The Wine of Joy

This post is for our Lightworker’s Study of the Gospel of John. On the left, click the folder icon, then sign up.  

John #23

John 2:1-11 (Text is reproduced at the end of this post)

Gospel of John 

Hello Lightworkers,  We move ahead to John 2, where Jesus performs his first miracle or sign (John 2:11). The Gospel calls Jesus’s miracles “signs”, which is also the Old Testament (i.e., the Hebrew Bible) term for the miracles of Moses.

At a wedding party in Cana of Galilee, Jesus turns water into wine. The water is contained within six stone jars for the Jewish rites of purification (2:6).  Note, here, that Jesus is himself a Jew. So, although the scene suggests that the new “wine” of Jesus replaces the old water of Jewish purification, in fact no super-cessionist or replacement theology is required. Jesus here is a Jewish prophet not a Christian god.

According to John, Jesus is also more than a prophet. He is the divine Bridegroom. The spiritual message, as I see it, has nothing to do with religious politics or sectarian disagreements: once the divine Bridegroom is present, enjoy the wine. You don’t need to keep purifying yourself, or waiting for the bliss to come. Religions, in general, often put people through rituals – for purification or as a means to an end, so that one will later on…meet and experience God, once one is holy enough or pure.

What if God has already arrived but we are in church so we miss it?  Drink the wine now.

The Wedding at Cana John 2:1-11
2 On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6 Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. 9 When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

Jacob’s Ladder: music, mysticism, marvel

John #22 

Hello, Lightworkers:

Today I’ll refer you to some different perspectives about this fascinating text in the Gospel of John, pertaining to the ladder that extends from earth to heaven. What is this ladder?

John 1: 51 (Jesus’s saying) alludes to Jacob’s ladder in Genesis 28:12 (Jacob’s dream)

John 1:51: “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

Genesis 28:12 “He dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.”

1. Jewish Mysticism – Kabbalah: Jacob’s Ladder as Prayer :

Kabbalah on Jacob’s Ladder

2. Here is a good article, summarizing Christian interpretation:

Christian Interpretation Jacob’s Ladder

3. African American Spirituals (see links below )

a) Angelic Choir

b) World War II Recruitment Film

c) Here is a Scottish Male Choir, singing the African American Spiritual   We are Climbing Jacob’s Ladder: African American Spiritual

4. Esoteric: Lecture by Manly Hall: The Physical dimension is a manifestation of an Invisible dimension. So taught Manly Hall, an esotericist and mystic.

Happy Mary Magdalene’s Feast Day: July 22

Hello All,

Happy Mary Magdalene’s Feast Day, July 22!  Notice from these passages in the Gospels that Mary Magdalene is :

  1. Witness at the Cross
  2. At the tomb
  3. Witness/Apostle to the Resurrection (the first to see the Risen Jesus)
  4. In some traditions, she is exorcised of demons by Jesus – and she may have been among the women who supported Jesus financially

Here are the relevant passages:

MARK 15:40, 47:

After death of Jesus and revelation of Jesus as Son of God, Mary Magdalene comes on the scene as WITNESS

39 And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died,[c] he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”

40 Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph,[d] and Salome.

See also Matthew 27:56

Then Mary Magdalene sees where Jesus is laid in the tomb:

46 So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid.

See also Matthew 27:61

BURIAL : ANOINTING

Mark 16:1, 9:Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body.

FIRST WITNESS TO RESURRECTION

16:9: When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons.

See also Matthew 28:1

And Luke 8:2

This verse elaborates on Mary Magdalene’s exorcism: She is accompanying Jesus, perhaps among those women who provide for Jesus financially (8:3)

8:2 “as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out”

Luke 8:1-3 Soon afterwards he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, 2 as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, 3 and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them[a] out of their resources.

The Gospel of John elaborates the role of Mary Magdalene:

At the cross:

John 19:25 – “And that is what the soldiers did. Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.”

At the tomb, where she meets the Risen Jesus

John 20:1 “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.”

(John omits burial anointing by Mary but includes tomb scene– see the entire dialogue in John 20)

John 20:11 “But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb”

Witness to the Risen Jesus

John 20:18: “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.

Angels Descending/Ascending on our Behalf

Gospel of John #21

John 1:43-51 (Note that the text is reproduced at the end of this post)

Hello Lightworkers,

This scene continues the so-called “call narratives,” where the disciples are called to follow Jesus. The attitudes toward Jesus of Philip and Nathanael are contrasting. Philip immediately recognizes that Jesus embodies the very Messiah, or anointed leader (the Christ), that Jewish tradition and scriptures predict.  Nathanael, in turn, is skeptical : “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (1:46).

Yet, when Jesus performs a simple feat of telepathy or clairvoyance — revealing that by a sixth sense, he has seen Nathanael sitting under a fig tree — Nathanael makes a sudden about-face, declaring that Jesus must be the Son of God and King of Israel. Note: Son of God was the title for the Roman emperor.

Nathanael has set his sights far too low. Jesus is appointed not merely to perform magical tricks — of telepathy or the like — nor is he merely a King, like the Roman emperor. Jesus is instead appointed to a more significant role as the Son of Man. He will open a pathway between heaven and earth, on which angels may ascend and descend.

One simple message of this passage is that heavenly things come in humble packages. In fact, our own humble attire – and vulnerability – may be hard for us to embrace and reveal to others, particularly when our needs are urgent and held closely to our hearts.

How would you like somebody to say to you, “Can anything good come out of XXXX?” where XXXX substitutes for your hometown, your workplace, or some other identifying characteristic of yourself?

