August 31, 2005

Housekeeping (Gospel of Thomas)

The collective wisdom seems to support the non-canonical Gospel of Thomas as our next project. I'm open to this. But I do have some questions about process.

Gospel of Thomas runs to 114 sayings. I'm really not up for another long study. So my suggestion is posting somewhere between 10 and 15 sayings a week. How does this work for folks? An alternative would be that someone (like not me) who feels they have a handle on Thomas posts different sayings with no real intention on covering the whole thing. I prefer dealing with the thing in its entirety but I'll go with majority opine.

I have heard it said Larry has the gospel already posted on his hyperbible. If that is the case maybe he would like to take on posting the text duties -- I would have to raid somebody's website to post them myself anyway -- or transcribe it -- my copy of Thomas is ink on paper.

If anyone has any good Thomas links I'll post them in the sidebar -- please suggest links as a comment to this posting.

Thanks for the input. We're down to the last two postings for John. I posted one just now. The next will be Monday or Tuesday. If I don't see you folks before then -- happy Labour Day weekend.

John 21:15-19

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my lambs." A second time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Tend my sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" And he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep. Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go."(He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, "Follow me."

August 28, 2005

John 21: 1-14/ C

This last chapter of John is also the last contemplation in the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola.

main point
The disciples, especially Peter, were at loose ends. They perhaps were unable to make sense of the implications of the resurrection and could npt see how to procede. So they tried instead to go back to what had once been their lives before they met Jesus ... fishing.

new light/truth
As Thomas Wolfe said, you can't go home again, can't recover the past. The disciples were unable to catch any fish.

As I neared the end of the Spiritual Exercises online retreat, I realized that I was like the disciples in this passage. Before the retreat, I was an agnostic but the process of those 30 odd weeks changed me. I wasn't sure how to go forward (still not sure) yet I couldn't go back to how things had been before the retreat.

August 27, 2005

John 21:1-14

After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing." They said to him, "We will go with you." They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, "Children, you have no fish, have you?" They answered him, "No." He said to them, "Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some." So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off.

When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish that you have just caught." So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, "Come and have breakfast." Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, "Who are you?" because they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

August 25, 2005

commentary (david) -- John 20:30-31


The miracles of Jesus are not exhausted by this gospel rather the miracles (signs) recorded are presented to us that we might believe Jesus is the Christ and through believing have life in his name.


Reads like a wrap up don't it? But we have another chapter to go.

This passage is my justification for my way of reading scripture in general and miracle stories in particular. The meaning of the miracles are not that they happened but what they say about who Jesus is/was. They are signs of Christ's messiahship and consequently mediums for communicating new life to us.

I'll gently side step the question as to whether this is true to my experience.

August 24, 2005

John 20: 30-31

NOW Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

August 23, 2005

Nice to meetcha

Thanks for allowing me to join your skripture study. I may not post for a bit, as I’m learning my way around. This is just an intro.

Twyla here. I’m 49, happily married and empty-nested, live in the deep south, am a floozy for books, and am on a delightfully astonishing spiritual journey. I asked to join because I adore what I’ve read here so far and I have need of like-minded fellowship. (like I said, deep south)

I won’t bore you with a “what I believe” speech, especially since it would likely be a short paragraph with a lot of I don’t knows peppered throughout. For any who would like a peek at some of my spiritual ramblings, I talk a little from time to time on my blog. (whimsical mystic) To save you time, go here and here.

Although I’ve never met a Quaker face to face, so much of what I’ve read here and elsewhere (Foster, Kelly, y’alls blogs) resonates deeply. I don’t attend a traditional “church” meeting, but do meet weekly with a tiny group of believers in our homes.

Guess that will do. Glad to meet you. Glad to be here. Glad to call you friends.

(BTW, I posted this picture for no particular reason, except that it seems to kind of illustrate where I am or who I am or some such thing)

August 22, 2005

Membership Request

We have a request to join our group from Twyla. She sorta snuck up on me while I wasn't looking. I'm sure you folks have heard form her more than I have.

