John 13, Psalm 14
Gnosticism is a form of heretical Christianity with many faces and teachings, but defined by emphasizing special “”secret” knowledge supposedly given by God to elites. Some have accused John of writing an early Gnostic Gospel for a few reasons, including emphasis on Jesus going to secret places that cannot be found, or the introduction that utilized Greek philosophical categories (i.e. focusing on Jesus as the Word, in greek Logos). Some also emphasize Jesus’ coded and secretive language to argue this same point. The problem is, Jesus’ words, though often at times confusing, were never meant to conceal for an extended time. Consider these interesting words after Peter insisted upon being completely washed from head to toe after Jesus taught the importance of being washed to enjoy fellowship with Jesus. Jesus answers Peter’s desire for a complete rinse with, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” (John 13:9). Those words are transparently not true on one level. No one thinks simply by having their feet washed that their whole body is clean. Jesus confirms the disciples as belonging to Jesus through this servant-like demonstration, indicating who Jesus is (servant) and how they are to live (in service). Jesus’ last words, that though they have been all washed by this simple act, not all of them have been washed, points to Judas. Though the disciples didn’t immediately understand the meaning of Jesus’ words about Judas, they would recall it later and comprehend. Though Jesus might use veiled teaching in John, like he does with parables elsewhere, that doesn’t mean Jesus was keeping secrets or speaking in riddles. Rather, Jesus’ words invited Judas and the other eleven to think deeply about what was taking place in their midst, and the role they would each play in the Messiah’s work. No book could be plainer in the way of salvation than John has been in teaching: believe in Jesus and enjoy eternal life. No secrets, and no hierarchies can be justified from this great gospel.