This Week’s Gospel Readings: John 1:29-3:30
Who is Yeshua? This section of the Fourth Gospel begins to reveal mysterious answers. He is the one who preexisted and came down among us. He lets slip at a wedding in Cana some of his glory, his divine glory, in commanding nature. He reveals grace in addition to the grace Torah has already shown. The Fourth Gospel wastes no time with ambiguity. This Yeshua is far more than a prophet or merely human messiah.
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A Few Highlights from the Greek and the Commentary
John 1:29 — ide ho amnos tou Theou ho airōn then hamartian tou kosmou, ἴδε ὁ ἀμνὸς τοῦ θεοῦ ὁ αἴρων τὴν ἁμαρτίαν τοῦ κόσμου, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the guilt of the world.” What led John the Baptizer to refer to Yeshua as “the lamb of God”? Two traditions lie in the background, the figure in Isaiah 53 who is like a slaughtered lamb and the Passover festival in Jerusalem with its numerous sacrificial lambs (Raymond Brown). Whereas the previous section of the Fourth Gospel (1:1-18) was about Yeshua’s exalted identity (he is the Word who became flesh), this section (1:19-42) is punctuated with references to Yeshua’s redeeming death. Twice John the Baptizer speaks of Yeshua as the “lamb of God” (vss. 29, 36). The two sections complement one another and are two ways of looking at the question: who is Yeshua? He is the Word that preexisted and came down among is. He is the sacrificial lamb with powers to elevate and give worth to all human beings.
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John 1:51 — tous angelous tou theou anabainontas kai katabainontas epi ton huion too anthrōpou, τοὺς ἀγγέλους τοῦ θεοῦ ἀναβαίνοντας καὶ καταβαίνοντας ἐπὶ τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, “the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” What is Yeshua talking about? He is referring to the story of Jacob and the ladder (really a stairway) from heaven to earth that Jacob saw in a dream. God stood at the top and Genesis 28:12 says, “the angels of God were ascending and descending upon it.” It could also be translated “ascending and descending upon him” (the Hebrew is בּוֹ bō, “on it” or “on him”). In the original story, Jacob saw that God is active on earth and does his will here via angelic messengers. However, there were probably already in Yeshua’s time midrashes (sermonic retellings) of the story in which angels were ascending and descending upon Jacob rather than the stairway. That is, the patriarch Jacob was a conduit between heaven and earth, with God acting in the world in whatever place Jacob was to be found. Yeshua says this is now his role, to be the conduit, the focal point of Gods activity on earth. The saying is fulfilled in an almost literal way, as angels attended Yeshua and he himself became the ladder or stairway for others.
John 2:11 — ephanerōsen taen doxan, ἐφανέρωσεν τὴν δόξαν, “he revealed his glory.”John interprets Yeshua’s nature miracles, such as turning water into wine, as the Messiah letting slip through the screen a bit of the divine glory that was his from the foundation of the world. Only the creator of water, of grape vines, can transmute matter in such an omnipotent manner. And Yeshua did not pray and ask God to perform the miracle. He apparently did it himself. He let slip his glory, allowing it to show through, for those who paid close attention, and thought deeply about such things. Of course, no one got it. No one understood until the revelation was made more obvious in the ascension and in later appearances of Yeshua from heaven, seated on the throne of heaven beside God.
John 2:17 — ho zaelos tou oikou sou kataphagetai me, ὁ ζῆλος τοῦ οἴκου σου καταφάγεταί με, “zeal for your house will consume me.” The author of the Fourth Gospel calls out the motivation of Israel’s leaders for having Yeshua killed. From Rome’s perspective, messiahs and leaders of popular movements are dangerous. But why did the chief priests oppose Yeshua so strongly? He called them out on their abuse of the temple, and the way they used it for power and accumulation of wealth. All of this the author connects with King David, through Psalm 69:9, “Zeal for your house has consumed me.” Written about David and his passion for psalms and organizing temple choirs and musicians, the verse originally meant something positive. David was consumed emotionally with the temple. Yet interpreted another way, “consumed me” (אֲכָלָתְנִי, ‘achalateni, “consumed/devoured me”) could mean “destroyed me.” Yeshua’s zeal for God’s honor in the temple was what made him such an enemy to the powerful and corrupt in Israel. Whereas many of Yeshua’s followers today think the temple was of little value, it consumed our Messiah during his lifetime.
Outlines of the Week, John 1:29-3:30
JOHN 1:29-34 John the Baptizer’s testimony: Lamb of God (29); after me, ahead of me, was before me (30); not chosen by me but revealed to me (31); I saw the Spirit descend (32); I heard the heavenly voice (33); I testify that he is the Chosen One (34).
JOHN 1:35-42 John the Baptizer identifies Yeshua to two disciples (35-37), the two stay with Yeshua for a day (38-39), Andrew introduces Simon to Yeshua and calls him Messiah (40-41), Yeshua gives Peter a second name (42).
JOHN 1:43-51 Yeshua calls Philip (43-44), Philip calls a skeptical Nathanael (45-46), Nathanael considers Yeshua anyway (47), Yeshua’s sign causes faith (48-50), Yeshua is the ladder (51).
JOHN 2:1-11 Yeshua and disciples attend a wedding in Cana (1-2), Mary requests miraculous help with the wine (3-5), servants and water jars (6-8), the headwaiter is amazed at the wine’s quality (9-10), the first of seven signs (11).
JOHN 2:12-25 Interlude in Capernaum (12), Yeshua cleanses the Temple at Passover (13-16), the disciples see in him the zeal of David (17), Temple authorities question Yeshua (18-21), Yeshua’s meaning became clear after he was raised (22), Yeshua shrugs aside his rising popularity (23-25).
JOHN 3:1-21 A Pharisees (Nicodemus) seeks out Yeshua at night (1-2); Yeshua’s “born from above” saying (3-4); new birth in the Spirit (5-8); understanding things from above (9-13); analogy to the serpent in the wilderness (14-15); love, judgment, faith (16-18); judgment, darkness, and light (19-21).
JOHN 3:22-30 Yeshua and disciples baptizing in Judea (22), John and disciples baptizing in Aenon (23-24), a dispute causes John’s disciples to seek him out (25-26), John delivers a sermon on Yeshua’s superiority (27-30).
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More About The Weekly Gospel
Every morning, with my first two cups of coffee, I send out an email to everyone who is subscribed to the Daily Portion. We have readings from the Torah (following the Jewish calendar) and from the four Gospels plus Acts. We read Matthew with Genesis, Mark with Exodus, Luke with Leviticus, John with Numbers, and Acts with Deuteronomy. Click here if you’d like to subscribe (free).
I plan to post weekly summaries here on DerekLeman.com on Tuesdays. You will find outlines of the readings for the previous seven days, links to my full online commentary, and more. I hope this makes it easier for people to engage more with the Bible and follow a consistent reading plan. See more about reading the Bible here.