short verses. Au contraire, it takes the author of John 41 verses to recount the same the story/event. The difference is largely due to the fact that the author of the Gospel of John talked about the blind man being questioned by the Pharisees. However, even the shared parts of the stories are narrated in a different way. For example, as was mentioned above, the Gospel of John has much more dialogue. After the blind man gains sight, the narrator tells of a dialogue between the other members of the community: “Therefore the neighbors, and those

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