Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Reading the Gospel of John

Reading and interpreting John’s gospel? Like many persons, I connect far more easily to the Jesus of the synoptics: as trinitarian a feel as we can get from reading John, the synoptics' Jesus relates more to us, relates more to me! To start with what John's gospel doesn’t do, in the synoptics Jesus invites us to journey through life with him, to Jerusalem, the cross, and the empty tomb, and in an immediate and compelling way, as in the words from Graham Kendrick’s song, Knowing You, "Oh, to know the power of Your risen life and to know You in Your sufferings. To become like You in Your death, my Lord, so with You to live and never die." The Jesus of the synoptics calls us to other-centered lives – and selfless deaths – (like NYC firefighter Father Mychal Judge's; for example); John's Jesus lives in a world far removed from ours in language and to some extent, also in effective action. In John signs are prominent; consistent with the Hebrew Bible's witness, the synoptic writers make it plain to us it's not about signs and wonders – even the gods of the Egyptians could do the fireworks!

My Jesus calls me to life in the world, not to existence in some other world. I love that in the book of Acts Luke calls Christians both "believers" and "followers of the Way!" You gotta name Jesus as Lord and you gotta walk that talk! Not long ago one of my neighbors asked me to bear my testimony and that's something all of us need to be able to do easily and with assurance, confidence and conviction, and not just before a candidacy committee or a call committee where it's reasonably safe.

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