I have a love-hate relationship with the Gospel of John.
the loooooong speeches where Jesus seems rather preoccupied with himself
the way the stark language gets used by the far right
the looooong pericopes coming up this Lent ( 49 verses? what WAS the committee thinking?)
sentences which loop in on themselves and make your eyes cross
the use (yes, I understand the history, but still. . . ) of "the Jews," which can make one forget Jesus WAS one
But, oh, there are some things to love:
The intimacy of so many encounters: Nicodemus, the woman at the well, with Mary at the tomb
Jesus direct, deep-as-a-well questions: "what are you looking for?"
Jesus' confident, loving description of his relationship with the Father. . . who wouldn't want that kind of spiritual connection?
The first chapter 'nuff said.
Image after image: bread, shepherd, water, vine, word
But perhaps the thing that has finally made me come around to John is the fact that John IS a love story. That's the only way to understand it. All the stuff that drives you crazy -- the extreme language, the long speeches, the occasional carelessness with which it treats anyone who opposes Jesus, is best explained as the language of a lover, or maybe a small child declaring love for a parent, or vice versa. It's like a child declaring "You are the best Mommy in the whole world!" Is that TRUE? Well, of course it is -- in context.
People who try to treat John as an act of journalism miss the mark. These were lovers of Jesus sharing their love with others who knew exactly what they were talking about. Those who did not "know" him couldn't possibly understand. In fact, they might be offended.
Perhaps more than any other Gospel, this is the church's book -- a book about Christ by those who love him, for those who also love him -- or at least WANT to. Don't overanalyze. Just feel the love.