St. John constructed his Gospel the way Beethoven or Schubert wrote symphonies. He had two themes that he repeated and combined through three movements. The first theme presents Jesus as the Savior and Son of God; the second shows how we have life by believing in him.
The three movements echoed Exodus when: the Father brought the people out of slavery; he supported them through a life span; then, he brought them into the Promised Land.
In his Gospel John dramatized the way the Son does the same things for his people. To echo the departure from Egypt John substituted the story of Jesus cleansing the temple. In place of God’s supporting the Israelites in the desert, John presented Jesus as the bread from heaven, as the water from the rock, and as the light we follow through the darkness. To dramatize the Son leading his people into the Promised Land John dramatized death on the cross as the completion of Our Lord’s Passover. (Differing from Matthew, Mark and Luke, St. John presented the passing of Jesus from this world on the very day of the Passover.)
Both exodus stories, the one in the Pentateuch and the one in John’s version, fit the pattern for classical dramas. Each has a clear beginning, middle, and end. John cleverly supplied us with road markers telling us what stage of the story we had reached. His road markers are the simple phrase, “The Passover of the Jews was near.” John posted it first in his Chapter Two when Jesus cleansed the temple. He posted it again at the beginning of his Chapter Six when Jesus was about to present himself as Bread from heaven. In today’s Gospel we see him posting this marker at the beginning of the week when he would pass from this world. In verse 11:55 we read, “The Passover of the Jews was near.”