Tuesday, January 17, 2017

J&J



John 1:29-42 (RSV)

The Lamb of God
29 The next day (John the Baptist) saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, for he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him; but for this I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John bore witness, “I saw the Spirit descend as a dove from heaven, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him; but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”

The First Disciples of Jesus
35 The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples; 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 Jesus turned, and saw them following, and said to them, “What do you seek?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39 He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying; and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. 40 One of the two who heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him, and said, “So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).

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Loaded, this is one of my favorite bits of scripture to worry over with a group of people such as a Sunday School class. With knowledgable scholars it can be, the word is “mined”, for all sorts of hints and ideas, which may come to mind in no particular order. A couple of points come to me this morning. This may be somewhat repetitive.

This is the Gospel according to John. Gospel John is fundamentally different to the synoptic gospels Mark, Matthew and Luke. In this first chapter, the gospel writer (tradition notwithstanding, I do not think the beloved disciple who at the end claims to have written this gospel, was “John”, and I can give evidence of that to my own satisfaction, but that’s not my lesson here) initiates a theme of his gospel agenda, Jesus as the Lamb of God. Gospel John brings it to a climax at 13:1, 19:14, 19:31 and 19:42 (and I may have missed some) when he takes the position, unlike the synoptic gospels, that the Last Supper was not the Passover Meal but before, and that Jesus was not killed on Passover afternoon, but on the Day of Preparation for the Passover when the lambs were slaughtered, with Jesus slaughtered before Passover along with the other lambs, making Jesus the Lamb of God. This is intriguing, subtle, and really neat. And it shows a significant text variation between Gospel John and the synoptic gospels in which the Last Supper is the Passover Meal and Jesus is killed on the Passover. It is significant for Gospel John that Jesus is the sacrificial lamb of Passover. 

An early feature of Gospel John is that, unlike the synoptic stories of Jesus calling Peter and Andrew, James and John away from their boats and nets on the seashore, Jesus’ first disciples are two who leave the discipleship of John the Baptist to follow Jesus, one being Andrew; and that Andrew went and found his brother Simon (Cephas, Peter) and led him to Christ. This is pretty clear in Gospel John, who also tells it different that Andrew appears later to help Jesus at the Feeding of the Five Thousand (a story that appears in all four canonical gospels, but which for Gospel John is noticeably, even theologically, different).    

Also I like to note that whereas we seem always to call Peter “seephas”, John’s NT Greek word is Κηφᾶς (“kayphas” not “seephas”). Martin Luther also gets it, “du sollst Kephas heißen”. A newer German translation has it “du sollst Kephas heißen (das heißt übersetzt: »ein Stein«) (thou shalt be called Kephas (that’s called, translated, ‘a stone.’” I like to pronounce Cephas as kayphas, not as seephas, seefas.

Inconsistencies? Anyone who does not delight in inconsistencies probably ought not to be an Episcopalian, an Anglican. The place is full of inconsistencies, and inconsistency doesn’t bother us in the least, in fact, we like it that way: unsure, indefinite, uncertain, arguable.

Perusing images of Jesus and John Baptist, I came across this one of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth, John’s mother in the Galilean hill country. Mary's dressed in blue. The fetal Jesus bestows his blessing of the sign of the cross upon his kinsman John, who kneels in obeisance. Someone may know who's peeking out from behind the curtain.



DThos+ in Stoppage Time



Tuesday sunrise from 7H



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