John 21 and the Reversal of the First Sins
This is what the near last few verses in John’s Gospel says:
Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”
Now this is a bit of a strange scene on which to close the gospel. Why this strange back and forth discussion about John?
As we saw in the last video, John is showing that Jesus is remaking the world in his Gospel. In the beginning of this chapter he brings the seven disciples symbolic of the new humanity through the baptismal waters to the new land into the new garden. The fire that was on the sword of the cherubim guarding the entrance to the garden in Genesis 3 has now become an instrument of feasting, cooking the fish for consumption.
Continuing with this new creational theme John will show us that Jesus will reverse the first two sins in Genesis. This new creation will be unlike the old creation.
The first sin related to pre-emptive eating and the second to brother-brother conflict. So let’s look at how this works.
After they enter onto the land, the main action that takes place is eating. But this time there are no restrictions unlike the garden. They feast with the God-man. This is sanctified feasting. That’s the reversal of the first sin.
The reversal of the second scene comes in the last scene where the disciples are walking on a path. In this last strange scene you have a hint of a conflict between Peter and a favored disciple, just like Abel’s sacrifice was favored by God and not Cain’s.
Peter asks Jesus about John’s inclusion in the group of disciples, sort of suspicious of him. And Jesus instructs Peter to not worry about that disciple and to focus on following Jesus himself. Precisely, what Cain needed to do, not worrying about Abel’s relationship to God but focus on following God himself.
In the original Cain and Abel story there is a word about brothers, Abel’s blood crying from the ground. And John tells us that a word went out among the brothers here in our text. But this time it didn’t have to do with death, but with life, Jesus talking about John’s remaining. That is, the life of John dependant upon Jesus.
So unlike Cain and Abel the word that goes out is not about the death of a brother but the life of a brother.
So Jesus not only brings humanity into his new creation, but reverses those primal stains and infractions, healing them so that the new world would be filled with light and life.