Rebirth into Joy, Dying to Perfectionism

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Gospel of John #38 : John 6: 52b-53; “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.John 6: 60-64 60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” 61 But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But among you there are some who do not believe.”

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Who can accept that Jesus (infused with the Spirit of God) should die and his flesh and blood be ingested by the disciples? Or that we, in imitation of Jesus, must “die” to the flesh, ourselves, in order to be reborn in the Spirit? How may we understand this death and rebirth, a doctrine that lies at the center of Christian spirituality?

I will discuss this death/rebirth dynamic, first, as it pertains to our spiritual lives and secondly, as it pertains to the life of Jesus, who models the way to God.

Death and Rebirth in our Spiritual Lives

Our own death to the self can be experienced as a rebirth into joy and wellbeing, particularly if the self that needs to die is constructed of painful tendencies and destructive personality dynamics.

Many are consumed by self-criticism, for instance, which leads to depression. We seek that “perfect” life and a fully meritorious way of being in the world. The vulnerability of Life seems like a rude error.  Denying the prospect of suffering, failure, injustice, or struggle, we desperately try to create a facade of perfection, which becomes a counterfeit self, a false identity. (See this article: Perfectionism and Depression)

The false self– which is enslaved to counterfeit values (such as criticism and perfectionism)– can lead to death. Where there’s excessive criticism, which is neither constructive nor conducive to growth, how can we love?  Once we are impeded in love, we lose joy and well-being –which, in turn, can make us sick and die in the soul. The soul’s death leads to disease in the body.

If we are courageous enough to allow the false self to die– and its perfectionism and criticism to be demolished– we may enter more fully into the life of God (who is Life and Love). The death of the false self may hurt; one may even mourn this imposter once he or she is gone. New Life takes the place of death, however, a LIFE that is without boundaries. We then honor LIFE itself in whatever guise that Life takes and in whatever form that Life shows up. In short, the death of the false self liberates our lives so that we may be taken up in Spirit–in a kind of ascension of our own–to experience life in God.

The Death of Jesus

As this passage in John indicates, to accept the difficult teaching (that Jesus must die and be consumed) is to honor the Son of Man, while the one who does not believe (namely, Judas) betrays him.

Difficult teaching: Jesus Christ claims that one must ingest his very body as bread and drink his blood, in order to discover the life of God within oneself. This suggestion of cannibalism (see previous post in this series #37) is offensive to his audience.  Death is implied as a preliminary to this feast.

If Jesus is merely a human being, then he commits blasphemy (as his accusers suppose) for his claim of being not just a prophet (like Moses whose people received bread in the desert) but instead of the same substance as the Father God, i.e. “the heavenly bread”. Jesus claims union with God which would be offensive for a mere mortal (according to his accusers).

If Jesus is in fact divine, then it is difficult to understand how the divine (who is Spirit) must die like a human being in order for his flesh to be consumed. What a bizarre notion! That one should feed on the body of God and drink his blood. Gods do not normally have bodies.

Death of God as a Model for our own Spiritual Death and Rebirth

Consider, though, what we gain when we ingest the body and blood of Christ. The false self having fallen away, we feed upon an expanded awareness of divine Life as a spiritual reality, beyond the boundaries of the flesh or the ego (the false self).

As Rumi the poet says, the thing that seems most bizarre and difficult may be a guide from beyond to be welcomed, the Messenger who brings a gift to the guest house. In the guesthouse, which is our hearts, we relish the joy of Life however Life shows up. Such is Life in the Spirit: abundant and omnipresent.

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

— Jellaludin Rumi,

 

 

Cannibalism – Jesus movement

Gospel of John #37  : Text of passage (6:60-71) is reproduced below

After Jesus claims in John 6 that his own body (flesh) and his blood must be ingested, in order for people to gain eternal life, many are aghast at this claim.  John’s Gospel likely reflects the charges, against early Christians, of human sacrifice, combined with cannibalism.

(Reproduced below is an excerpt from an article about this stereotyped accusation, which was directed against Christians in the early period. The counter-accusation, in turn, alleged the same vulgarity of pagans in their religious rituals. You will find, too, a link to the entire article by J. Rives, a Roman historian. See also the link to a contemporary article about religious rituals and cannibalism).

The Gospel counters this charge by the suggestion that the life of God is Spirit not flesh (v.63). Thus, cannibalism does not pertain to God. Because Jesus embodies God, he will not die but instead ascend (v. 62). Furthermore, those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God, based on his works (e.g. miracles) and teachings, will ascertain the truth of his words, which are filled with spirit and life (v.63).

