July 31, 2005

Secret Burial

main point -

The burial and its preparations. I think there are two main points here. One -- Jesus really is dead. Two -- this work was done in secret. It might also be pointed out that the two disciples who did this did not expect a resurrection - or at least not a resurrection in three days -- they prepared him in traditional manner - which included balms to keep the stench down.

new light -

Both disciples involved -- Joseph and Nicodemus -- work in secret and are themselves secret disciples. This ain't Peter and James. Is John maybe trying to say something about the faithfulness and devotion of secret Christians?

truth -

Not sure what true to my experience might mean here.

There are in every church and every Quaker meeting folks who run the show -- are big time "weighty Friends" -- for whom doing the work is an important part of their sense of who they are and also a big part of their public persona.

What about the quiet folks who don't say much don't seem to do much? Maybe they are as faithful in their own way -- maybe at times more faithful -- in times and places we never see.

implications -

But when you pray, go to your private room, shut yourself in, and so pray to your Father who is in that secret place, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you. Matthew 6:6

problems -

no troubles

image above is William Blake's Entombment btw -- just thought Larry would like to know

John 19:38-42

After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

July 28, 2005

Jesus' side is pierced / C

... one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out.

*** Warning - heavy duty Catholic stuff coming up :-) ***

Not being a cradle Catholic, I was unaware of the significance of this line of the passage to many Catholics ... the devotion of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. From the early days of the church, this passage has had significance.

Augustine wrote ...

"The second Adam with bowed head slept on the cross, in order that a spouse might be formed for Him from that which flowed from His side as He slept. Death, by which the dead come to life again! What could be more cleansing than His blood? What more healing than this wound?" (Treatise on John, IX, 10).

John Chrysostom also commented ...

"Blood and water at once flowed out of the wound. It is not by mere chance or unwittingly that these two fountains sprang up at this juncture. It is because blood and water are two constitutive elements of the Church. Those already admitted to the sacred rites know this well; those, I mean, who have been regenerated in the waters of Baptism and who in the Eucharist feed on Christ�s flesh and blood. It is to this one source that all the Christian mysteries trace back their origin. And so when you apply your lips to this awesome cup, do it as though you drank that precious Blood from the open side of Christ Himself" (Homily on John, 85).

In his Treatise on the Love of God, Francis de Sales gives the foundation of the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus:

"God’s love is seated within the Savior’s Heart as on a royal throne. He beholds through the cleft of His pierced side all the hearts of the children of men. His Heart is King of Hearts, and He keeps His eyes fixed on our hearts. Just as those who peer through a lattice see clearly while they themselves are only half seen, so too the divine love within that Heart, or rather that Heart of divine love, always sees our hearts and looks on them with His eyes of love, while we do not see Him, but half see Him. If we could see Him as He is, O God, since we are mortal men we would die for love of Him, just as when He was in mortal flesh He died for us, and just as He would still die for us were He not now immortal" (Quoted in Heart of the Redeemer, p.118).

The most well-known example of the devotion of the Sacred Heart is that of the apparitions of Margaret Mary Alacoque, occurring between 1673 and 1675, in which Jesus, among other things, revealed the image of his sacred heart that's depicted in statues, paintings and icons: His pierced heart, on fire with love, crowned with the cross and enfolded with the crown of thorns.

July 27, 2005

Jesus Always in Control

If Jesus had the sort of superhuman command of the events leading to his death that John wants him to have -- then it wasn't a real death was it?

In death we lose the last pretence of controlling our lives. It is humiliation. Its is a stripping away of the last bits of who we are or try to be in this world.

By painting a Jesus with this much command John has given us a Jesus who is not human and who really could not have tasted death. The death becomes irrelevant in a way.

It is finished (John 19:30) (L)

"When Jesus had received the wine, he said, It is finished. Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit." The first thing that comes to my mind here is that Jesus' death was an act of will. (I've known other people who chose to die at a certain point, and did.)

Pursuing this idea Jesus might also have gone on living if he had chosen to. The fact that they put him to death was with his consent, and otherwise they couldn't have.

When Peter struck off the ear of the servant of the high priest Jesus said, "Matt 26:53 Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?"

