Reta's Reflections

What Should Philemon Do?

How did such a personal letter become Scripture? We know some of Paul’s letters could be lost (1 Corinthians 5:9 refers to one). Perhaps the original readers enjoyed the humor and a chance to see another side of Paul. If the Onesimus mentioned in Colossians 4:9 as Paul’s faithful co-worker is the same person, that indicates Philemon did what Paul requested. Perhaps it is only a coincidence that the bishop of Ephesus at the end of the first century, mentioned by the church father Ignatius, was named Onesimus. Continue reading

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Letter to Philemon: Another Side of Paul

“This letter is so full of puns, innuendos, double entendres, and other persuasive techniques that even Philemon must have scratched his head for a while. Clearly, Paul wants something from Philemon and is laying it on pretty thick to get him to do it—but what is it?” Continue reading

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Conclusion: The ongoing challenge of biblical interpretation

“Hermeneutics refers to ‘the science of interpretation.’ Our Bible is a library of historical documents ranging from perhaps 1000 BCE to the second century CE. We need guidelines for how to interpret texts in their ancient sociological and anthropological contexts. We need church leaders and pastors who learn Hebrew and Greek well enough to use available resources and then help laypersons better understand how translation works across time and cultures. Instead, I fear many churchgoing Christians who sincerely care about the Bible read it ‘on the flat,’ as if the writings were written in our native language and reflect contemporary assumptions.” Continue reading

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“Strenuous Tolerance”:  Can we get along when we don’t agree?

“According to Romans 14:1–15:6, what really matters ethically is how we treat other people and how consistent we are in living by our own consciences without condemning others who differ from us. The challenge—especially in matters relating to sexuality—is deciding which actions are intrinsically hurtful to others and which are not. We should actively oppose prostitution and pornography, for example, since they are obviously hurtful, especially for women and girls. But, as I have tried to argue in these lessons, same-sex love and marriage should be evaluated by the same moral standards as heterosexual love and marriage.” Continue reading

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The Bigger Picture:  Sin as a Moving Target

“So how do we relate to more conservative friends, relatives, or fellow church members who complain that the church ‘is not calling sin sin anymore’? After our Bible study in the local Mennonite church, I spoke with a friend who is part of that congregation and understands the resistance of some people to accept same-sex marriage. ‘In their lifetime,’ she said, ‘these older people have had to make so many adjustments and changes in the church. This is just one more change that seems too hard to make.’ I appreciated her compassion and understanding, but for those to whom scripture matters, both conservatives and revisionists must do their biblical homework as well.” Continue reading

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“Inheriting the Kingdom of God”—1 Corinthians 6:9-10, 1 Timothy 1:9-10, and Jude 7

“Many Christians still read these three texts as a handy, short-cut way to condemn all persons with any same-sex orientation or who are in committed, same-gender relationships. In light of these cultural and literary contexts, it is inappropriate to translate either malakoi or arsenokoitai as ‘homosexuals.’ Instead, they identify specific types of sexual obsession or exploitation.William Stacy Johnson comments at the close of his reflections on 1 Timothy 1:10 that sex with castrated slave boys ‘is hardly the kind of behavior involved in exclusively committed same-gender love’ (p. 133). And pursuing sex with an angel is definitely ‘unnatural’!” Continue reading

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Inflammatory Words in Romans 1:24-27

“Although today we tend to see sexual attraction as something deep within the individual, these ancient writers used fire imagery to show that ‘sexual passion is a force which invades the lover from the outside’ (Fredrickson, p. 211). Thus Paul uses ekkaiō in the passive voice—‘to be inflamed.’ This is illustrated by the god Eros shooting his burning arrows into the hearts of hapless lovers. Fire is also insubstantial and fleeting. Thus the lover is never satisfied with sexual consummation, but keeps seeking more and more exotic experiences (p. 212), like drinking salty water that only makes one thirstier.” Continue reading

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What Is Natural and Unnatural Sex in Romans 1:24-27?