Only a few can understand this strange claim about Jesus’s stature and mission, which (to outsiders) entails cannibalism. Those who do understand that Jesus’s life is divine, and his mission bestowed directly by God, continue to follow him. For, as Peter recognizes, “You have the words of eternal life” (v.68b).

The idea that a man’s own body must be eaten — as flesh and blood — does sound bizarre and repulsive. It is only if we accept the theological claim of the Gospel of John that the idea may become palatable. For by “eating”  the bread of heaven, and drinking the blood of God, we do not eat human flesh like cannibals. Instead, we partake directly in God’s Spirit, which offers freedom, eternal life, and Love.

Question: If you were among the original audience for this speech, what would your reaction have been? 

Early Christians accused of human sacrifice and cannibalism

HUMAN SACRIFICE AMONG PAGANS AND CHRISTIANS By J. RIVES

(excerpt, introduction for complete article see: Human Sacrifice Pagans and Early Christians through JSTOR — copy may be downloaded for free through public library databases) 

In Minucius Felix’ dialogue on the value of Christianity, written in the late second or early third century C.E.,1 the character Caecilius, who presents the anti-Christian arguments, recounts a story about their initiations, ‘a story as loathsome as it is well known’: after the initiate has struck a baby concealed under a covering of flour, those present drink the blood from its wounds and so seal their union (Oct. 9.5). Later in the dialogue, Octavius, the defender of Christianity, refutes this slander. The alleged crime, he argues, is so terrible that ‘no one could believe it except the sort of person who would attempt it’. He goes on to point out that pagans, not Christians, are the ones who practise actual human sacrifice. He supports his claim by citing specific examples: the Africans who used to sacrifice their children to Saturn, the Taurians and the Egyptian Busiris who sacrificed foreigners, the Gauls, and lastly the Romans themselves, who in the past would bury alive two Greeks and two Gauls and who in his own day sacrifice men to Jupiter Latiaris (Oct. 30. I) .

Although Caecilius describes the story he tells about the Christians as a notafabula, it is somewhat difficult to determine exactly how widely known it was. Virtually every Christian apologist between i so and 200 C.E. refers to the charge, but the evidence from the pagan side is much less extensive.2 After investigating the activities of Christians in Bithynia, the younger Pliny notes in his report to Trajan that they gather together ‘to take food, food that is ordinary enough and harmless’ (Ep. X.96.7). The appended qualification suggests that in the i iOS Pliny had already heard some version of these stories, and took them seriously enough to make inquiries.3 Some years later, Fronto had heard enough about the charges to elaborate on them in a speech.4 Later still, the citizens of Lugdunum who instituted a persecution of local Christians in I77 C.E. were apparently convinced of their truth, since they tried thro torture to make one woman confess to such deeds (Eus., HE v. I.26). although the evidence is scanty, there is enough to suggest that at least some pagans both knew and believed these stories.

See Link: Cargo Cults Accused of Cannibalism

John 6: 60- 71

60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” 61 But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But among you there are some who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him. 65 And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.”

66 Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. 67 So Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” 70 Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve? Yet one of you is a devil.” 71 He was speaking of Judas son of Simon Iscariot, for he, though one of the twelve, was going to betray him.

 

Bread of Heaven

This post belongs to our study of the Gospel of John. Please see the side menu to review the previous posts. The text of John 6: 16-59 is reproduced below.

Gospel of John study #36

Hi All,

In the last post, we looked at John 6: 1-15. Jesus feeds a crowd by his bread miracle.  On this basis, the crowds wish to make him King. They see him as the expected “prophet like Moses,” a figure in Judaism of the time who was regarded as God’s appointed servant, worthy to rule.  Jesus refuses the role, just as he refuses the devil’s temptation of turning stones into bread. The devil understands that the one who possesses storehouses of food, in times of famine, can rule over and subjugate hungry hordes.

Yes, Jesus will multiply bread to feed people, in generosity and service, and to demonstrate the unlimited creative power of God.  Yet, Jesus will not make use of his miraculous abilities, in deference to Satan, as a way to deprive people of their freedom by controlling their food supplies. As this next passage shows, Jesus offers the people the true “bread of heaven,” instead of perishable bread: the Life of God, which we may ingest as an eternally renewable source of eternal life, love and freedom.