And remember also what he said immediately before: "all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword." (This makes me tremble for our country.)

Recall also in Luke's version that "22:51 .... And he touched his ear, and healed him."

Looking also at Matthew's version of Jesus' last moment we read:
27:50 Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.

27:51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;

27:52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,

27:53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.

The veil of the temple represented the separation of God from most of us; the high priest was supposed to enter the Holy of Holies once a year. When Jesus completed his mission to us, it ended that separation between God and man. This is at least part of the reason that Quakers don't have priests; we have direct access. (Wow! I just noticed "and the earth did quake". Indeed!)

John 19:31-37 Jesus' Side is Pierced

Since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the sabbath, especially because that sabbath was a day of great solemnity. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken and the bodies removed. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out. (He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth.) These things occurred so that the scripture might be fulfilled, "None of his bones shall be broken." (not sure on the scriptures for this) And again another passage of scripture says, "They will look on the one whom they have pierced." (Zechariah 12:10)

July 26, 2005

Why is Jesus' death meaningful?

That's a good subject for everyone's exploration. Crystal has given a very good reason in her comment to her last post here; God did a great thing for her by exposing her to it preparatory for her experience being present at a love one's death.

Another reason comes to mind from the memory of a new convert's reaction; he was a primtive African, and when he saw the terrible scene, he said "away from there, Jesus; that's my place." (That memory never fails to move me intensely.)

As a basis for our salvation I have to remind you of my friend Ted Clark, returning to the seminary faculty with his new book, Saved by his Life (that was aeons ago).

The Bible states we are saved by his life (see Romans 5:10).

It would be worthwhile to review David's blog touching on this subject, with many comments.

Jesus' life (and death) is a pattern for commited Christians. The lessons he has for us in the gospels are valuable clues to point toward appropriate behaviour under any circumstance. He chose to expose himself to the wrath of powerful enemies, and he paid the price.

That has certainly been a clue for the thousands of Christians, up to and including today who followed a similar path. But even for those of us who may be too (what?) to chose that path, his doing it must certainly inspire us to commit ourselves perhaps a bit more intently than we did in the past.

We are all scheduled for a cross. I guess which one we choose is our own choice.

July 25, 2005

on the lighter side

just because this scripture study is getting way to serious . . .

The Crucifixion / C

main point -
The main thing that strikes me about John's version of the crucifixion is the lack of angst. Jesus is portrayed as being always in control of the situation ... no emphasis on the emotional or physical suffering, he even carries his own cross without help ... Jesus is not a victim here.

new light -
I hadn't noticed before, but Jesus' mother is never mentioned by name in John's gospel, just as the beloved disciple is not ... some say this is so Mary and John can be symbols of the new church continuing after Jesus' death.

truth -
I think I don't so much like this gospel's portrayal of the "passion" as it seems not true to experience ... I think there would have been a fair amount of fear, pain and despair.

implications -
The implications of this passage are many and I'm not sure I even understand them all. Here's something I wrote about it for my blog last Easter ... Some people might wonder why the retreat is focusing so on this violent brutal end of Jesus' life. After all, he preached for three years but hung on the cross for only three hours. I'm not sure how to answer this, but I believe that contemplating Jesus' torture and death wasa good thing for me, though hard, and I'm not even doing it correctly. This week and the next are meant to be "consoling" in a way I've not yet discovered, but still I would not have missed the experience. When I took this retreat three years ago, my mom, who I lived with, was dying of lung cancer. It was an awful experience but looking back, I wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else in the world. The retreat says that to be with a loved one when they suffer and die is a gift .... I guess I'm trying to open that gift.

problems -
The problem of trying to bring good out of something horrible.

July 24, 2005

John 19: 16b-30 Crucifixion of Jesus

So they took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews. Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, Do not write, 'The King of the Jews,' but, 'This man said, I am King of the Jews.' Pilate answered, What I have written I have written. When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. So they said to one another, Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it. This was to fulfill what the scripture says,

They divided my clothes among themselves
and for my clothing they cast lots.

(Psalm 22:18 if you're curious)

And that is what the soldiers did.