“Besides the analogy of food to explain using persons of either gender as sexual objects, Greco-Romans also compared sexual use to household management. Wives were part of the property of a man’s household, as were his slaves, and he could ‘use’ them as he wished. But philosophers like Plato and Aristotle were concerned with the correct use of property, which requires the control of passion. Avoid luxury and only use objects necessary for life, they said. This also applies to sex (Fredrickson, pp. 202-203).” Continue reading

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The Love and Sex Lives of Ancient Greeks and Romans

“In the Roman Empire, marriage was for procreation. Unless enslaved, males would marry in order to produce offspring, preferably sons, to whom they would pass on their lineage and wealth. Parents arranged marriages for reasons of social class and economics—usually a virgin adolescent girl paired with a sexually experienced man about ten years older. Wives were expected to be chaste to assure husbands of legitimate children. Such arrangements often resembled that of uncle and niece rather than current ideals of romance, equality, and companionship. So husbands had far more sexual freedom, which their wives simply had to put up with.” Continue reading

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Romans 1:24-27 and Pornography: “God gave them up…”

“I was stunned to realize that this is what Paul is talking about in Romans 1:24-27! A constant exposure to sexual images of pleasure, power, and domination lead to a search for new highs. Normal sexual relationships no longer satisfy, so people experiment with ever more exotic and abusive acts. Their punishment, says Paul, is that ‘God gave them up to the degrading of their bodies’ (1:24) and ‘they received in their own persons the due penalty for their error’ (1:27). In other words, the Jewish, law-observant Paul saw in the pagan Greco-Roman world a sex addiction that was not only shameful but ultimately led to an inability to experience normal sexual pleasure. James’s letter agrees. One is lured and enticed by desire, he says, ‘then, when that desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and that sin, when it is fully grown, gives birth to death’ (Jas 1:14-15). The point here is not sexual orientation; it’s never-satisfied sexual addiction.” Continue reading

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The Historical and Literary Setting for Romans 1:24-27

“We cannot do justice to this passage until we understand its purpose in Paul’s lengthy theological letter to the Roman Christians—which is actually composed as a speech to be delivered publicly and passionately. Why did Paul write this speech to believers living in a city he had never visited? It’s a long story, which will take up the rest of this lesson.” Continue reading

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Sodom’s Sin: What Does the Bible Actually Say?

“And so, dear reader, that concludes our analysis of all Old Testament references used against LGBTQ people today. Slim pickings, indeed. Not a word about women’s sexuality. And three references (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; and Genesis 19:1-11) emphasizing how horrible it would be for any free male to lose honor by being raped or forced to take the woman’s passive role in this highly patriarchal ancient culture.” Continue reading

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Levitical Laws:  “Thou shalt not”. . . But why not?

“If you grew up Methodist or hung around with Methodists, you probably learned about the Wesleyan Quadrilateral as a way to help Christians arrive at ethical conclusions. What are some things we need to consider in moral decision making? Imagine a square, with each of the four sides representing one component of deliberation: Scripture (as revelation), Tradition, Reason, and Experience. As Christians today debate LGBTQ issues, they weight these elements in different ways. Conservative believers rely more on Scripture and tradition, while progressives stress experience. (And too often reason flies out the window!)” Continue reading

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A Challenge for LGBTQ Biblical Progressives

“Revisionist biblical scholars have examined the texts that refer negatively to non-heterosexual sexual behavior (Lev 18:22; 20:13; Gen 19; Judg 19; Rom 1:26-27; 1 Cor 6:9; 1 Tim 1:10; Jude 7). Though interpretations vary in the details, these scholars conclude such texts say nothing about sexual orientation or love-based, consensual same-gender sexual relations and certainly nothing about gay marriage. Rather, they are addressing rape and inhospitality, or pederasty, or the practice of sexually abusing one’s slaves, male or female. Revisionist scholars believe the historical distance between our culture and the ancient Mediterranean cultures of the Bible is so great that these texts simply do not address the current reality of loving, mutual, same-sex relationships.” Continue reading

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Does the Bible Teach Biological Complementarity?