I'm happy to add Twyla to the list. But I want guidance from the rest of you before I leap into cyber-action.

Another consideration is group size. At what point does our cadre get too big to be useful? Don't think we're there yet. But something we might want also to consider.

Certitude of Belief

Main Point: Seeing is believing VS Blessed to believe having not seen…

New Light: Thomas is not with the other disciples when Jesus first appeared to them following his resurrection, and, with some incredulity, asks for careful proof that this could be true. From this, the proverbial aspersion “doubting Thomas” was coined. However, in the Gospel of Thomas, verse 13, Jesus extols the high state of consciousness that Thomas had attained when he said, “Because you have drunk, you have become intoxicated from the bubbling spring which I have measured out.” Note: I read this metaphorically. (Smile!)

Truth: Thomas’ request for proof, or for direct experience of the risen Christ, is analogous to the Quaker value of ‘speaking from experience.’ Blind faith, or blind belief upon which no experience is based, could be said to be little more than superstition of dogma. Having personal spiritual experience melds one’s faith. However, in this scripture, although Jesus grants Thomas’ request and invites him to reach out and touch and see so that he might believe, he also declares that those who do not need to see to believe are blessed. It could be that either way – seeing and believing or believing even though you have not seen are equally valid spiritual paths.

Implications: Perhaps the real question is, as Twyla suggested, is: How is it that we become available to receiving the truth? When we don’t know for certain, are we able step into the darkness, and be open to possibility beyond our rationality? Can we move into the uncomfortable vast field of unknowing, and find the light within it, even if we do not know its source?

Problems / Opinion: For myself, I rather appreciate inquiring minds. I admire those who really want to know, those who ask, who search, who question, who are open to discuss, and who are open to new ideas and new ways of thinking. I find little in common with those that blindly believe without inquiring. Though ultimately spirituality is a matter of belief, when it is approached scientifically belief matures into realization – a direct knowing by soul intuition, a kind of deep knowing that seems almost assured – as in beyond belief. This is the unshakable faith of certitude, even for that which is unseen.

August 21, 2005

Seeing Is Believing? / C

Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.

It's interesting that this is phrased in the same way as the Beatitudes (Sermon on the Mount). I've read that another translation of the line, Blessed are they ..., would be ... You are in the right place if you ...

Pretty challenging!

Nobody wants to believe in something without some evidence, some proof - nobody wants to be made a fool. But maybe if the thing to be believed in is a someone, then the chasm between doubt and faith is bridged by trust, hope and love - who hasn't been a fool for love?

Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.- Peter

commentary (david)


Thomas takes a scientific approach to religion. He doubts the witness of his coworkers and friends until he can see for himself. Jesus provides him with the opportunity. He then calls blessed those who accept the truth of the resurrection without seeing for themselves.


The Christian church lives or dies on the basis of believing the testimony of others. We have no records of the resurrected Lord appearing to non-believers. True Paul gets struck down on his way to Damascus. But that vision is in a significantly different category from the resurrection appearances. It is years later. Others with Paul see nothing.

Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe. Why?

Because the truly significant religious experiences are reserved for those who already have committed to the work. This is why a Quaker meeting for worship is different from sitting at home in your easy chair. There is an intention to meet the Christ spirit (or however you label that) in the silent waiting. The prayer, speak, for your servant is listening is the prior condition to hearing, not because God only speaks to the faithful, but because faith teaches us to know what it is we have heard.


Why is Thomas singled out for this object lesson? Is it because Thomas actually doubted and this is a record of that? Or was the spirituality of the gospel of Thomas already known by John and he saw it as a threat to his own community's faith?

And for myself. Like the Twin I want certitude before I step out in faith. John is telling me through Thomas that I must step into the darkness before I will see the light. I fear falling.

John 20:24-29

But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe."

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, Peace be with you. Then he said to Thomas, Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.

Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!"

Jesus said to him, Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.