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, Woman, here is your son. Then he said to the disciple, Here is your mother. And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home. After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), I am thirsty. (Psalm 69:21) A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, It is finished. Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

July 21, 2005

Jesus before Pilate

main point -

This story turns our basic assumptions about power and authority on their head. Pilate is powerless to act on his own judgment -- two reasons -- God has pre-ordained this encounter -- the Jews -- the supposedly conquerored and broken people are calling the shots.

new light -

You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.

Because Pilate is simply fulfilling God's will here -- the Jewish leaders are more guilty than Pilate? Seems a non sequitur to me. The way a person of faith fulfills God's will is different from a person of non-faith. We can either do God's work by cooperating with it or by fighting it. The Jewish authorities are acting like Romans here.

truth -

Haven't attended too many capital trails lately.

But I think I have this tendency to do God's will kicking and screaming as I go. A kind of hybrid between Pilate and Jesus perhaps -- maybe more of Peter in me with a sprinkling of James and John -- not too much Judas I hope.

implications -

Self-consecration. Prayer. Be ready to be faithful. All good things but not easily done in the waiting period before the marching orders are given.

problems -

None to think of. Whereas I saw anti-Jewish sentiments in earlier passages I see anti-authority here. I think Jesus' way of power is power through mutual submission to one another and to God's will -- power with rather than power over. And this witnesses to the ultimate powerlessness of those who seek power over others.

July 20, 2005

The Civil Trial / C

main point-
The point John seems to want to make is that both Pilate (the Romans) and the Jewish religious leaders are responcible for killing Jesus.

He has the religious leaders say ... "We do not have the right to execute anyone," ... the NAB says The Jewish punishment for blasphemy was stoning (⇒ Lev 24:16). In coming to the Romans to ensure that Jesus would be crucified, the Jewish authorities fulfilled his prophecy that he would be exalted (⇒ John 3:14; ⇒ 12:32-33). There is some historical evidence, however, for Jews crucifying Jews.

John also had Pilate be almost synpathetic to Jesus and he gives the religious leaders many chances to change their mind about killing Jesus. But according to an article,
Who Killed Jesus?, ... Although the Gospels present Pilate as indecisive and somewhat concerned for justice in Jesus' case, the Alexandrian Jewish writer Philo (a contemporary of Jesus) described him as "inflexible, merciless, and obstinate."

new light-
I hadn't noticed before what Jesus said to Pilate ... For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice. ... I like that.

truth and implications-
I know many people shy away from this (and the next) part of the gospels as being too upsetting ... Jesus is dragged around, slapped, ridiculed, flogged, etc ... and this is one reason people so disliked Mel Gibson's movie, but I think we shouldn't turn away from it. You can't pull out and discard this thread from the tapistry of Jesus' life without unraveling the whole thing and I think this is true for all of our lives as well.

the problem for me ... this scriptural passage is so familiar, it's almost lost the ability to touch me. I try to remind myself that when I let it be real to me, and it then upsets me, that it should upset me.

18:28-19:16 (L)

I'm glad David put this all in one post. It's not something that I like to dwell on very long, although I understand that some good Christian folk meditate to a great extent on it.

For me the story is like the famine report in today's news, the killings in Iraq and other places, even the afternoon traffic death report on the local news.

These are things I don't allow myself to focus on; the world is dreary enough without my close attention. Not a Christian attitude perhaps, but, I believe, a very prevalent one among relgious people in general. A great man was cruelly murdered; so what else is new? At this point I join "the world". Pray for me.

July 19, 2005

John 18:28-19:16 (It's a Long One Folks)

Then they took Jesus from Caiaphas to Pilate's headquarters. It was early in the morning. They themselves did not enter the headquarters, so as to avoid ritual defilement and to be able to eat the Passover. So Pilate went out to them and said, What accusation do you bring against this man? They answered, If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you. Pilate said to them, Take him yourselves and judge him according to your law. The Jews replied, We are not permitted to put anyone to death. (This was to fulfill what Jesus had said when he indicated the kind of death he was to die.)

Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, Are you the King of the Jews? Jesus answered, Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me? Pilate replied, I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done? Jesus answered, My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here. Pilate asked him, So you are a king? Jesus answered, You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice. Pilate asked him, What is truth? After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, I find no case against him. But you have a custom that I release someone for you at the Passover. Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews? They shouted in reply, Not this man, but Barabbas! Now Barabbas was a bandit.

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. They kept coming up to him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! and striking him on the face. Pilate went out again and said to them, Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no case against him. So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, Here is the man! When the chief priests and the police saw him, they shouted, Crucify him! Crucify him! Pilate said to them, Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him. The Jews answered him, We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has claimed to be the Son of God.

Now when Pilate heard this, he was more afraid than ever. He entered his headquarters again and asked Jesus, Where are you from? But Jesus gave him no answer. Pilate therefore said to him, Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you? Jesus answered him, You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin. From then on Pilate tried to release him, but the Jews cried out, If you release this man, you are no friend of the emperor. Everyone who claims to be a king sets himself against the emperor.

When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside and sat on the judge's bench at a place called The Stone Pavement, or in Hebrew Gabbatha. Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon. He said to the Jews, Here is your King! They cried out, Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him! Pilate asked them, Shall I crucify your King?" The chief priests answered, We have no king but the emperor. Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.

July 16, 2005

Denial ain't just a river in Egypt- crystal

Someone said it was ironic that Peter, who here denies Jesus, was chosen as the rock on which the church was to be built. But maybe it isn't ironic after all. Was Peter's place as the rock earned or given as a gift? Remember the scripture passage parable about the landowner who hires workers early in the day and then some more workers almost at the end of the day ... all end up being paid the same wage (Matthew 20:1-16). I read a homily once that said ...

The reign of God is like an SAT examination: some worked night and day exhausting themselves in preparation; some paid thousands in coaching fees to learn the secret tricks; and some went out partying every night and guessed the answers. All got the same score ... That the reign of God is not earned but given. That charity trumps justice in God’s game of life.

Peter loved Jesus. Only one unnamed disciple went with Jesus when he was arrested, the others all ran away. Except Peter. Peter wasn't perfect, but maybe he didn't have to be because Jesus loved Peter.

Paul's Denial (L)

Like others in this group I have always identified closely with Peter: so impulsive, so rash, so quick to react, and often sorry later. I shouldn't be judgmental but who among us has not denied Christ? "I was sick, and ye visited me not, hungry, and ye fed me not, etc. etc."

Like Paul suggested in his comment, Peter is here to show us who we are, what we are, how we are. Yes, he was forgiven, as I am repeatedly, and yes we will go on to better and greater things. We, too, are called to be apostles (Webster: A person sent out on a special mission).

(As David, or someone, has intimated, some of these passages are so familiar that they basically evoke old tried and true thoughts. That's why it's so refreshing to be exposed to some very different thoughts and feelings of good Friends, as you folks are.)

Peter's Denial

main point -

The main point seems to be that Peter denied Jesus three times by the cock crow. John differs from the other gospels by separating the first denial and sandwiching other material between it and this passage. All four canonical gospels depict this -- so I gather it to be significant. A strong tradition which the early church felt needed to be preserved. In John alone will a three-fold forgiveness undo this in the resurrection. Another difference: the Synoptics depict a sudden flash of awareness in Peter at the sound of the crow. Peter realizes he has fulfilled his Master's prophesy and weeps. John remains silent on this.

new light -

No new light as such. New questions. Why is this story important for the first Christians to preserve? I don't know.

truth -

Following George Fox's instructions on how to read scriptures -- cited in his journal -- I take Peter with his denial into myself and ask how I am like Peter.

I am Peter -- I do not own Christ when put to the test. An atheist co-worker and I have a number of discussions on religion fairly regularly. Last night he introduced me to his wife as the guy trying to convert him -- I denied it.

I brooded on it later. We saw our discussions differently I suppose. I was not witnessing to him -- I have been careful to point out the limitations of faith and religion in my conversations and have not been trying to win him over or win the argument. I have tried to -- always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you (1 Peter 3:15) but fail even in that -- I equivocate.

My sense of the complexity of truth and the ambiguity present in matters of faith is stronger than my certitude -- there is perhaps more of Socrates than Jesus in me.

implications -

Perhaps in the resurrection Jesus will confront me for each time I could have witnessed and instead was silent -- and each time Christ will commission me and forgive.