“For many Christians [who voice opinions about same-sex sexual expression], these disapproving biblical verses imply the case is closed. But why does scripture (or God) disapprove? I raised that question several years ago in a small group study with the pastor and members of my church who were debating whether to become a welcoming congregation. If there is no abuse or power imbalance, why should God care? Or, as James Brownson puts it in Bible, Gender, Sexuality, (mentioned in Lesson 8), what is the ‘moral logic’ behind this disapproval?” Continue reading

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Sliding Down the Slippery Slope—or Climbing Upward?

“But this complementarian position can only be held if the Bible is read ‘on the flat,’ as if it were written for contemporary people and contained no scientific or historical errors. In Lesson 5 on ‘gender disputes in Bible translation,’ I referred to the book co-written by Wayne Grudem and Vern Poythress called The Gender-Neutral Bible Controversy: Muting the Masculinity of God’s Words. A light bulb went on for me at that point. These authors really believe God is masculine and, further, that the male leadership and patriarchy pervading the biblical texts is not simply a reflection of these ancient cultures but is part of God’s plan for humankind.” Continue reading

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The Bible and Same-Sex Relationships: Some Resources

“My concern in this series of lessons is this: how do we discuss this issue with people who hold a traditional view and see that view as more biblically-based than ours? Can we adequately interact with the so-called “clobber-texts” used to condemn same-sex sexual expression (i.e., Genesis 19:1-11; Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13; Romans 1: 24-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Timothy 1:10)? How do we respond to traditional views of the creation of male and female in Genesis 1 and 2 and to Jesus’s references to heterosexual marriage? Or do we just ignore these texts and assume that no real dialogue is possible?”
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Can You Read the Signs? Principles of Interpretation

“Biblical texts come alive through archeological discoveries, as well as sociology and anthropology, which help modern people understand the different traditions and habits of ancient peoples. For example, male honor was more important than female honor. Read the stories of attempted rape at Sodom in Genesis 19:1-11 and the actual rape of the Levite’s concubine in Judges 19. In each case, men offered their women to the rapists while preserving the honor of the men within the house.”
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Different Interpretations—Different Missions

“It is small wonder that Christians assuming different biblical hermeneutics often talk past each other. As one who deeply loves and respects the Bible, I will not try to protect it. It may be God-breathed, but it is also a human product with perspectives limited by time and culture. “ Continue reading

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Gender Disputes in Bible Translation

“In 1997, when our household was subscribing to the evangelical magazine, Christianity Today, nearly every issue entertained and enraged me by reporting on the fight over a Bible translation. The translation was called Today’s New International Version of the Bible (TNIV), an updated edition of the New International Version (NIV), a favorite of conservative Christians. And many of them were not happy with the new edition. Why the unhappiness? Because the TNIV was the first NIV updating to use gender-inclusive people language.” Continue reading

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Problems with Biblical Inerrancy

“As someone who has loved the Bible since childhood and has devoted her life and career to better understanding it, I find this view of strict verbal inspiration incomprehensible. I suppose it can be held in the mind as theory, but not in practice. When even laypeople read the Bible carefully, they will run into impossible contradictions. First of all, our Bible is not a book; it is a library of 66 books written in three different languages over a period of more than a thousand years. And the early chapters of Genesis tell stories set in time periods centuries before writing itself was developed.” Continue reading

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A Brief History of Biblical Inspiration

“Bereft of their promised land, their temple, and their priesthood, the Judeans confronted searching questions about why their God had let this [their forced exile into Babylon] happen. Relying on oral memory and various texts they had brought with them, they then began shaping the material into a coherent history and theology. Through worship and study, the written word became divine revelation to them. By the time some of them returned to Jerusalem from exile (permitted by the Persian ruler, Cyrus, beginning in 539 BCE), they had a collection of writings that became guides for their priests, prophets, and all the people of Yahweh (see Nehemiah 8:1-12).” Continue reading

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Is the Bible Divinely Inspired?

