Our epic tour around the globe (and through the Gospel of John) now brings us to St. Peter’s Basilica. This architectural colossus is the world’s largest church; with a capacity of 60,000, it dominates the physical landscape of Vatican City and the spiritual landscape of the West. St. Peter’s has been called “the greatest of all churches of Christendom.” It’s impossible to behold without an overwhelming sense of awe.
John 8 finds us in the courts of Jerusalem’s vibrant temple complex during a holiday. Religious fervor is high, and so is the unfolding drama between Jesus and the Jewish rulers. Let’s sneak in the back and grab a seat to see what will happen.
Who’s ready to party? The next stop on our global tour is the “biggest show on earth,” Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival! Prepare yourself for crazy costumes, amazing floats, and revelry like you can’t even imagine. And the best part is the massive person of Jesus with His arms outstretched over the entire scene. If you’re in the mood to celebrate, get off the bus; we’re here!
John 7 is set in Jerusalem at the Feast of Booths, the most popular Jewish holiday all year, and the jubilation is so thick you can almost taste it. At the height of the festivities, Jesus seizes His moment and causes quite a stir. Family drama, an old friend, political intrigue, bamboozled bouncers—this chapter has it all.
If you’ve ever been on a great vacation, you probably know that touring tends to awaken the appetite. Luckily, we’re approaching the one place you’ll never go hungry: Paris. John 6 is very much like the City of Light in its abundance of food. The chapter is sandwiched (ha) with bread, beginning with the feeding of the five thousand and ending with Jesus’ discourse on being the bread of life. (An amazing, but not necessarily food-related, miracle story is tucked in the middle.)
The Supreme Court of the United States is an imposing structure. It commands a certain amount of awe, not just because of its incredible detail, but also due to its weighty history and purpose. The fifth chapter of John’s gospel feels very much like a courtroom; while the Jewish leaders begin by putting Jesus on trial for breaking their rules, they themselves end up in the hot seat as He calls forth witnesses to remind them of His role in inspiring God’s law and executing divine judgment.
As a reminder, we’re taking a world tour through the book of John, noting the highlights of each chapter. If you’d like to join me at this point or start from the beginning and work at your own pace, I’d love your company! For now, though, let’s unload from the bus and take a peek at one of the most intriguing legal scenes in all of redemptive history.
Spend enough time on an Australian walkabout, and you might stumble upon Lake Hillier, a shockingly bubblegum-pink body of water. The fourth chapter of John felt a bit like this to me—we’re traveling along, admiring the dirt-colored scenery, and then BAM! Pink! (I never knew how intently Jesus waited at that well in Samaria for the woman or for me, but it’s been a beautiful revelation.) Let’s pause on this tour through the gospel, slip off our sandals, and dip our toes into the water as we encounter the truer and better Source who will never leave us thirsty.