Caneday, Ardel. "The Word Made Flesh as Mystery Incarnate: Revealing and Concealing Dramatized by Jesus as Portrayed in John's Gospel." Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 60/4 (2017), 751-65.
Caneday follows up on an essay in which D.A. Carson details "sixteen occasions when Jesus's disciples failed to understand about him prior to the cross and resurrection and their coming to understand after his resurrection" (Caneday 2017, 751-752). Carson's contention was that the misunderstandings are an important feature of John's Gospel and that they point to a development in the way Christians would read Scripture after the resurrection (Caneday 2017, 753). Caneday sees this as evidence that John, without using the term "mystery" is treating the theme of mystery in a sophisticated way by showing the change in understanding Scripture before and after the resurrection (Caneday 2017, 753).
Caneday goes on to consider Jesus' sign at the wedding at Cana of Galilee. Of great interest here is the statement of Jesus that his time has not come. Caneday observes that such a statement in John routinely refers to Jesus' death (Caneday 2017, 754). While at the time the disciples would not have recognized the significance of the parabolic aciton, the discioples would eventually have understood the symbolism at work. At the time, they believed on Jesus because it showed his glory. Yet Caneday, along with others, would take the "sign" to refer to some deeper meaning which may not have been apparent. This is also the case in chapters 5, 6, 9, and 11 (Caneday 2017, 755). Here there are themes of purification as well as a strong reference to a bridebroom. This would suggest the themes which would be understood later by disciples but may have gone unobserved at the time of the events (Caneday 2017, 757).
Jesus' cleansing of the temple was another instance of an act bearing hidden meaning. In 2:18 the temple authorities don't even recognize that Jesus has done a sign (Caneday 2017, 758). Jesus' additional offering for the destruction of the temple of his body eludes the priests as well as his disciples. They did not understand until after the resurrection, according to 2:22 (Caneday 2017, 759).
Caneday moves on to consider the specific interaction of Jesus and Nicodemus as an example of a dialog in which Jesus presents an analogy of a heavenly reality (Caneday 2017, 759). Caneday takes Nicodemus' curiosity to be of an official nature, as a representative of the Sanhedrin seeking greater understanding. Nicodemus does not understand the extent of Jesus' claims. Jesus, referring to Nicodemus as "a teacher of Israel," shows him that he is failing to see the presence of God (Caneday 2017, 760). In short, Jesus is God, in Nicodemus' presence. Caneday notes that the same revelation is present in Jesus' interaction with the Samaritan woman in chapter four (Caneday 2017, 761). Jesus' signs and statements thus serve at least a dual purpose. They reveal God's glory and grace, and they point to a greater, heavenly reality. The greater reality is regularly misunderstood or ignored (Caneday 2017, 762).
Caneday finally finds Jesus' revelation of heavenly things in his conflicts with the Jewish opponents. Especially in acts of bringing sight to the blind, John shows Jesus as delivering spiritual sight to those who believe him, but leaving his opponents in their blindness (Caneday 2017, 762-763). In numerous instances John has Jesus speaking on multiple levels, but his listeners recognizing only one level, the earthly one.
Caneday concludes that, while the contemporary audience of Jesus was largely unable to perceive that Jesus was speaking on multiple levels, the early Christians who used texts such as John's Gospel were able. The mystery of the Gospel is present, and even central in John, though it is veiled. At some point, it became clear to the Christian community (Caneday 2017, 765).