August 20, 2005

Computer Is Back On Its Feet Again

I've just skimmed through the last week's postings and it sounds like some folks have delurked -- welcome one and all.

August 16, 2005

Compassion of Christ

Main Point: Jesus, to the gathered disciples, said, “Peace be with you,” and he imparts to the disciples the teaching that upon receiving the Holy Spirit sins are forgiven.

New Light: When Jesus says, “Peace be with you,” this was really a very beautiful moment of spiritual presence. I was just imagining being there, and hearing Jesus speak these words.

Truth: Peace is so descriptive of the feeling I have when I am aware of being in the presence of spirit. This feeling of peace, or as Thich Nhat Hanh would add, Being Peace, is so naturally conducive to forgiveness. To me, in such a moment, there is a wider understanding of the human condition, in which we recognize that although we are not perfect, we are reflected in the perfection of Spirit. To understand this is to bring great compassion upon oneself, and upon humankind.

Implications: Likely I read this scripture differently than most. Where the scripture says forgiveness of sins, I understand compassion for the human condition – with all its flaws and ignorance and innocence by which we separate ourselves emotionally from God. Forgiveness or compassion of this frailty comes with deep understanding of oneself as not separate from another. Whatever your sin is, that sin is also mine. With understanding, there is less need for judgment and incrimination. This deep level of understanding really leads to great compassion for all.

Problems: The literal phrase “Forgiveness of sins” continues to feel problematic for me. Forgiveness to me is not something only certain people can bestow, and it is not something that automatically wipes clean the slate of transgression. Forgiveness for me is not about telling a dark secret to someone and having it be held in utmost secrecy, however comfortable and trusting strict confidentiality might feel, because true reconcilliation involves compassionate action. Forgiveness to me is mostly about compassion – and I have felt this compassion strongly from individuals that were not motivated by these words of Jesus, though they always embody a strong presence of spirit. This generous concern motivates me to feel compassion toward myself and enables me to honestly extend this kind consideration toward others. Compassion gently invites me to higher ground as it bids me to be closer to, and in, God. This kind of compassion is from the consciousness of agape, love, perhaps divine love.

August 15, 2005

Forgiveness of Sins / C

"Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."

As you know, this passage has been used by the Catholic Church to justify the sacrament of penance (confession) ... Council of Trent. Though I'm a catholic, I've only bee to confession (or reconcilliation, as it's often called now) one time. My personal feeling is that forgiveness of sins is something that can be worked out between Jeus/God and oneself.

Still, there is somethingcompelling about the rite of confession ... it's been the subject of works of art, literature, film. One of my favorite movies :-), I Confess (1953) directed by Hithcock and starring Montgomery Clift, tells the tale of a catholic priest who hears the confession of a murderer ... he never reveals the identity of the killer or even that he knows of him, though he himself goes on trial for the murder. The idea that there is someone with whom you can share your darkest innermost thoughts/deeds, without fear of such info going any farther, is not only attractive, but carries the possibility of profound healing.

August 14, 2005

Forgiveness of Sins

This is not a very big subject among Quakers. Sin is not a big subject there. Why? because too many of us got out minds choked by 'jacklegged preachers' threatening us with hell; so it's become a dead issue.

But, not just a Quaker, sin is a real issue with me. Likewise forgiveness: Blake said it best "throughout Eternity I forgive you; you forgive me." It's the basic interpersonal dimension of Christianity. It's the work of the Holy Spirit whenever we let it happen. When we refuse, we block God's work.

God is love; loving, at least a big part of it, is forgiving. To forgive is that of God in us.

August 13, 2005


I made the long trek over rugged mountains to consult with the Wizards of Geek. I have been advised to bring my ailing computer in for them to perform whatever arcane rites computer type wizards perform in their dark palaces. I am told these rituals involve vacuuming dust bunnies and feeding RAMs. I secretly believe they will spend five days of fasting and incantations whispered in dead languages.

In any event I will be without benefit of a computer for five (5) business days. You are unlikely to hear from me before next Friday.

