This blog offers a meditation on the Common Lectionary daily readings along with a headline from world news
SURVIVOR OF THE SHATILA MASSACRE SAYS GOD WILL PUNISH SHARON
Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
1 In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
2 He was with God in the beginning.
3 All things came to be through him,
and without him nothing made had being.
4 In him was life,
and the life was the light of mankind.
5 The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not suppressed it.
6 There was a man sent from God whose name was Yochanan. 7 He came to be a testimony, to bear witness concerning the light; so that through him, everyone might put his trust in God and be faithful to him. 8 He himself was not that light; no, he came to bear witness concerning the light.
9 This was the true light,
which gives light to everyone entering the world.
10 He was in the world — the world came to be through him —
yet the world did not know him.
11 He came to his own homeland,
yet his own people did not receive him.
12 But to as many as did receive him, to those who put their trust in his person and power, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 not because of bloodline, physical impulse or human intention, but because of God.
14 The Word became a human being and lived with us,
and we saw his glory,
the glory of the Father’s only Son,
full of grace and truth.
15 Yochanan witnessed concerning him when he cried out, “This is the man I was talking about when I said, ‘The one coming after me has come to rank ahead of me, because he existed before me.’”
16 We have all received from his fullness,
yes, grace upon grace.
17 For the Torah was given through Moshe;
grace and truth came through Yeshua the Messiah.
18 No one has ever seen God; but the only and unique Son, who is identical with God and is at the Father’s side — he has made him known.
I’ve used the Complete Jewish Bible translation both for its effectiveness and its insistence on Jewish names and terms. In fact I’ve changed one of these in verse 14 where the CJB uses the technical Hebrew term sh’kinah instead of glory. The sh’kinah was the word used to describe the “appearance of God to humanity”. God was supposed to adapt his unbearable presence to the capacity of human beings who were granted a mere reflection of the divine being, as in Ezekiel chapter 1 where a complex vision of God’s presence ends with the words, “that was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of God.” In Jesus, a man of flesh and blood, says John, people saw God’s sh’kinah, his glory. John characterises the uniqueness of Jesus in the terms “Word”, “Son” “only and unique”,” identical with God”; while also clearly distinguishing him from the Father by the same terms, and by the words, “became flesh”. Although John uses some words from the Greek philosophical tradition here, he is actually dispensing with the usual philosophical distinctions between God and the cosmos. God remains utterly distinct not because of the incompatibility of his mode of being with any other being, but because of his grace, that is, his loving-kindness. God’s very being is revealed as open to humanity to whom he gives the right to become God’s children, and this is revealed through his human son, Jesus Messiah. The creative love, the “grace upon grace” shown in Jesus, is the source of all life, the Father. God is truth, (Greek: aletheia) literally un-concealment. There is no “God” behind the God who has been revealed. The reader is meant to note how specific this revelation is. Doubtless John thought that something of God could be seen in all the things made through his Word; and in every witness (especially in the Jewish tradition) to the eternal light; but in these visions God remains concealed. Only in Jesus (and in the witness to Jesus) is God completely unconcealed in his naked grace.
This establishes for all people and all time the character of God and helps those who trust in God to detect his real presence more accurately. As the first letter of John states, “God is love; and they who dwell in love, dwell in God,” but this understanding is grounded in Jesus Messiah, “In this is love, not that we loved God but that God loved loved us and sent his Son to offer himself as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” It is the specific life of Jesus which reveals the universality of God’s love.
1 1-4 God, who gave our forefathers many different glimpses of the truth in the words of the prophets, has now, at the end of the present age, given us the truth in the Son. Through the Son God made the whole universe, and to the Son he has ordained that all creation shall ultimately belong. This Son, radiance of the glory of God, flawless expression of the nature of God, himself the upholding principle of all that is, effected in person the reconciliation between God and man and then took his seat at the right hand of the majesty on high—thus proving himself, by the more glorious name that he has won, far greater than all the angels of God.
Hebrews comes from a Christian community very different from the John communities, yet this introduction, as the reader can see, almost perfectly chimes with the passage above. God has revealed himself /herself in the Son, whose life has reconciled human beings to God. This reconciling grace is the radiance of God’s glory and the upholding principle of creation. Because the description of the Son’s status comes first here, we might be tempted to think that believers first of all know Jesus as “unique son of God” and only then as reconciler. But no, it’s the other way round. Because Jesus’ life and death an resurrection has reconciled them to God, believers come to understand and proclaim his status. The theology of the Son of God has no hocus-pocus; Jesus is not a superman; he is the man in whom God’s goodness is unconcealed.