Slow Down to Appreciate the Poetic Rhythm and Evocative Style of the Apostle John
I once quipped that the book of John was my fourth favorite biography of Jesus in the Bible. Another time I wrote about the Ten Most Difficult Books in the Bible. To the dismay of many, I included the Gospel of John in my list.
Given this, it may seem surprising that I’ve written a devotional Bible study about the book of John, called Living Water.
I embarked upon this effort because readers requested it, and the Holy Spirit confirmed that I was to do so. As I studied the Gospel of John more thoroughly so that I could write about it, God grew my appreciation for the apostle’s words.
I learned quite quickly that the key to embrace his evocative writing and poetic rhythm, was to slow down. Slowing down is sometimes hard for me.
Though I can read Matthew, Mark, and Luke at a normal pace and glean much from those words, that reading speed left me frustrated with John. What I needed to do to better appreciate his words was to read slower, to mull over one phrase before moving on to the next.
Though I always strive to meditate on Scripture as I study it, embracing John required that I be more intentional.
Once I slowed down, however, the profound beauty of John’s words became immediately apparent to me. Even though I’ve read John’s good news at least twenty times in my life, this last reading stands out as the best by far.
This is all because I took my time to really contemplate each word, each phrase, and each sentence to better comprehend its meaning.
When I did this, God’s Holy Spirit guided me in drafting my book, Living Water, about the Gospel of John. I’m most pleased with the results. It’s one of the most personally rewarding books I’ve written. I’m proud of those words, which I hope is a God-honoring pride.
Given what I’ve learned—that I needed to slow down to appreciate John’s writing style and profound content—it’s wise to go back and do the same thing with the other nine on my list of challenging books in the Bible. Indeed, I’ve already done this with Isaiah and am in the process of doing so with Revelation.
This is a good reminder of what Paul wrote to Timothy when he said that all Scripture comes from God and is useful to teach and train us (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Yes, every book of the Bible is beneficial, if we will but take the time to appreciate it.
Read more in Peter’s new book, Living Water: 40 Reflections on Jesus’s Life and Love from the Gospel of John, available everywhere in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.