In the meanwhile -- like Peter -- I will need to be faithful as I can and not as I cannot.

problems -

I feel no stop in my mind with this passage and that is itself a problem. Some bible stories are so familiar they no longer challenge us to faithfulness. They offer no problem as we can no longer read them for the first time.

July 15, 2005

John 18:25-27

Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They asked him, "You are not also one of his disciples, are you?" He denied it and said, "I am not." One of the slaves of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, "Did I not see you in the garden with him?" Again Peter denied it, and at that moment the cock crowed.

July 14, 2005

Truth to Power

MAIN POINT The most striking element of this passage to me is that Jesus was humble and honest – that he spoke his truth even in the presence of authority who would abuse him, or as Friends would say, Jesus spoke “truth to power”.

NEW LIGHT I have read that if one spoke of evil, it should be spoken in secret. Therefore, it could be that Jesus is saying that nothing he has spoken or taught was evil in nature – he said nothing in secret.

Also, when the police struck Jesus, he displayed his true non-aggressive character with humility and sincerity. Jesus asks for a specific testimony to what might have been wrong, and to carefully evaluate this aggressive response to his testimony. This is a skillful model of a dignified response to an humiliating situation.

TRUTH Jesus does not hide his truth, and he declares his own sense of justice without incrimation. It is true for me that this approach is ideal, but unfortunately I am not skillful in executing it. I would likely fall silent and numb in such a situation.

IMPLICATIONS In this passage I don’t focus on the unfairness of the trial as much as I do on Jesus’ response to it. So much in this human life does seem unfair, the logical focus must be on the response. Jesus appeals to the higher consciousness of the authorities. How can we, by our response to injustice, behave in the most compelling and honest manner, elevating the consciousness of all who may witness?

July 13, 2005

Jesus & the High Priest - Joe G.

1. What is the author's main point in this passage? (MAIN POINT)

This is one of many encounters that Jesus is described as having with various religious and secular authorities leading up to the crucifixion.

The main point seems to emphasize the innocency of Jesus. He has spoken nothing in secrecy; he's plainly showed what he believes and how he lives. What has he done to deserve this treatment? Nothing.

2. What new light do I find in this particular reading of this passage of the text? (NEW LIGHT)

I'm struck by the boldness of Jesus' answers. No, timidity here, although he clearly remains respectful. His "yes" is "yes" and his "no" is "no". I wonder if Gandhi or MLK used Jesus' example during his arrest and interrogations for their non-violent resistance movements.

I also wonder if the reference to Jesus not speaking anything "in secret" was to clarify that there were no "hidden" teachings of Christ as sometimes (apparently) advocated by Gnostic Christians around the time that this gospel firstly widely appeared.

3. Is this passage true to my experience? (TRUTH)

I'm realizing (maybe this is more "new light" :)) that this passage is an excellent example of what Jesus meant by: Let your word be "“Yes, Yes"” or "“No, No"”; anything more than this comes from the evil one.* *(or "of evil"). Matthew 5:37 (NRSV).

Interesting, but most times when I have been very clear with my "yes" and my "no", others tend to understand what I want or need from them or what I can or cannot give to them.

4. What are the implications of this passage for my life? (IMPLICATIONS)

Again, it's difficult to "apply" this directly to my life given that I've never been persecuted or arrested on trumped up charges before. I'm amazed at how Jesus lived what he taught so plainly and clearly, and yet I'm only now, after many years of reading the same passages, understanding the connection made in the text between his word and deed.

