Farewell: I am the way

Holy-Face-of-Jesus-23 I am the Way. In vv.6-11 we have the explanation the disciples seek. In v.6 there is a shift from the “where” (as in , “where you are going” – to the way to get there (“how can we known the way”). In response to this shift Jesus says “I am the way and the truth and the life.” This statement contains the sixth of seven ‘I am’ sayings with predicates in the Fourth Gospel (6:35, 48, 51; 8:12; 10:7, 9; 10:11, 14; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1, 5). Fundamental to Jesus’ response to Thomas’ question was that Jesus himself is the way (and it this context that Jesus is the truth and the life seem to be supporting statements). Continue reading

Farewell: I will come back again

 I will come back again…and show you the way.  Jesus’ coming back (v.3) has been variously interpreted:

  • his coming to the disciples following his resurrection (cf. 20:19–29);
  • his coming in the person of the Holy Spirit (cf. 14:15–21);
  • his second coming at the end of this age (cf. 14:28; 21:22–23; parousia); and
  • his ‘coming’ to take his disciples to be with him when they die. (This suggestion, comforting though it is to think of Christ ‘coming’ for us when we die, is not something that receives any support in this passage.)

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Farewell: in my Father’s house

art by Janet Pfeiffer

art by Janet Pfeiffer

In my Father’s House 2 In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be

Verse 2 also has some translation options: “In my Father’s house [oikia] there are many dwelling places [monai].”Should oikia be translated “house,” i.e., a physical structure (as in 11:31 & 12:3);”household,” i.e., a community of people (as in 4:53 & 8:35)?; or even “family” – all of which are valid translations [EDNT 2:495]. Often people immediately think of the King James’ translation: “In my Father’s house there are many mansions.” – which immediately moves one thoughts and reference to heaven. Is this the intention of this passage? Continue reading

Farewell: troubled hearts

Troubled-Heart Commentary. The opening words of the gospel are straight forward: “Do not let your hearts be troubled” (14:1). These same words will be repeated in v.27 when Jesus promises that the Holy Spirit will accompany them after Jesus returns to the Father.

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Though deeply troubled by the prospect of his own betrayal and crucifixion, Jesus concerned himself with his disciples’ distress. He said to them, Do not let your hearts be troubled [tarassō]. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. Their faith in God, and in particular their faith in Jesus, would enable them to calm their hearts as they faced what lay ahead. There are some scholars who argue that the expression in the Greek is in the imperative, something we would more naturally translate as “Stop being troubled.” It seems that in either case Jesus is not talking to trouble-free people and telling them not to begin to worry. Jesus knows he is talking to people whose hearts are far from serene. Continue reading

Farewell: context

John 14:1–12 1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me.2 In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. 4 Where (I) am going you know the way.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” 8 Philip said to him, “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves. 12 Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father. Continue reading

Mother’s Day

A word of advice to everyone: if you can’t remember whether or not you called your mother, you didn’t. But what about when your mom doesn’t remember if you called? And it has only been five minutes.

My mom turned 90 in November and is of solid pioneer stock. I really cannot remember a day when she was sick. She was active, played golf until she was 88, even occasionally broke 100 from the red tees. A little over two years ago she had a heart arrhythmia event, blood pressure dropped like a rock, and she fell like a pine tree onto a concrete walkway. Did not break anything – except her front tooth. That annoyed her completely because she had just finished paying for the cap on that tooth. But there was a severe concussion, but over time mom has had more moments of forgetfulness. Continue reading

Just as he has loved them…

Christ the Good ShepherdA Theological Summary Verses 17-18 form the conclusion to the discourse. In these verses, the shepherd meta­phor is abandoned completely and Jesus speaks directly about his death and relationship with God. These verses focus on three theological themes that are essential to understanding the death of Jesus in John.

First, these verses place Jesus’ death fully in the context of his relationship with God. Verse 17 contains the first linkage of “love” (agapaō) with Jesus’ death in the Fourth Gospel. God’s love for the world (3:16) and for Jesus (3:35) are already known to the reader, and this verse adds a new dimension to that love. God loves Jesus because Jesus lives out God’s commandment fully (v.18). Continue reading

The Good Shepherd

I AM the Good ShepherdImagery of Shepherd Israel’s leaders were often regarded as shepherds, and even though God was always their principal shepherd, responsible human agents were necessary so that Israel would not be as “sheep without a shepherd” (Num 27:16, 17); and significantly, a charismatic element is said to have rested on such leaders (Num 27:16–21; cf. Isa 11:1–9; 44:28–45:1). God is said to have led the flock Israel through the wilderness by the hand of Moses and Aaron (Ps 77:21; Isa 63:11). Although no Israelite king is ever directly called by the title “shepherd,” it is implied, since David as prince feeds, or shepherds, Israel (2 Sam 5:2), and when Micah predicted the death of Ahab and Israel’s defeat, he said the scattered army would be “as sheep which have no shepherd” (1 Kgs 22:17; 2 Chr 18:16; cf. Num 27:16, 17). Continue reading

Deep waters: some history and context

divorce1This is the second post in a very on-and-mostly-off-again series on the current topic of divorced and remarried Catholics and reception of the Eucharist. You can find the first post here: Pushing Out into Deep Waters

The Offices of the Bishop. The three classic roles of a bishop are teaching, sanctification and governance. As the church considers the idea of communion for the divorced and remarried, there will be a great deal of discussion of this topic which in one way or the other will actively touch upon each one of the three roles. And the discussion will come from folks far more qualified than I to offer an informed opinion. And the discussion will be laced with language particular to the Church: e.g., external forum and internal forum. Continue reading

The gate and the shepherd

I AM the Good Shepherd3So Jesus said again… It is evident to Jesus that the disciples do not understand, so Jesus offers another explanation. Commentaries have long asked how we are to understand the relationship between vv.1-6 and vv.7-18. Are the latter verses making an allegorical explanation to the already presented parable? The problem with such a view is that characters and imagery has changed. In any case, few people seem to believe that if vv.7-18 are a clarifying or additional explanation, it likely was not any more effective.

But some see that a change of scene/place is implied (from “driven out…walks ahead…follow). Whereas the opening verses were within the village: the courtyards and narrow streets on to which they opened. Now the setting is the open country into which the shepherd led the sheep for grazing, and where in the summer months shepherd and sheep might spend the night. Overnight the sheep were placed in roughly constructed round stone-walled enclosures. The top of the dry-stone wall was covered with thorns to keep out wild animals. Inside the enclosure the sheep were safe so long as the entrance was secured by the shepherd. He slept across the entrance as there was no door and no doorkeeper. Continue reading