We will return to consider this claim, again, in our next post. For now, I will break down this passage, analytically, in the hope of clarifying its meaning.

In this passage (6:16-59), Jesus demonstrates his God-bestowed miraculous abilities by walking in water (vv. 16-21). While his bread miracle recalls God’s provision of manna to the wilderness generation under Moses, so his walking on the sea recalls God’s parting of the seas, during the Exodus, so that Israel may cross out of Egypt, the place of bondage. Jesus demonstrates that he is not merely a new “prophet like Moses” but indeed one who can perform works directly sourced from God.

Jesus then gives a speech, explaining that the true gift he has to give is not merely food to eat (to sustain biological life) but instead eternal life. Furthermore, while the people under Moses ate manna in the desert (which is perishable) as a gift from God, the people now, in the presence of Jesus, may eat the bread of life itself, which has come down to heaven from God. It is Jesus himself who is this heavenly bread. It is his body that must be eaten.

This puzzling assertion, suggesting cannibalism, causes consternation and anger in some of Jesus’s audience. How can Jesus claim to be the bread of life, when he is a mere mortal, the son of their very own neighbors in their village?

41 Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 

Jesus explains:

56 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. 

We learn later in the Gospel (John 15) that to “abide” in Jesus means to abide in Love. Thus, by offering his own flesh, as heavenly bread, and his own blood, as heavenly drink,  Jesus asks us to supply ourselves with a new spiritual foundation for our lives. Our lives, in communion with God, will be the life of God, which is Love.

The mission of Jesus Christ is to offer us this communion and union with God, which in turn gives freedom, and even an ability to perform miracles of our own.

John 6:16-59

16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, 17 got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. 18 The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. 20 But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” 21 Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land toward which they were going.

22 The next day the crowd that had stayed on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there. They also saw that Jesus had not got into the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. 23 Then some boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24 So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus.

25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30 So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? 31 Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” 32 Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”

35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away; 38 for I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day.”

41 Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43 Jesus answered them, “Do not complain among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. 46 Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47 Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; 55 for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. 56 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.” 59 He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum.

 

Bread, Freedom, or a Kiss: John 6 / Grand Inquisitor

j6hj3k43Hello Lightworkers,

This post is for our Gospel of John study #35 (see the text reproduced below– all the way below the second picture):

The Grand Inquisitor, in Dostoyevsky’s parable, asks Jesus to justify his claims to freedom and his refusal of Satan’s offer. Satan offers Jesus the chance to prove his abilities, in turning  stones into bread. In Dostoyevsky’s episode, the character Ivan (who speaks for the Grand Inquisitor) argues that the ability to feed the multitudes is the basis for both political and religious authority. Human beings require to have their stomachs filled and where one aches in hunger, freedom will count as whatever thing may appease one’s appetites and guarantee one’s survival. Thus, if Jesus had wanted a popular following, he should rightly have accepted the Devil’s suggestion, to turn stones into bread.

In John 6, while Jesus does perform a miracle of feeding, he refuses to become a political king on this basis; even though the crowds wish to make him a king, Jesus escapes from their grasp.  In effect, Jesus dissents from the Grand Inquisitor’s worldview (as spoken by Ivan) and from seizing for himself spiritual authority on the basis of an economic and political platform.

In what does freedom consist? And must our survival be assured (our material needs satisfied) before freedom can be enjoyed? Dostoyevsky provides an answer which bypasses this alternative: a Kiss (this will be explained below).

In John 6, Jesus continues his miracles by feeding the five thousand (John 6:1-15). The feeding of the five thousand occurs in all four gospels. John interprets this miracle as a sign to the crowds that Jesus is King. Jesus is the long awaited “prophet like Moses,” who was expected to become King, while doing miracles reminiscent of a legendary time in Israel’s history. Just as God fed the people in the wilderness with manna, so Jesus will do so with bread. Yet, if the crowds expect Jesus to be King, it is a role that Jesus refuses: John 6:15 “Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.”

In this historical period, while Israel rose up against Rome, the imperial overlord, a number of leaders performed miracles, while claiming to be prophets and kings. One may read about such movements in the works of Richard Horsley here: Bandits, Prophets, Messiahs. Significant for John is that Jesus refuses the role of popular political leader or king.

Later in this chapter, Jesus will make the baffling claim that unlike Moses, he does not merely feed people with bread. Rather Jesus is himself the Bread given for the world, John 6:35 “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty”. We will discuss this saying further in the next post of our Gospel of John study series.