We near the end of the gospel of John. It may be useful for folks to consider where we are with this project. Do we lay it down? Do we continue with another book? Do something else?

I personally found John VERY long and if we do something else I would prefers something shorter. But I'm open to being persuaded. There have also been a few folks who were more active in the past and feel less engaged now. If this is because this doesn't met their needs well and good. But if there is something we can do to make this place more welcoming or inclusive of their points of view I would appreciate hearing that too.

I feel the best Bible studies build a community together -- which I think has happened. But I also fear we have become too intellectual. This feeds something in me. But maybe not what the spirit wants feeding. But I'm also not sure whether that is a valid concern and if it is how to address that.

I guess what I'm saying is -- the end of this gospel is an opportunity for us to grow into something else if that's what we want. We can share what is important to each other hear to preserve it and also share what we would like to see different and try to make that happen.

No especial need to address this now. I'll raise this concern again when we're done with John. Just thought it might be could to start the pot simmering.

John 20:19-23

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you."

After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."

August 12, 2005

When Women Were Priests


Mary the Magdalene returns first to the tomb to honour their dead Teacher. She finds the tomb opened and empty. In her confusion she meets her resurrected Lord but doesn't recognize him until he calls her by name. He then directs her to not cling to him as he is not yet ascended but rather to go to the others and proclaim his resurrection.

Meanings and Questions

Folks seem to be leaning towards the Manichean approach here. He is a new creation and we cannot cling to his old physicality if we are to fully embrace the newness.

I'm not sure if this is going on here. All the gospels take great pains to demonstrate that Jesus is not just a spirit freed from the body but a somehow transformed body. Whether these accounts are literal and historical accounts or metaphors -- they are trying to say something about the early church's experience of the resurrection.

I have not yet ascended to the Father.

His transformation is not yet complete. He has more work to do. And maybe it is the physicality of Mary and his old life that is a temptation to him that is the concern. His work now is elsewhere and he cannot tarry.

Another possibility. Not the the clinging to the physical and but a clinging to the mystical. There are times in meeting for worship where the rise of meeting and the sudden busy-ness and activity seems to be a violation of the worship. I cling to the interior silence. Maybe Jesus is saying to Mary -- you have experienced something amazing here but you cannot stay -- rather this amazing thing needs to be integrated into your life you need to go out into the world and make this new knowledge bear fruit. You cannot hoard it in secret for yourself. The service begins when meeting for worship ends.

A last question. Not recognizing the resurrected Christ. This echoes the disciples on the road to Emmaus in Luke. Something is happening here. Not sure what. A part of it is that we meet the Resurrected Teacher in chance encounters on the road, in gardens, in ordinary places. And it is only when we hear him speak through those ordinary experiences that we recognize them to be meetings with God. Maybe we don't even recognize it until afterwards. Jesus disappears as soon as the disciples recognize him on the road. Sometimes we say, surely God was in this place and I did not know it. Sometimes I have no startling experience in prayer or worship. It feels dead and I feel like God has not touched me. Then days later -- Thursday perhaps. I become aware that I am responding to situations with greater grace and I see that God was working in me Sunday morning after all.

Jesus appears to Mary M

Main point
Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene as she is crying in sorrow for him at the empty tomb. Although Mary doesn’t recognize Jesus at first, when he says her name she at once knows he is her “Rabboni!” Jesus asks her not to hold on to him, but rather solicits her to go and tell the disciples that he is returning to God.

New light / Truth / Implications

The sequence of finding the empty tomb and then discovering the risen Christ seems significant. The empty tomb is such a rich symbol of the process of dying to self, becoming empty of self, becoming open, humble, and ready for the presence of God to fill you.

It also seems significant that Jesus asks Mary not to cling to him, but rather share the news with the disciples, which she did. One cannot truly share in the joy of the resurrection if one is clinging to the spent physical form. Indeed, it seems there is a big ‘letting go’ here on Mary’s part.