“Is the Bible divinely inspired and thus authoritative? Discussions on inspiration often start by quoting 2 Timothy 3:16 from the New Testament. The NRSV reads, ‘All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.’ This is the usual translation, but it is not the only one. A footnote in the NRSV includes this alternative: ‘Every scripture inspired by God is also…’ The difference is significant.” Continue reading

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Biblical Interpretation: Can We Get It Right?

“This new series of lessons in Reta’s Reflections will not be a book study, as earlier studies have been. Rather, it will deal with the broader issue of hermeneutics, the science of interpretation as it relates to how we understand our Scriptures. The question of how we interpret authoritative texts becomes acute when current social, economic, or political issues divide believers who look to these texts for answers.” Continue reading

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The Perils of God’s Mercy—Jonah 4:1-11

“The story of Jonah teaches us that God cares about those we perceive as our worst enemies. Jonah’s dilemma was the opposite of Job’s. Job’s agonizing question to God was, ‘How can God let bad things happen to good people?’ Jonah asks how God can allow good things to happen to bad people. Both of these books challenge other scriptures that promise blessings for those who obey God’s laws and curses on those who don’t. In both cases God responds with open-ended questions with which we must wrestle.”
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Changing God’s Mind—Jonah 3:1-10

“Having disobeyed once to dire consequences, Jonah figures he has no choice; so off he trots, eastward over the desert until he arrives in Nineveh, capital of the Assyrian Empire (now in Iraq). In 3:3 we see both contrast and repetition: instead of a raging sea, Jonah finds a huge urban center. The city is so large it takes three days to walk across it, paralleling the three days Jonah had spent inside the fish (1:17).” Continue reading

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Going down to Sheol: Jonah 2:1-10

“But now, rescued by the fish, Jonah ‘gets religion.’ Sort of. He’s grateful to be saved from ‘the belly of Sheol’ after all. But he blames God for ‘casting him into the deep’ (v 3)—when it’s his own fault for fleeing from God’s presence and then requesting to be thrown into the sea. Now, suddenly, Jonah longs to worship in God’s holy temple (v 7), even though he has not repented of his behavior nor promised to visit Nineveh.”
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Away from God’s Presence—Jonah 1:1-17

“Although we find no women in this story thus far, the Hebrew word for ship is feminine and has a will of her own: she threatens to break apart (v 4). Jonah goes down into ‘her hold’ as into a womb, and falls asleep. (The actual Hebrew term is ‘the innermost parts of the ship.’) Later, he ends up in the fish’s ‘belly’ (v 17), which comes from the same Hebrew root as ‘womb.’ Jonah is both protected and entrapped by these female images.”
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Postscript: The Reception of John’s Gospel

“The biblical canon—the list of books that comprise the Bible as we know it today— was not fixed until the mid or late 4th century. Long before that, however, churches developed lists of texts appropriate for reading in their assemblies. The Synoptic Gospels were a shoo-in from the beginning, since Jesus was the central authority figure for Christians. But some, especially Jewish Christians, questioned John’s Gospel because it portrayed Jesus as more divine and less human than did the Synoptics.”
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The Rehabilitation of Peter—John 21:15-25

“What does the author intend by using two different words for ‘love’ in John 21:15-17? ‘Agape’ is the all-encompassing love from God that enables disciples to be kind and accepting toward everyone, whether or not they are lovable. ‘Philos’ is the warm affection friends have for each other. Perhaps Peter loves Jesus as a friend but is not yet able to embrace the necessary ‘agape’ needed to be a church leader of many different kinds of people. He needs to be told three times to feed all of Jesus’s sheep! Only then can he truly repent of having three times denied his relationship to Jesus.” Continue reading

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A Fish Story:  Mother Jesus Serves Breakfast—John 21:1-14

