bible blog 995


Today’s blog uses the Episcopal daily reading along with a headline from world news:

Planck Satellite maps of universe confirm Big Bang theory

distribution of "ancient light" in universe

distribution of “ancient light” in universe

John 10:19-42

19 Again the Jews were divided because of these words.20Many of them were saying, ‘He has a demon and is out of his mind. Why listen to him?’21Others were saying, ‘These are not the words of one who has a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?’

Jesus Is Rejected by the Jews

22 At that time the festival of the Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter,23and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon.24So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, ‘How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah,* tell us plainly.’25Jesus answered, ‘I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me;26but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep.27My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me.28I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand.29What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand.*30The Father and I are one.’

the human face of God

the human face of God

31 The Jews took up stones again to stone him.32Jesus replied, ‘I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these are you going to stone me?’33The Jews answered, ‘It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you, but for blasphemy, because you, though only a human being, are making yourself God.’34Jesus answered, ‘Is it not written in your law,* “I said, you are gods”?35If those to whom the word of God came were called “gods”—and the scripture cannot be annulled—36can you say that the one whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world is blaspheming because I said, “I am God’s Son”?37If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me.38But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand* that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.’39Then they tried to arrest him again, but he escaped from their hands.

40 He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing earlier, and he remained there.41Many came to him, and they were saying, ‘John performed no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true.’42And many believed in him there.

the human face of God

the human face of God

We should remind ourselves that John is presenting the story of Jesus as the story of the mysterious and eternal LOGOS (WORD, RATIONALITY, COMMUNICATION) of God. He is not reporting what Jesus actually said, but “what Jesus was saying in all his words, actions and sufferings.” At all times his writing strives to express the “meaning for faith” of Jesus’ life.

This passage sets out baldly the fundamental doubleness of Jesus, as John and his community see him: he is at the one time a man subject to the laws of the universe, and the presence of the one who created the universe. The “father’s” presence is seen in the things Jesus does, that is, in his gift of life to the sick, the disabled and even the dead; and his giving away of his own life on the cross.  These are the works of God by which Jesus is to be judged.

In the words John gives Jesus, he argues that calling someone God’s son is not blasphemous from the perspective of Jewish faith. Certainly the concept of God’s son is not foreign to that tradition, especially in the idea that the King is “begotten” by God to rule God’s people. That idea however, rests on a cult of kingship and is some distance from identifying a man, in his decisions, actions, words and fate, as God’s son. That’s exactly what John’s gospel does however, adding that those who trust in Jesus are also born of God as God’s children. The claim that the eternal God wants to share the humanity of his creatures so that they may share his divinity is something so entirely new in the history of religion that we could call it the big bang out of which a new universe of thought and belief is still emerging. It subverts all conventional notions of deity, while transcending our definitions of humanity.

Exploring the meaning of this theology is an enterprise for a thousand lifetimes rather than a thousand blogs.

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