Grief blinds us to truth at times. We may see what we ordinarily do not see, and we may miss some of which we ordinarily see. Mary didn’t expect to see Jesus standing there in the garden, and therefore didn’t even recognize him. But upon hearing Jesus speak her name, she felt no doubt as to his presence.

I have felt this unmistakable feeling of something ethereal speaking my name – when there was no one nearby who was speaking to me. I don’t have any rational explanation for this; likely it is one of those experiences beyond what my thinking mind can comprehend. Maybe this was true for Mary in that moment. But she opens herself to this voice, and follows it.


Jesus told Mary “…I have not yet returned to the Father…tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” This language suggests that Jesus is en route, that his returning is a process, or a journey of sorts. I have read that the three days it took for Jesus to rise up is what is required to liberate the soul from the physical to the astral plane and then to the spiritual or causal plane. I don’t really understand this, and am not certain of the significance. What is your understanding of this process and its implication?

August 10, 2005

Do Not Hold Onto Me / C

main point
I see the main point to be, in Dylan Thomas' words, death shall have no dominion*.

new light
So much here to consider ... that Mary didn't expect Jesus to be resurrected and that to keep his remains company was the most she could hope for ...that she didn't recognise Jesus until he spoke her name ... that he didn't want her to cling to him. The risen Jesus was different.


That Mary was the first to see Jesus perhaps bodes well for women's authentic vocation. The fact that Mary didn't recognise Jesus may hint that we see what we expect to see, but that God can surprise us.

I don't very much like that Jesus asked Mary not to hold onto him. I guess this could be about the fact that their relationship would now be different, or it could be about a new role for her - apostle - spreading the good news. But if I were Mary, I think I would feel sad at this rebuff ... doubtless a sign of my spiritual immaturity :-)

* And Death Shall Have No Dominion
by: Dylan Thomas

And death shall have no dominion.
Dead mean naked they shall be one
With the man in the wind and the west moon;
When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,
They shall have stars at elbow and foot;
Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
Though lovers be lost love shall not;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
Under the windings of the sea
They lying long shall not die windily;
Twisting on racks when sinews give way,
Strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break;
Faith in their hands shall snap in two,
And the unicorn evils run them through;
Split all ends up they shan't crack;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
No more may gulls cry at their ears
Or waves break loud on the seashores;
Where blew a flower may a flower no more
Lift its head to the blows of the rain;
Through they be mad and dead as nails,
Heads of the characters hammer through daisies;
Break in the sun till the sun breaks down,
And death shall have no dominion.

John 20:11-18

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him." When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?" Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away." Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rabbouni!" (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, "Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord"; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

August 08, 2005

Resurrection / C

What strikes me is that all four gospels do not describe the actual resurrection ... we just see an empty tomb. The Gospel of Peter, a non-canonical gospel, gives more of a description, but I'm not sure how authentic it's considered to be.

Also, I think it's interesting that Mary, a woman, is the first to find the empty tomb ... that John(?) gets to the tomb before Peter ... that Peter enters the tomb first ... that John believes in the resurrection first.

Did the resurrection really happen? Does it matter? I'd say yes to both questions. Here's a page with biblical info on the resurrection by Felix Just sj. But to say it simply, I'll quote Paul ... And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.

Flesh and Spirit

This we've been waiting for: the Resurrection: what is it? what does it mean? How are we to think about it. There is room here for variety in the Christian faith. If one can only see in terms of matter, the Resurrection is a material event; for others it may be a spiritual event.

When you say literal, paraphrasing Bill Clinton we may ask in what sense? One may be literally true while it may or may not be materially, factually, historically true.

Like David did, I go to 1 Cor for insight on the thing:

"15:42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:
15:43 It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:
15:44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body."

Did Jesus arise a natural body? or a spiritual body? Plenty of room for disagreement here-- in love! For me it has to be an open question-- like Jonah in the belly of the whale.

Actually it is not central to my faith; the central thing is the appearance of Christ in the world, particularly in my heart.