5. What problems do I have with this passage? (PROBLEMS)


July 12, 2005

Jesus and the High Priest / C

main point -

The unfairness of the situation in which Jesus finds himself is what most strikes me. He preached in the traditional places and now wants his words/acts to be his witness, but the authorities don't want to be confused with the facts ... they've already decided his fate.

new light -

I have said nothing in secret ... I hadn't noticed before Jesus' emphasis on his openness. This is one of the things I most value about him. A while ago I came upon the secret gospel of Mark and I was disturbed by it because it seemed to imply that Jesus taught in secret and that his teaching had more in common with mystery cults than a straightforward and accessible philosophy of love (of God and others). As it turns out, that gospel is likely a hoax - link/more info

truth -

Is this unfairness of Jesus' trial true to my experience? This is an every day occurrance for most people, I'd guess, though on a less dramatic scale ... someone starts with a belief or an agenda and then notices the factrs that support it, ignoring those which contradict it ... sadly, I do this myself a lot.

implications -

the implications for me of the "new light" - that Jesus does nothing in secret - is to foster my trust in him.

problems -

the problem I have with this passage is that it is upsetting ... why do you strike me? ... :-(

david-william's comments on v 19-24

main point

The innocence of Jesus and how the opposition are more concerned for respect for authority than with truth.

new light

It's hard finding new light in familiar passages/stories. It seems very clear to me at least that opposition to the truth is coming from maintaining authority and position far more from a difference in opinion on what counts as truth. I guess that is "new" in the sense I had not noticed that emphasis here (but I had elsewhere).


An awful lot of what people in authority do is designed to protect -- not the truth or the general welfare -- but their own authority and position. But then so is an awful lot of what people with minimal authority do.


it changes how we approach differences of opinion doesn't it -- if one's opponent on say -- the peace testimony -- or even we ourselves -- have personal investment in the issue -- what then?


and John the Evangelist is not himself exempt -- he portrays the Jewish authorities as out of the truth and in it for their own mutual self-interest -- but is that ALL that's going on? Is not the gospel writer in a similar position -- defending Christian faith against the big bad Jewish authorities?

John 18: 19-24 Jesus and the High Priest

Then the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his teaching. Jesus answered, "I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. Why do you ask me? Ask those who heard what I said to them; they know what I said." When he had said this, one of the police standing nearby struck Jesus on the face, saying, "Is that how you answer the high priest?" Jesus answered, "If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong. But if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?" Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

July 10, 2005

Hidden Assumptions

We each bring all of our lives beliefs and convictions to what we read. Some of us are more aware of them than others. Larry and I for example often get into minor tussles over the assumptions we bring to scripture.

Paradoxically Larry and I agree in the basics and disagree in the details. Larry says something like all scripture is poetry and I say all scripture is parable. Our differences are not diatant at all.

Some assumptions we bring aren't about scripture at all: like the divinity of Christ or the facts of history. And still they impinge on how we read the texts we are looking at.

Someone calling themsleves Brandon attracted by our deliberations asked a rather pointed question:

How can we look at HUMAN history, and make any inferences as to what the kingdom is like?

It opened up for me that some assumptions I take for granted may not be shared by everyone. Like the idea that God reveals Godself through human history. No passage of scripture declares it but the whole breadth of scripture implies it. For me.

It seems to me this is an opportunity for us to lay our cards on the table so to speak. What do we bring to our reading of scripture? Something perhaps we haven't spoken of here before. It doesn't need to be monumental (or even secretly personal).

We've alraedy sort of rehashed the Triunity/Unitarian thing and the divine inspiration thing. And the metaphorical/literal thing. What else makes the way you read unique?

July 08, 2005

Peter's Denial

main point

Peter's denial. Peter is marginalized here -- he enters the temple courtyard only through the beneficence of the other disciple whom Crystal associates with the Beloved Disciple and whom I associate with John the Evangelist. We may both be right (or wrong for that matter).

new light

John the Evangelist - and thus Johannine Christianity is seen as superior to Petrine Christianity -- John is recognized as Jesus' disciple -- Peter is not -- John walks Jesus with Jesus and Peter denies him -- Peter enters only the courtyard and then only at the behest of John and through the agency of a woman.