“By the time everyone arrives, Jesus is making breakfast, just as he did back in John 6 when he fed 5000 people. Like an ordinary housewife, he fries flatbread and cooks some of the fish they had just caught. I can see the disciples standing around awkwardly, unused to helping with women’s work, and not knowing what to say (v 12).” Continue reading

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A “Touching” Group Appearance—John 20:19-31

“Within our current Western worldview, a dead body that becomes alive again cannot be explained by biology or physics. Thus, some Christians see Jesus’s resurrection as less a physical reality and more as a metaphor for new life and new spiritual insight. However, it is quite clear that Jesus’s disciples and the early church were totally convinced that Jesus had been bodily raised from death; some claimed to have seen and touched him! Otherwise, he would have been a failed messiah, and everyone would have gone back to their former lives and hoped for the real one to show up.” Continue reading

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A Pivotal Reunion in the Garden—John 20:1-18

“As a feminist reader, I page back through this Gospel looking for people ‘in the know,’ and I find they are mostly women! Mary Magdalene’s knowing in today’s lesson parallels that of other prominent women in this Gospel: Jesus’s mother, the Samaritan woman at the well, Martha of Bethany, and Mary of Bethany.”
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Jesus’s Burial and the Meaning of the Empty Tomb—John 19:38-20:10

“If they could afford it, Judeans buried their dead in a lengthy process. The first stage happened quickly, however. Between the last breath and sundown, the body was washed and anointed with spices, usually by women, and then laid on a shelf in a tomb cut out of the limestone bedrock around Jerusalem. Rites of mourning would begin at that time and continue for a full year. During that time, the flesh would rot away, leaving only the bones by the end of the year. This decomposition was necessary as a way for the person’s sins to be expiated. ” Continue reading

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Crucified, Dead, and Buried—John 19:16b-42

“There was nothing romantic about crucifixion. The victims had been stripped naked, their 10-level pain laced with public humiliation and shame. Many lingered for days, covered in their own excrement. From the onlookers’ mocking point of view, they got what they deserved. After they died, corpses were usually left hanging for birds and other predators to pick their bones clean. Crucifixions were Rome’s most dramatic advertisements to occupied peoples: ‘We’re in charge. Don’t mess with us, or you’re next!’” Continue reading

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Jesus, Pilate, and “The Jews”: The Empire Strikes Back—John 18:28–19:16a

“Scene 1 is an honor challenge. The elite Judeans have decided in 11:47-53 that Jesus must die. But stoning him for religious reasons will only turn the common people against them. Rome must view him as a political threat and crucify him for rebellion. Hence the Judeans’ smart alecky retort in John 18:30, indicating that, of course, Jesus is a criminal. Why else would they have brought him to Pilate?” Continue reading

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Jesus’s Trial before Pilate: Not What You Expect—John 18:29-19:16a

“Then add to this complicated political system another category: the Jewish rebels and messiahs who believed God wanted them to violently overthrow the Romans. Such unrest pushed the priestly caste more strongly toward cooperation with the Roman governor and against the peasants, who comprised 90 percent of the population. Into this mix comes Jesus of Nazareth, who identifies with the peasants, heals their disabilities, and teaches them that the way to God is not through sacrifices bought from corrupt high priests, but can be received as a gift through him! ” Continue reading

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Arrest and Trial by Night—John 18:1-27

“Jesus is in control of the situation. He knows ‘all that was to happen to him’ (v 4). He steps forward and questions first: ‘Whom are you looking for?’ When they reply, ‘Jesus of Nazareth,’ he identifies himself. The NRSV quotes Jesus saying, ‘I am he,’ but the Greek text uses the name we’ve heard many times before in this Gospel—egō eimí—’I AM.’ When Jesus says this, all the officers step back and ignobly fall to the ground! (v 6). As they scramble to their feet, the question and the replies are repeated again: ‘I told you that I AM!’ Taking charge in this way is a matter of honor. Only the inferior are controlled by those above them.” Continue reading

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Praying for Myself, Us, and Them—John 17:1-26

