Riddles

John 1  —  #5

Hello Lightworkers, who understand mysteries, and what it’s like to mystify others.  Some of you, my spiritual friends, tell me that you feel as if you belong to an exclusive club. The mainstream does not understand your spiritual gifts. Yet, when you meet someone who does “get” you, it is like you are family. There is a soul resonance.

The Gospel of John portrays this predicament through the literary device of riddles. Some people do “get” who Jesus is, as a divine being, while the majority do not. The life of God mystifies the mainstream.

From the start in the Gospel of John, chapter 1, while John the Baptist announces that the “true light” is coming into the world, there is a mystery about Jesus’s identity.  Who would imagine that the “true light” could be a person?  We learn later (1:45; v. 49) that this “true light” is Jesus of Nazareth.

A group of disciples, like John the Baptist and Nathanael, do recognize Jesus’s identity — they are like an exclusive soul-club.

John keeps going the mystery of Jesus’s identity.  In chapter 2, at a wedding feast, the guests run out of wine. To IMG_20161008_160600544 everybody’s surprise, Jesus manages to perform a miracle by turning water into  wine.  Only Jesus’s mother (John 2:5) recognizes, in advance, that her son, Jesus, has superhuman powers. He can work “signs”, i.e. miracles.

John keeps the riddle of Jesus’s identity going throughout the book—teasing us, in a sense, so that we ask of Jesus – just as Jesus’s townsfolk did – “Is this really Joseph’s son?” (John 6:42) In other words: is he really a human being? or somehow mightier than that?

In spiritual life and literature, riddles bypass the mind, appealing directly to the heart or spirit, since the mind cannot figure out a riddle. John’s Gospel is full of riddles, which can pull us into the life of the Spirit, beyond logic and reason.

Consider: What’s the function of riddles? Something that looks like it means one thing, only to turn and twist so that it means something else?

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Multiple Not Single

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Gospel: #4: Many perspectives, not single answers

Hello Lightworkers,

Question for today: sometimes we think of God as an authority who has, tucked up His almighty sleeves, “all the answers.” The Bible, accordingly, is regarded as a rule book, which has “all the answers.”

Supposedly, “all the answers” means some singular truth, which cannot be disputed. Sometimes, it is true, there are single answers. However, by and large, life is complicated and nuanced not simple – multi-colored rather than monochrome and more like a dialogue than a monologue.

If the Bible is “God’s book”, is God speaking a monologue, which gives “all the answers”? or instead, a dialogue, so that we may answer back and co-create its meaning?

This matter of diversity pertains to the New Testament (NT) itself since, within the NT, there are multiple accounts of the significant event, which is its theme: the life of Jesus, and his death/crucifixion and resurrection.

John is one of four gospels (as literary genre), in the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John), while the New Testament contains 27 writings as a whole.

Question: in what way does God  or the Spirit have “all the answers,” and how does s/he invite dialogue, or both? How does the Bible fit into this question for you? Since the Bible purports to be a book about God, what kind of God does it claim to speak about?


 

A biography of God

Gospel of John: #3: A biography of God?

Hello Lightworkers, and all of you who are intrigued by the life of the Spirit.

Consider: you have a life on earth, constituted by your biography (your parents, upbringing, society, culture). You also have a life in the Spirit, which may be for you quite different.

How would you speak about these different levels and layers or yourself? How tell your own spiritual autobiography — or render it in non-verbal ways?

Today I suggest that John’s story of Jesus Christ gets at these two different dimensions of biography, the human and the spiritual.

As I was saying, yesterday: the literary genre of gospel combines biography (i.e., the story of a human life) with a missionary tract, i.e. persuasive rhetoric, intended to inspire others to enter into spiritual life.

The Gospels of Matthew and Luke start with the birth of Jesus to human parents, similar to a biography, while the Gospel of John begins (John 1:1) at the beginning of creation (alluding to Genesis 1) – well before Jesus, as a human being, was born. John shows by this starting point that Jesus is more than a human being. He is the divine Word.

It is not until chapter 1 verse 17 (arguably) or chapter 1:29 or 1:45 (definitely) that we are introduced to Jesus by name. In 1:45 Jesus is identified, in human terms, as “Jesus, son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Place-names were often used to identify people (e.g. Mary Magdalene is Mary from Magdala).

Before that, we learn of Jesus that he is the Word (1:1) and the “true light” (1: 9) , the life (1:4) and the “lamb of God” (1:29). These exalted titles indicate that if this is biography, it is a biography not of a mere mortal, perhaps, but of God, the divine self.

Consider: How would you communicate about the Life of God? and about your life in the spirit? What exalted titles pertain to the Spirit within you, magnificent and true?

Note before we begin: 

HI ALL,  This study of the Gospel of John will last for approximately 40 days — of posts several times per week. After that, I may take it all down. So Congratulations on participating in this new thing. If you prefer to receive the posts in Weekly digest form, go to the Subscription Management page on Word Press to change settings accordingly.  

*Set an intention about what you’d like to get out of this and comment below, if you like* . Looking forward to hearing from you. 

 

Good news

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Gospel: #2: good news

Hello, Lightworkers:

We are going to do our Bible Study about the Gospel of John. Here is some basic info, to get us started.

The word “gospel” in Greek (the original language of the New Testament) means “good news,” while the literary genre of gospel combines biography (i.e., the story of a life) with a missionary tract, i.e. persuasive rhetoric, intended to inspire and convert others. The audience is meant to embrace the spiritual message of the gospel as “good news” — hence, the name of the genre.

This point merits some consideration. Whether or not we agree, in the end, that the gospel is “good news”– after reading through all the Gospel accounts in the New Testament (i.e. Mark, Matthew, Luke, John)–still it is remarkable that the New Testament puts right up front its claim to be “good news”.

Spirituality, as I see it, is not intended to be dour, gloomy, or guilt-inducing, nor somber, solemn, sobering. Although there are struggles, spirituality can give joy, peace and freedom -in its essence.  Joy may be like a fountain (see John 4), a bubbling up of life: ebullient, effervescent, and infectious.

Why else write this story, – or  a spiritual tract of any kind – unless it will be “good news,” the realization of hopes, a solution, a source of celebration?

Hope your day is full of joy and good news!

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