Gospel of John

Art Work

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Wedding at Cana
This painting by Giotto depicts the miracle Jesus performs at the Wedding at Cana (John 2:1-11). Jesus and his mother are attending a wedding where the wine runs out. Jesus orders the servants to fill six stone jars with water and then to find the chief steward. When the chief steward tastes the water, he is astonished to find it was wine of the finest quality. This is the first of Jesus' "signs" performed in the Gospel of John. This painting makes use of John's passage by depicting the crowd at the wedding gathered around a table, while the steward drinks the wine. He obviously relishes the delicious taste of the wine and is a connoisseur of sorts, evident by his large protruding stomach.

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Healing of the Man Born Blind

This story comes from the Gospel of John 9:1-41, where Jesus comes across a man who has been born without sight. When his disciples question whether the man himself or his parents are to blame for his condition, Jesus responds, "Neither, he was born blind so that God's works may be revealed to him" (9:3). El Greco makes use of John's narrative by portraying Jesus in the act of performing the miracle, the critical moment when Jesus applies mud to the man's eye. It is not obvious in this depiction, however, that Jesus has used spit to cure the man's blindness; only that he has touched him.

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Raising of Lazarus

This painting takes its influence from John 11:1-44. The specific scene Gozzoli is depicting comes from verse 44, where Jesus commands Lazarus to "come out." This occasion occurs shortly after Jesus tells Lazarus' sister Martha that "I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die" (11:25-27). This miracle shows explicit evidence to Martha and Mary (and other people present at the scene) that Jesus truly is the Messiah, the Son of God. Lazarus had been dead for four days and Jesus brought him back to life. Benozzo makes use of this miracle by showing Lazarus emerging from the cave, bound up in strips of cloth. The two sisters kneel before Jesus in reverence and awe.

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Washing of the Disciples Feet

In the Gospel of John, there is no explicit eating and drinking at the Last Supper. Instead, John makes a significant addition with a narrative about Jesus washing the disciples feet (13:1-20). It is similar to the Last Supper of the Synoptic Gospels in the sense that the occasion takes place on the eve of Jesus' death and also that Jesus becomes aware that Judas Iscariot will be his betrayer. Jesus washes each of the disciples' feet. When Simon Peter hesitates Jesus urges him that it is vital to his faith: "Unless I wash you, you have no share with me" (13:8). Afterwards, Peter begs Jesus to wash his head and hands as well. Jesus however tell him this is not necessary, for the rest of him is clean. Duccio here re-enacts the moment when Jesus begins to cleanse Peter's foot and Peter expresses his anxiety over the bathing. Peter points to his head, obviously a reference to Peter's desire to have his head bathed once he realizes the importance. The others crowd around taking off their sandals and touching their beards in deep contemplation. Notice that one of the disciples' has his face turned away from the viewer. Could this be an allusion to Judas Iscariot, perhaps?

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Raphael makes use of John's new details on the crucifixion of Jesus. A significant addition is the wound pierced in Jesus' side (19:31-37). Raphael depicts two angels holding cups to catch Jesus' spilled blood. Another significant element of this painting is that Jesus' legs are in a natural position, evidence that they have not been broken. In addition to the piercing of the side is the presence of the Virgin Mary and "the disciple whom he loved." They kneel in close proximity to the crucified Jesus while Mary Magdalene and Mary of Clopas mourn in the background. Perhaps Raphael speculates that the Marys and the Beloved Disciple stay with Jesus after the piercing of his side, although John's Gospel does not specifically say this.

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