Sometimes people read through the Bible by starting at Genesis and lose interest. The purpose of the Scriptures is to convey Christ to us. As Luther said, the Bible holds Jesus the way a cradle holds a baby.
Therefore, the entire Bible is one, unified truth, the Book of the Holy Spirit. The culmination of the Gospel message can be found in the Gospel of John, which unifies Matthew, Mark, and Luke by providing the sermons of Jesus and additional material not found in the Synoptic Gospels.
The Gospel of John assumes knowledge of the first three Gospels. As great as they are in their own way, the Fourth Gospel is even better.
John has the simplest Greek, the simplest language. The best way to learn Greek, Latin, French, or Spanish is to read John in that language, translating the known (and often repeated words) and guessing the rest. Grammatical knowledge is derived from use, so most of those mothball-smelling terms can be abandoned. (I never say to myself when writing, "It's time for a conditional clause, and why not add a contrary to fact statement.")
John was not only close to Jesus. His Gospel reveals a closeness to Judaism (references to the Exodus and the Burning Bush) and to the events. The narrative betrays an eye-witness who modestly called himself, "the disciple Jesus loved." I noticed that just as much in Latin as in Greek. Outside the empty tomb, when Jesus says "Mary" and she responds "Master!" at the sound of his voice, I get goosebumps.
Because John integrates the first three Gospels, the content of the Fourth Gospel should be studied with special attention. The traditional symbol of John is the eagle, because that Gospel soars above the rest. That is even expressed in the repetition of terms. A phrase like "bread of life" is used repeatedly, with more meaning added each time.
John is also poetic, easy to memorize. The words are simple but the message is profound, with many passages worth a day's meditation.
John's timeline is the most accurate. He alone shows a three-year ministry for Jesus. I am not saying the first three Gospels are in error. They are preaching pericopes. The Biblical authors were not journalists--thank heavens--so the Holy Spirit did not have them write biographies.
John's geography is quite accurate.
The earliest fragment of a Gospel is from John, showing the Gospel was written and in circulation rather early. I am not convinced that a scrap can be dated, but those who think so believe the Rylands Fragment is the earliest. I always look for the copyright.
Most importantly, John's Gospel features:
- The "I AM" sermons, which reflect the I AM of the Burning Bush, the Angel of the Lord (pre-incarnation Son of God).
- The Little Gospel, John 3:16.
- Water turned into wine.
- Jesus and the woman at the well.
- The Bread of Life.
- The Keystone Kops chapter of the Bible. This is the funniest chapter of the entire Bible, John 9, where the Pharisees are portrayed as bumbling Keystone Kops from the silent films.
- The Good Shepherd in John 10.