bible open to the Gospels, with coffee

The Weekly Gospel, June 6, 2017

bible open to the Gospels, with coffee

This Week’s Gospel Readings: John 3:31 – 5:47

The signs are there. Yeshua does and says things that could not possibly be understood before his glory was revealed. The Beloved Disciple, author of this Fourth Gospel, remembered all the seemingly crazy sayings. I receive directly from heaven, Yeshua said. Studying the Torah cannot save you. Only I have the water you need. My Father works on Shabbat and so must I. My voice will call the dead from their graves.

It must have been difficult for the disciples to follow a man who said such things. They clearly did not understand them at the time. The synoptic gospels (Mark, Matthew, Luke) contain few sayings like these. For many of the eyewitnesses, the mysterious words about Yeshua’s hidden identity were not memorable. Not understanding them, they discarded them and remembered other things.

But the Beloved Disciple was a more perceptive witness. And at a time when the other gospels are circulating, he adds to the record some of the most bizarre stories of Yeshua.

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A Few Highlights from the Greek and the Commentary

John 3:36 — ho de apeithōn tō huiō ouk opsetai zōaen, ὁ δὲ ἀπειθῶν τῷ υἱῷ οὐκ ὄψεται ζωήν, “the one who disbelieves the Son will not see life.” Ultimately, we will have to believe in the divine Messiah to see who God is and what existence is all about. This exclusivity has been used in an unbalanced manner, in my opinion, in much church teaching. God’s love and acceptance and persistent pursuit of people is the other side of the equation. If someone we know disbelieves Yeshua, we should not assume they are without hope. A common belief is that the deadline for finding life is the moment we die. In this belief system, which is not stated here or elsewhere in the Bible, it is a race to persuade someone to believe before they die. But the statement in John 3:36 has no deadline on it and is not about “converting” people before they die. It is a contrast. People who have discovered that God and Messiah are the ultimate meaning of life see eternal purpose whereas people who do not yet see remain part of the as-yet-to-be-redeemed evil God is going to purge the universe from. When the perfect comes, the whole earth will be filled with the knowledge of God and Yeshua. Our happiness cannot be realized until we believe and accept what God is showing us.

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John 4:44 — autos gar Iaesous emarturaesen, αὐτὸς γὰρ Ἰησοῦς ἐμαρτύρησεν, “for Yeshua himself had testified.” The author of the Fourth Gospel observes that Yeshua had said elsewhere, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country.” But where did Yeshua say this? In Mark 6:4. This an important piece of evidence that the Fourth Gospel, though it seemingly ignores the stories commonly known from Mark, Matthew, and Luke, is deliberately showing a different dimension of the Yeshua account. John is aware of Mark. As for the “without honor” saying, the Beloved Disciple sees the shallow following that sought out Yeshua because of signs and wonders as inadequate.

John 4:48 — ean mae saemeia kai terata idaete, ou mae pisteusaete, ἐὰν μὴ σημεῖα καὶ τέρατα ἴδητε, οὐ μὴ πιστεύσητε, “unless you see signs and wonders, you never believe.” Although Yeshua castigates sign-seeking, regarding it as weak faith, he nonetheless accepts it as a beginning. To become real faith, it must grow and deepen into knowledge and experience.

John 5:14 — maeketi hamartane , μηκέτι ἁμάρτανε, “sin no more.” These are the same words Yeshua says to the woman caught in adultery (8:11, “go and sin no more”). In many cases, Yeshua’s act of healing is linked with his role as judge of the sins of human beings. In the case of the paralytic man whose friends lowered him through the roof, for example, Yeshua said, “Your sins are forgiven.” These sayings are a pattern in which Yeshua hints during his earthly career that he is more than a wonder worker.

John 5:39 — hoti humeis dokeite en autais zoaen aiōnion exein, ὅτι ὑμεῖς δοκεῖτε ἐν αὐταῖς ζωὴν αἰώνιον ἔχειν, “for you think in them [the scriptures] you have eternal life.” Yeshua addresses the error of religious people who believe in their interpretation of the sacred text they are self-sufficient. Creed and dogmatism can stifle any hope of life, because these can close a person’s mind and heart to learning something new. Knowledge of the Bible, possessing skill with the Torah, does not provide life when separated from an openness to God breaking in and doing the unexpected.

Outlines of the Week, John 1:29-3:30

JOHN 3:31-36 From above vs. from earth (31), receiving heavenly testimony (32-33), Yeshua as revealer and giver (34-35), eternal life only in Yeshua (36).

JOHN 4:1-3 Leaving the Jordan for Galilee (1-3).

JOHN 4:4-42 Yeshua comes to Jacob’s well in Samaria (4-6), the woman and living water (7-15), discussing true worship with the woman (16-26), discussing the harvest with his disciples (27-38), fruit from the Samaritans (39-42).

JOHN 4:43-45 Departing for Galilee (43), a prophet not honored (44), received [shallowly] by Galileans.

JOHN 4:46-54 Back in Cana for the second sign (46), a royal official seeks a miracle (47), Yeshua objects to seeking miracles in order to believe (47-50), the official confirms that his son was healed as Yeshua said (51-53), this was the second sign (54).

JOHN 5:1-15 At a feast Yeshua comes to Jerusalem (1), a pool where unwell people come for a miracle (2-5), Yeshua heals (6-9), Jewish leaders angry at the man carrying a pallet on Shabbat (10-12), Yeshua encounters him a second time and he reports on Yeshua to the Jewish leaders (13-15).

JOHN 5:16-47 Yeshua and the Father (16-24), Yeshua as the Resurrector and Judge (25-32), witnesses to Yeshua’s transcendent identity (33-47).

Read the full commentary on John 3:31-5:47. Click here.

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 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.

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