Jesus’s refusal may be elucidated then by the Grand Inquisitor episode in Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov. Here is the audio book version: Audio Book: Grand Inquisitor . Here is the full text of the episode: Text Grand Inquisitor Episode and here: Grand Inquisitor.

In this episode, Ivan claims that if Jesus were to return, he would be arrested by the Church and prosecuted by the Inquisition, specifically for his refusal of Satan, when Satan challenges him to turn stone in to bread. Ivan’s challenge pertains also to John 6:15, where Jesus refuses to become an earthly King, whose job is to feed and improve the material conditions of people’s lives.

The masses, Jesus says, require a political ruler who will give bread to eat. Virtue and freedom lack utility and have no substance, when economic conditions are unstable.  Regarding Jesus’s claim to provide the bread of heaven rather than earthly bread,  Ivan says: “And if for the sake of the bread of Heaven thousands shall follow Thee, what is to become of the millions and tens of thousands of millions of creatures who will not have the strength to forego the earthly bread for the sake of the heavenly?”

Ivan’s question is alive in our own day: how may we live in freedom, if our basic needs are not supplied? Shouldn’t bread come first and our needs be satisfied? Before freedom can be genuinely claimed and lived?

The response of Christ to Ivan’s challenge in this episode mirrors the response of his brother, Aloysha, who is a disciple of Jesus Christ, and it echoes a scene earlier in  the book, where the monk Zosima’s gesture to their brother Demitri, by bowing before him. Jesus responds with a kiss, which reverses the kiss of Judas, from the Gospels. Judas, the betrayer of Jesus, kisses Jesus to reveal his identity to the arresting party. He trades Jesus away for money. It is Judas who has argued that the perfume, which Mary squanders by anointing the feet of Jesus, ought to be sold and donated to the poor. Judas puts material needs above the intrinsic dignity of life itself.

Christ’s kiss in Dostoyevsky’s story does the opposite. This kiss affirms the intrinsic dignity of life and the human being. Each of us is beloved. Our beloved stature before God, not bread alone, gives us our freedom.

the-arrest-of-christ-kiss-of-judas

Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss

John 6  (NIV) Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand
6 Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), 2 and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. 3 Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. 4 The Jewish Passover Festival was near.

5 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” 6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.

7 Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages[a] to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”

8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, 9 “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”

10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.

12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.

14 After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” 15 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.

True Friendship

 

Jonathan David WL by Goetz

David and Jonathan

Gospel of John : #34

Friendship is a theme in the Gospel of John (John 15:15-16), so here is post on the theme of friendship.

Friendship involves: promises, commitment, imagining a life together, taking on the burdens of your friend as your own, not only wishing but also working together for the best. If we remain superficially acquainted, we are never obliged to anybody nor do we ever grow and change through the power and possibility of love.

BE SURE TO CLICK THE LINKS (BELOW).

1. Here’s Montaigne on Friendship:

Michel de Montaigne on Friendship (1580)

2. Seth Godin on Friendship: a thought-provoking idea

Seth Godin on Faux Intimacy

3. David and Jonathan on friendship:

Jonathan and David on Friendship

And also see:Article David and Jonathan

Note the conclusion: “Then Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, because we have sworn both of us in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord shall be between me and you, and between my offspring and your offspring, forever.’” And he rose and departed, and Jonathan went into the city.”

4. Ruth and Naomi

Book of Ruth

Ruth and Naomi: One Perspective on their Friendship

5. Male- Female Friendships

6. Friendship between Men

7.  Friendship Between Women

Equal to God

Gospel of John #32  John 5:16-45

Here, in this passage, we find the basic claims about Christ made by the Gospel of John. How shall we as modern people understand these?

*First claim: Jesus is accused of making himself equal to God, which causes suspicion by the religious authorities who will arrest him for blasphemy.

*Implication: Jesus opens up a possibility for humanity, that we may also know the Spirit within ourselves, which is equal to God. How would you live according to this claim, assuming that your Spirit within comes from God and is equal to God? What kind of power does that provide for you?

**Another essential point, conveyed in the passage: our acquaintance with God entails a commitment. If we believe in God — (in the Spirit which is love, peace, and wisdom, for instance) –  then we will recognize the things of God. Jesus says in this passage that anybody who knows the scriptures (of Moses) and sees the works that Jesus performs (e.g. miracles) may attest on that basis that Jesus is sent by God.

