Thursday, March 13, 2014

Love On John's Terms (part 25)

Not only does this remind the observer of the fact that the setting in which Jesus is presented as speaking is the same setting in which He has given sight and standing within the covenant community (no longer ostracized) to the man blind from birth (who was looked upon as cursed---much like a Gentile), but it also informs the same observer that the author is reaching back even further, tying this event to the events recorded in the seventh chapter of the Gospel, which is the point of commencement of this particular portion of John’s wider narrative. 

There, Jesus is reported to have said “My teaching is not from Me, but from the one who sent Me.  If anyone wants to do God’s will, He will know about My teaching, whether it is from God or whether I speak from My own authority” (7:16b-17).  This dovetails quite nicely with the Father language of the tenth chapter.  In the seventh chapter, in conjunction with His words about God, Jesus says “Hasn’t Moses given you the law?  Yet not one of you keeps the law!  Why do you want to kill me?” (7:19)  In the tenth chapter, Jesus speaks of laying down His life. 

Following His accusation that there are those that want to kill Him in chapter seven, the crowd responds by saying “You’re possessed by a demon!” (7:20b).  In chapter ten, the author presents the conclusion of a similar pattern, with the aforementioned reference to accusations that Jesus is possessed by a demon.  Back to the seventh chapter, one finds “Then some of the residents of Jerusalem began to say, ‘Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill?’” (7:25), which will ultimately, within this story, culminate with Jesus’ declaration that He is willing to lay down His own life---no man takes it from Him.  From that point, an interesting exchange commences, with a back and forth between and amongst Jesus, the Pharisees, and the Jewish leaders. 

Keeping in mind the close of the scene in chapter ten, questions are raised about the geographic location from which Jesus has sprung.  Questions about His pedigree are raised because He is believed to be from Galilee, and it is said that “no prophet comes from Galilee” (7:52b).  When this is considered, one must not forget this use of “prophet” in John and its connection to Moses.  Jesus responds to this challenge by speaking of Himself as “the light of the world” (8:12b), apparently contrasting following Him with living a life of darkness.  Darkness, of course, could easily be a euphemism for blindness. 

Shortly thereafter, Jesus begins making repeated references to His “Father,” which will set the tone for its use in the tenth chapter, which forms part of this same extended story.  Also, the issue of the possibility of Jesus killing Himself is raised (8:22), which is answered by Jesus’ firm declaration in the tenth chapter that He will lay down His own life, with the ability to lay it down and take it up again.  Because of what precedes that statement, which was His referencing false messiahs, which would remind His hearers of those who had had their lives snuffed out by the enemies of the Creator God’s people, the issue of whether or not Jesus may take His own life is put to rest. 

In the forty-eighth and fifty-second verses of the eighth chapter, Jesus is once again accused of being possessed by a demon, which adequately continues the narrative flow, reminding the hearer of John’s story about what has been heard to this point.  Though He leaves the Temple area, the events of the ninth chapter, in which the man born blind is healed, informs the reader that the story begun in the seventh chapter is continuing.  The query of “A demon cannot cause the blind to see, can it?” is an overt reminder of the healing of the blind man, along with being a reminder of the exchange between Jesus and some of the Pharisees in which sight and blindness are discussed (9:39-41). 

This also serves as a reminder (along with the other things that have been pointed out in these recent paragraphs) that these several chapters are designed to hang together to form a unified treatment within a larger unified treatment, with the exaltation of the ethic of love as displayed by the Christ and by Israel’s God through His Christ (the mentions of miraculous signs come to mind) as that which is intended to predominate the inter-personal relationships of the covenant bearers, as well as their relationships with the wider world (those whom the Creator God also loves and seeks to bring in to His covenant family as part of His restoration of His once good creation). 

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