Petrine Christianity seems to be marked by questions of authority -- Peter holds the keys to the kingdom. John's Christianity seems to be marked by questions of relationship - love -- vine and branches -- shepherd & sheep. John's way is what I hope the kingdom is like. History would seem to indicate otherwise.


as with the washing of the feet -- if you would lead you must be slave to all others


as i have said before -- it always comes down to obdeinece doesn't it

Peter's Denial / C

main point - I most noticed the difference in behavior between Peter and "another disciple" who I think is supposed to be "the disciple Jesus loved". Peter is afraid and hangs back but the beloved disciple is known by the high priest and goes with Jesus, apparently unafraid.

new light - I hadn't really thought about the fact that the disciples were also in danger of being arrested and killed.

truth - is this true to my experience ... yes. I have to admit that if I were one of the disciples, I wouldn't even have the courage to follow at a distance, like Peter. I still cringe, telling new people that I'm a christian.

implications - I find inspiration in the example of the courage of the beloved disciple. And I'm comforted by the fact that Jesus still chose Peter to lead the disciples ... Jesus doesn't expect us to toe any special line to be accepted, he takes us as we are.

problems - it is kind of demoralizing to realize what a coward I am, but I try to keep focused on Jesus instead of myself.

July 07, 2005

John 18:15-18 (L)

Matthew (and probably other gospels) have a more detailed account of Peter's denial. Jesus had told Peter beforehand that he would do it, and Peter refused to believe it. Then it happened: he denied knowing Jesus not once but three times, then the cock crowed (as Jesus had predicted), "And [Peter] went out, and wept bitterly", much the way you or I might have done (and perhaps have done).

Going back to John there's an interesting comment on 18:18 by Adam Nicholson, writing about the KJ translators in God Secretaries (2003).

John 18: 15-18 Peter's Denial

Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, but Peter was standing outside at the gate. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out, spoke to the woman who guarded the gate, and brought Peter in.

The woman said to Peter, "You are not also one of this man's disciples, are you?" He said, "I am not."

Now the slaves and the police had made a charcoal fire because it was cold, and they were standing around it and warming themselves. Peter also was standing with them and warming himself.

July 06, 2005

catching up -- on putting away the sword

1. What is the author's main point in this passage? (MAIN POINT)

I think the point of this passage was to affirm that despit this being the story of Jesus' arrest leading to his execution, Jesus remains in complete control.

2. What new light do I find in this particular reading of this passage of the text? (NEW LIGHT)

Similar to Job. And to certain stories in the Synoptics. The soldiers (I presume gentile) are shown as faithful in contrast to Judas (the betrayer) and Peter (who always seems to be doing the wrong thing for the right reasons -- you notice that about Pete?)

3. Is this passage true to my experience? (TRUTH)

In what way? The Son of God is betrayed by a close disciple to authorities who fear the world more than they love God. Pretty much standard operating procedure on planet earth I think. Despite the criminal injustice in thsi world Christ is in complete control. I hope in it. But true to my experience? My faith ain't that complete as yet.

4. What are the implications of this passage for my life? (IMPLICATIONS)

On the worst day. When chaos seems to reign over good and the poor and marginalized are led captive -- Christ remains in control. His cause is still served -- despite injustice and even through the injustice. In other words, trust.

5. What problems do I have with this passage? (PROBLEMS)

Obedience. Always comes to that in the end. I always know better than I do.

July 05, 2005

John 18:12-14


The main point -- uncomfortably enough -- seems to be that it is the Jewish authorities who have Jesus arrested.


I had not noticed before the familial references here. In addition to whatever old boy's network there were also kinship ties binding these "authorities" to one another. A tight circle of mutual self-interest.


Wasn't it Bob Dylan who said to not trust anybody over 30? Mind you he's 62 now isn't he?


Not sure what might count as an implication here. That folks with power will join togetehr to protect it? Seems almost -- trivial.


Blaming the Jews again.

John 18:12-14 / C

... it was better to have one person die for the people

The religious leadership believed, according to this passage, that it was better to kill Jesus and save countless lives in a possible riot and Roman response. This is an understandable position, but ...

This is a kind of utilitarian thinking which reduces the worth of human lives to that of widgets ... two lives are worth more than one, five lives are worth more than two. Life doesn't come with a price tag. And if you believe that killing is wrong, the fact that the killing will save others doesn't make the killing ok ... this reduces one's morality to "the ends justify the means".

When you choose the lesser of two evils, you're still choosing evil.

Crystal, who is now waiting for David's situational ethics response :-)

July 04, 2005

John 18:12-14

So the soldiers, their officer, and the Jewish police arrested Jesus and bound him. First they took him to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it was better to have one person die for the people.

