Lectionary Year A
May 19, 2002
John 20:19-23 or 7:37-39
Pentecost Sunday


John 7:37-39


Pre:       There was great division among the people at the festival. Jesus was definitely the "hot topic." Some wanted to believe that he was the Messiah, but their fear of the Jews and their uncertainty about the origin of the Messiah prevented them from making outright professions of faith. Even Jesus' brothers, at the beginning of chapter 7 ridicule him and give him suggestions as to how he ought to proceed. Jesus answers that his time has not yet come and that he will stay away from the festival. Nevertheless, he goes in secret, only to reveal himself by teaching in the temple, claiming the place traditionally associated only with the great teachers of the Law.

Post:       Ironically, the officers sent to arrest Jesus fail to follow through with their task. It's not that they were afraid of the crowd, as the Jews sometimes were, but rather that they were impressed by Jesus' teaching.
      Becoming Jesus' follower then, as now, is made difficult by our preconceived notions that prevent us from allowing our hearts to lead us. Many of us can say, as with the crowds in Jerusalem, "He's not what I expected, but he is authoritative. His teachings and his witness are indeed compelling. If only I could let go of this nagging doubt!"
      An interesting point can be found in Nicodemus' ongoing conversion in vs 50. Nicodemus wanted to give Jesus a fair hearing indicating not only his own interest but his concerns that the Council had been consumed by their anger against Jesus and were now neglecting even their own laws in their pursuit of Jesus.
      I am reminded of Paul's insistence on his Roman citizenship and his right for a fair trial in Acts 22:25.
      In what ways are we so consumed with our own sense of righteousness when we are convicted in our own hearts of our sins by the Holy Spirit? Was this what was happening to the Jews who wanted to kill Jesus?

John 20:19-23 or 7:37-39


      John's differences with the synoptics: no account of the birth of Jesus, baptism, temptation, Last Supper, Gethsemane, or the ascension. No parable stories or healings of demoniacs. In John, Jesus' speeches are often a whole chapter long.
      The facts of the life and ministry of Jesus are different in John. The design of the gospel as a whole is stated by the author in 20:31. Therefore, what is told in this account of Jesus' life and ministry reveals Jesus as Messiah, Son of God. God is revealed in Jesus Christ. Jesus provided access to God in ways never before possible. The frequent "I am" statements by Jesus in this gospel are a radical claim that Jesus is God incarnate.

      The structure of this gospel is often broken down into two parts:
           Chapters   1-12 the book of signs
           Chapters 13-20 the book of glory


      This gospel was known in Egypt by 100 A.D (from P52). Its first commentary was written by Heracleon around 150. John was most likely written at Ephesus, also maybe Antioch or Alexandria. This gospel is an anonymous document. Tradition claims (Irenaeus) the author as John the "Son of Zebedee", the apostle. Many scholars believe it was composed by a disciple of John who recorded his preaching. The author was a Jewish Christian who wrote for and in a Jewish Christian community in conflict with synagogue authorities.

      The vast majority of converts were now from Hellenistic not Jewish backgrounds. A crisis may have precipitated the writing of this gospel: possibly the "putting out of the synagogue" or excommunication as heretics for those who practiced alternative forms of Judaism (e.g. belief in Jesus). There are certainly Greek and Gnostic influences in 1st century Judaism. The work of Philo is one example. Shades of both these influences, consistant with the religious diversity of the 1st century Mediterranean world, can be seen in John's writing.

(Kummel, Intro to the NT, pp. 168-174)

a. Beginning with Irenaeus, many have thought the author to be John son of Zebedee, "the disciple of the Lord", who published the Gospel in the first century A.D. while in Ephesus.

b. Many modern commentators doubt this, pointing to lack of coverage in the fourth Gospel of events involving the sons of Zebedee which are prominent in the Synoptic gospels.

c. Who knows? Kummel argues that the only fairly certain thesis is that the author at least had close contact with a Palestinian Christian who had had some kind of participation in the Passion history of Jesus.

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