Empty Tomb

Main point:

Jesus' tomb stands empty. As an especial aside -- its the women disciples -- those barely mentioned in the narrative of Jesus' life and teachings who are first witnesses of both the empty tomb and later of the risen Christ.

New light:

I have for some time noticed in the gospel of Mark -- a strong sense of the ironic. I am suddenly come to see in John a strong sense of the dramatic. He plays this scene out further than the other three and for dramatic effect I think.


Nope. No living tombs in my lived experience.

Even in a metaphorical sense. My resurrections have all been qualified ones. More like Lazarus still entangled in his burial clothes than Jesus with them lying neatly at the side. Resurrection on this side of eternity contains the promises of future deaths.


For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:21-23


Not really. One of the few passages in the scriptures I basically read literally.

August 07, 2005

Empty Tomb

Main point: The main point of this scripture seems to be the “Oh my gosh! He’s gone!” exclamation from Mary Magdalene and the disciples as they peered into the tomb and found it empty. Only the linen wrappings and the head cloth that had covered Jesus when he was buried remained, left like an empty cocoon as though Jesus had passed right through them. At first, the disciples think that someone took Jesus from the tomb. Then John, described here as ‘the other disciple,’ begins to believe that Jesus had risen.

New light: The way the story of the resurrection unfolds is parallel to the process one might go through in comprehending the resurrection. Upon first hearing of it the story seems impossible - like a deception, our thinking minds tell us this cannot be true. We read these lines more carefully, word-by-word to check the facts. We need to see it for ourselves. We compare it to the other Gospels. The words of Jesus predicting his own death and resurrection are remembered. The image of Lazarus, restored to life is recalled. In light of this, maybe this rising, however more amazing, is not so impossible to believe… especially when we feel the light of Christ alive in us.

Truth: It has been said that Jesus’ resurrection is fundamental to the Christian faith. For me this truth is not just about whether Jesus arose from the tomb, but rather Christ’s intentions and purpose become alive within us. Physical death was obviously not the end of Christ’s life. Christ’s life and teachings were dynamic; beyond time and culture, the wisdom and values live on when we become aware of Christ’s presence, the pure consciousness he embodied, breathing in us.

Implications: My guess is that many people have a hard time believing in the empty tomb. From rationality, this story does not match our expectations or experience. This is yet another story that must be brought to into an awareness beyond our thinking minds.

Problems: I read that the stone was not rolled out of the way so Jesus could get out – but rather so others could get in, to see that Jesus’ body was no longer there. Does anyone know any more about this?

John 20:1-10

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him." Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus' head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes.

August 01, 2005

Jesus' Burial / C

main point
I see this section being about the secret disciples who come out of the woodwork at Jesus' death.

new light
I had not remembered that Joseph went to ask Pilate for J's body. This would have been odd as he was a member of the group who wanted Jesus dead and as he wasn't a member of Jesus' family. And to reveal himself, even now, as a disciple of Jesus was probably against his interest. Why did he do it? Not because he knows Jesus will be resurrected and wants to be a part of that ... he must think, at this time, that Jesus is as dead as a door nail. Perhaps it is remorse for not having declared himself a disciple earlier?

Also I didn't remember that Nicodemus had bought tons of spices, the amount I've read that is more normal for annointing dead royalty than a common man, and that the tomb was new and had no other inhabitants - the tomb of a wealthy man.

These two men of stature, who had cared enough about their reputations earlier to hide their disciple-nes, now treat like a king the man that had died like a criminal.

If I had been one of the gospel writers, I think I would have said of these two secret disciples that they were a day late and a dollar short. But John describes Joseph as - a good and upright man

This situation reminds me of the parable of the landowner who hires laborers at different times during the day to work in the vineyards. Though some do a whole day's work and others only a few hours worth, all are paid the same wage. Joseph and Nicodemus are like the workers hired at the end of the day. Maybe if God's love for us is indeed unconditional, the expression "too little, too late" has no meaning for him :-)