Put Away Thy Sword Peter (John 18:1-11) - Joe G.

1. What is the author's main point in this passage? (MAIN POINT)

It seems as if there are several points to be made with this passage by the author. First, it is to explain the circumstances of Jesus' arrest. Second, is to suggest that another prophecy (This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken, "I did not lose a single one of those whom you gave me."). The third is to demonstrate the compassion of Jesus: even when one of his enemies is injured by one of his followers, Jesus stops the attack and heals the enemy.

2. What new light do I find in this particular reading of this passage of the text? (NEW LIGHT)

This passage is another one of my favorites. In fact, when reading about the life of Bayard Rustin I was reminded of this incident between Simon Peter, Jesus, and the priest's slave Malchus.

During WWII Bayard Rustin was imprisoned for refusing to serve in the military because of his Quaker beliefs. At the time, the prisons were racially segregated. Nonetheless, Bayard broke this rule and fellowshipped with several white conscientious objectors who were also imprisoned at the same time.

One day a white inmate, who was deeply racist, became enraged by Bayard socializing with his white friends. The racist inmate verbally threatened Bayard, and then he attacked Bayard by repeatedly hitting him with a nearby broom. Several of Bayard's white friends moved to attack the white prisoner, but Bayard stopped them from intervening. The attacker continued to hit Bayard until the broom stick snapped in two.

Afterwards, Bayard needed treatment for his injuries. He was more circumspect amongst his fellow prisoners; I wonder if he suffered from some emotional trauma. Nonetheless, he continued to break the segregation rules. Eventually, the prison changed its rules of segregation just before Bayard was released.

After reading about this incident I pondered whether the example of Jesus noted in this passage served as some sort of inspiration and guide for Bayard when he was attacked like this.

In addition, I never realized that the name of the slave was identified. The man that Jesus healed was Malchus. Imagine knowing the name of the person who came to arrest you and then managing to reach out in healing love despite their intent of imprisoning you so that you might be tortured.

3. Is this passage true to my experience? (TRUTH)

Honestly, I've never had this sort of courage nor the compassion demonstrated by Jesus (or Bayard for that matter). On the other hand, I've never had the "opportunity" either. Of course, I hope that I would or could respond with such love for my attacker(s). I suspect that I would be less than a stellar example in such a situation.

Even so, the way Jesus responded is the "benchmark", the example for dealing with one's enemies even when they threaten one's wellbeing and life.

4. What are the implications of this passage for my life? (IMPLICATIONS)

I've had a relatively violent-free life, thank God!

Is it possible that when I compare the sometimes trivial conflicts I have had with others, and my attempts to be "non-violent" in such situations, that I'm trivialing the starker and more traumatizing experiences that others have had to face, such as in the examples of Jesus' arrest or Bayard Rustin's being attacked while in prison? I suspect that I am doing so.

5. What problems do I have with this passage? (PROBLEMS)

I have no idea which verse is being referred to and what is meant by the passage that is mentioned (in regards to the fulfillment of the prophecy - see #1 above).

July 02, 2005

Put Away Thy Sword (L)

The first thing I notice in this passage is that John has not used the gripping Gethsemane passage of the three Synoptic gospels; that holds special interest to me for showing once again the Master's relationship with God (his essential humanity) and the disciples' lack of awareness.

'Peter's sword' has a special lesson for modern Christians, especially for us Quakers, most of whom have developed an outstanding peaceable consciousness. When it becomes a matter of letting yourself be violated or defending yourself, what will you do?

July 01, 2005

Betrayal - John 18:1-11

main point -
a few points ... that the romans (soldiers) were involved in Jesus' arrest ... that Jesus is God (my version has him saying "I AM" instead of "I am he") ... that though Jesus was betrayed, he went willingly.

new light -
I hadn't remembered that Jesus said "I AM" or that this caused the soldiers to fall down.

truth -
the Jesus in this passage does seem like the Jesus I've come to know ... brave, self-sacrificing, concerned about the welfare of others.

implications -
this reminds me that there are things more important than physical survival.

problems -
no problems, really ... though the story-line is disturbing because Jesus' friend betrayed him.