**Implication: Who is God for you?  And what are the things of God that you recognize on that basis?  For instance, if God has touched you as a spirit of truth or freedom or healing, then do you honor that same spirit in others? The freedom, truth, and healing? If someone were to come along and claim a divine message, how would you decide its truth? What is equal to God for you?

Here’s a basic exposition of this passage.

In this passage (John 5:16-45), after Jesus heals the man at the pool of Bethsaida, an intensifying conflict is exhibited between Jesus and the authorities. It is not only because Jesus heals on the Sabbath that the religious authorities wish to arrest him but also because “he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.” (5:18) This claim to be equal to God counts as blasphemy according to the Jewish authorities.

Jesus goes on to claim that he has power to judge and to give life, just as the Father does. He also says that several testimonies prove that he embodies the spirit of God and comes from the Father: a) the testimony of John, the prophet; b) the testimony of the works of God that he does (such as healing); c) the testimony of the glory that comes from God; and d) the testimony of scriptures or the law of Moses.

The idea here is that if people have understood rightly all these testimonies, then they will recognize Jesus as sent by God.

Here’s the passage:

John 5: 16-47:  So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. 17 In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” 18 For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

19 Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. 21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. 22 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.

24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. 25 Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.

28 “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29 and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned. 30 By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.

Testimonies About Jesus
31 “If I testify about myself, my testimony is not true. 32 There is another who testifies in my favor, and I know that his testimony about me is true.

33 “You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth. 34 Not that I accept human testimony; but I mention it that you may be saved. 35 John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light.

36 “I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to finish—the very works that I am doing—testify that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, 38 nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. 39 You study[c] the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

41 “I do not accept glory from human beings, 42 but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. 44 How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God[d]?

45 “But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. 46 If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. 47 But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”

 

Healing (the Christ within)

Gospel of John #31

Today we continue our bible study series with another healing story (John 5:1-16).  (See the text, reproduced below, at the end of this post).

The healing miracles of Jesus are prominent in the Gospel of John. They demonstrate that  the human person is essentially spiritual and always capable of renovation. An encounter with the living God brings one into dynamic harmony, which results in healing.

Notable in this healing story:

*The man at Bethsaida has been waiting for 38 years for someone to push him into the pool, so that he may be healed.

*Jesus comes and simply commands that he get up and walk and he does so. The pool’s mediation is not necessary.

*The message, here, is that the Christ-power, the life-force, is within oneself and can propel wellness and change, once it is activated. This inherent dynamism within the human being regenerates and heals.

As to the actual plot line of this healing story:

In this passage, the healing miracle, which takes place at the pool in Bethsaida, opens the section of the Gospel in which Jesus’s antagonists (the religious authorities) initiate a plot against him. Because Jesus heals on the Sabbath, and the man healed identifies Jesus as the culprit, the leaders begin to pursue and persecute him.

The story stylistically makes a contrasting pair with John 9. While the healed man in John 5 shows little recognition of Jesus’s stature as holy man — after he is healed–the man in John 9, who is cured of blindness, is willing to speak out on behalf of Jesus, proclaiming him to be the Son of Man (a title which indicates Jesus’s status as appointed by God).

Indeed, the healed man in John 5 –consciously or not– ends up betraying Jesus. This man has committed some sin (v. 15) while the man born blind in John 9 is innocent.

The man at the pool has been sick for 38 years — a number symbolic of Israel’s trials in the wilderness. His lassitude and helplessness are on display, when he complains that nobody is willing to give him a small push into the pool so that he may become well.

Jesus bypasses the healing pool. His own authority — as the fountain of life (see John 4) –surpasses all healing pools.

How does this story speak to us? The message is about fidelity and trustworthiness. Let’s say we are healed and we do receive the life for which we have yearned for a long period. Finally, we are released from captivity. If we go along forward, without blessing and thanking the source of our Life, who liberated us, shall cynicism then cause us to fall back again into a similar plight?

The man’s mind-set lacks perfect faith insofar as he resumes his physical life while compromising his moral life. He betrays Jesus, who has given him life. A healing that does not result in a changed consciousness and a moral renovation may offer a physical extension of life but the true life — in terms of one’s attitude and standing before God – can be unchanged.

“Pick up your mat and walk” : where have you been restored to life?

The Healing at the Pool: John 5: 1-15
5 Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. [4] 5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”

7 “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”

8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.

The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, 10 and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”

11 But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ ”

12 So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?”

13 The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.

14 Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well.

16 So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him.