Spiritually, however, to receive the Christ, who is compassion and truth, sometimes we are lowered, like servants, in the opinion of others. We may look foolish and lose our self-esteem. When others assist us — while in this humble or humiliating predicament– we receive the Christ and gain that much more faith in life itself.

Through such ordinary means and measures, heaven opens.  The angels descend and ascend on our behalf.

Text: Jesus Calls Philip and Nathanael
43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47 When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” 49 Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you,[m] you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

Note on biblical inerrancy

stock-vector-christian-bible-dove-concept-white-dove-representing-the-holy-spirit-flying-out-of-the-bible-130384721Gospel of John #20

Hello Lightworkers,

Some heated remarks — and debates – take place concerning biblical literalism or inerrancy. Here’s a quick idea to provoke insight and debate.

In my view, the theology of the cross from the New Testament actually disrupts biblical inerrancy. For instance, in the Gospel of John, Jesus’s miracles and teachings are life-giving, while the opposition to them is fueled by a kind of biblical literalism and deadening religious orthodoxy.

(On this: see John 7 , especially 7:24: “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” To judge by appearances is to judge according to mechanistic adaptations of the law of Moses and scriptures).

The anti-Jewish tendencies of the scripture should be repudiated, in turn — lest we ourselves lapse into a fanaticism based on the letter of the text. The Jews, in the Gospel of John, are the bad-guys, caricatured to display what not to do–(even though Jesus himself was Jewish).  The Jesus movement in its early days constituted a branch or sect of Judaism. The disciples of Jesus were both Jews and Gentiles —  not yet “Christians,” nor was their religion one that supplanted its own Jewish ancestry.

The theological message remains vital. The life-giving presence of God –through miracles, teachings, etc. – disrupts religious structures that are based on conformity to doctrine or to the letter of the law. Extreme biblical literalism collapses if we soak in this presence of the Christ.

 

 

Like Recognizes Like (your heart knows)

John #19 

John 1:35-42 : the text is reproduced at the end of this post

Hello Lightworkers,

Notice that the disciples, upon meeting Jesus, instantly desire to follow him. Jesus, in turn, invites them with hospitality to “Come and see” where he is staying.

The words “remain” and “stay” (the same in Greek) indicate, in John’s Gospel, a quality of presence to God or the Spirit, through “abiding”.  Where Jesus is staying is in the presence of God. The disciples seek that same presence.

One of them (Andrew) recognizes, immediately, that Jesus is the Messiah. In contrast, the enemies of Jesus (in the story) question – and test – whether Jesus fits their religious criteria as to the identity of the Messiah (God’s anointed one), criteria given through scripture and traditions.

On a spiritual level, we may understand the interrogation by the religious leaders, as to Jesus’s credentials, as evidence of how the mind (with its expectations and criteria) struggles to make sense of what is new, which cannot be confined by concepts.

This story demonstrates, symbolically, that the presence of God or the Christ (i.e. Christ = Messiah = the anointed one) resonates with the being and heart.  We share the same nature as Christ. Like recognizes like.

If we turn against our own nature — a self-betrayal symbolized by the persecution of Christ by enemies — then we are hostile to a person (here, Christ) who embodies this Spirit, which we ourselves reject.

Jesus Christ is the light-bearer, the one who shows us ourselves, as if in a mirror. In their eagerness to follow Jesus, the disciples demonstrate their hospitality to the God principle, in themselves and in the world. They give priority to that Spirit, above all else.

Question: Where does the Spirit reside for you, so that you will instinctively follow? What would you drop everything in order to do? Who would you follow, with self-abandon and utter assurance?

The First Disciples of Jesus
35 The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39 He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. 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 is translated Anointed[j]). 42 He brought Simon[k] to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter[l]).

The Dove : Visions

 

Gospel of John #18

John 1: 29-34 (the biblical text is reproduced below this post)

Hello Lightworkers,

In today’s passage, John the Baptist — who has been preaching in Israel — recognizes Jesus as the Lamb of God. John is able to identify Jesus because of a vision: the Spirit descends on Jesus like a dove (v.32).

The dove, denoting innocence and purity, remains upon Jesus Christ. John the Baptist provides baptism by water (for repentance and forgiveness), while Jesus offers a baptism by the holy spirit signified by the dove . This baptism will be available to all.

What does baptism by the holy spirit mean? The dove represents your own purity of heart, innocence, and receptivity to the Spirit. The dove remains with you:  holiness in life–sincerity, joy, freedom–are available.  Pain may come and go, but suffering need not be protracted and agonizing.

This baptism by the holy spirit depends on John’s baptism by water — since repentance (or turning toward God and away from evil) is the precondition for spiritual gifts. Or, put another way, though the dove may descend upon you, you will likely swat it away if evil or a lack of forgiveness dominate your consciousness.

The dove represents a capacity of vision and to be guided by the Soul through intuition, prayer/ meditation, and other symbolic means.  We are offered another compass for navigating life besides human convention and the value systems of the world. This compass — or dove — leads us on paths for our fulfillment, so long as we learn its habits and ways.

Note: The word “remain”, here, is a Johannine motif, indicating a quality of spiritual life. If we remain in God — if we abide in God — we are hidden from the world, in a sense, because we are contained within a bigger mystery of existence, which may not be clear and obvious to others. By abiding in God, we are patient and constant, while sometimes spontaneous and changeable, if circumstances require.

Question: Where is the dove present for you? What do you make of the Lamb imagery in relation to the dove?

TEXT
29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is 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 ahead of me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.”

black-and-white-picture-of-a-white-dove2

image courtesy of http://www.showmedoves.com