“Although the patron-client relationship is used between humanity and God, Jesus is clear that this should not be practiced among believers. The goal of Jesus’s work with his disciples is not to act superior to them (remember the footwashing in John 13?). Instead he asks God to ‘protect them…so that they may be one as we are one’ (v 11). Later, he asks ‘also for those who will believe in me through their [the disciples’] word, that they may all be one’ (vv 20-21). The level of intimacy between Jesus and his Father/Mother is to be the pattern for all believers. No more pulling rank over others because of higher social status. That is how ‘the world’ works.” Continue reading

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Living in a Hostile World—John 16:1-33

“The suffering Johannine communities are symbolized by a woman in labor (16:20-22). Earlier we noted how Jesus’s role in John’s Gospel is similar to an idealized Mediterranean woman who is given complete authority over her household and children. This is another example of Jesus’s (and the Spirit’s) understanding of women’s concerns. We can imagine Jesus as an older woman ministering to her daughter who labors to bring forth a child. In this way the Advocate stands with the marginalized community, making the reassuring promise that, in Jesus’s words, ‘You have pain now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one can take your joy from you’ (16:2-24).” Continue reading

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A Vineyard of Friendship—John 15:1-17

“Agape love, of course, does not have to mean liking another person—it is wanting the best for them as you want the best for yourself. It is taking others on their own terms and accepting them the way they are, understanding that hurtful behavior can come from personal insecurity or even mental illness. It may sometimes mean confrontation and ‘tough love’ that can easily be misinterpreted. Agape love demands a lot of humility. It is not surprising that Jesus called this kind of loving a ‘command’ (v. 17)—something you do rather than something you necessarily feel.” Continue reading

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Questions and Misunderstandings—John 14:1-31

“The ‘key verse’ in this section is verse 6, which many Christians know by heart: ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ Unfortunately, this is often used as a doctrinal statement meant to exclude non-Christians. ‘Unless you believe in Jesus you can’t be saved,’ some will say. Instead of ‘not letting hearts be troubled’ (14:1), this verse has troubled Christian hearts and those from other religions alike. Continue reading

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Loyalty and Betrayal among Beloved Friends—John 13:18-38

“But in this Gospel, Judas’s action is so reprehensible it is as if the devil himself possessed him (vv. 2, 27). As further evidence, Jesus quotes an apt line from Psalm 41:9—‘Even my bosom friend in whom I trusted, who ate of my bread, has lifted the heel against me.’ (See Jn 13:18.) In that Mediterranean culture, to ‘lift the heel’ means showing the sole of one’s foot to another. It is a great insult, a wish to utterly shame another.” Continue reading

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The Way Up Is Way Down—John 13:1-17

“Actually, there’s a lot going on under the surface of this special Passover meal, but only Jesus and Judas are aware of it. Judas is part of a devilish plot that Jesus strongly suspects, and he realizes this will be his last meal with ‘his own.’ It is ‘during supper’ (v. 2) that he gets up and takes off his outer robe to strip down to the knee-length tunic that characterizes a slave. He ties a towel around his waist, pours water into a washbasin, and starts washing the other men’s feet (13:2-5). This is his last chance to demonstrate the kind of humble caring that members of the family of God need to have for each other.” Continue reading

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Gethsemane in a New Setting—John 12:20-50

“Unlike the Synoptics, however, this fourth Gospel does not describe Jesus as pleading for God to rescue him from death. As we saw in Lesson 25 on the ‘noble shepherd,’ a characteristic of nobility is the voluntary laying down of one’s life for others (John 10:11). In this spirit, Jesus accepts his destiny: ‘It is for this reason that I have come to this hour'(12:27).” Continue reading

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Political Street Theater—John 12:9-19

“Does it matter who came up with the parade idea? Probably not, except that John’s Gospel portrays a logical cause-and-effect. Jesus is already popular among the common people in Jerusalem, and his raising of Lazarus is the final sign of his right to be king in Israel (John 12:18). What better time to show him off than to a city crowded with Passover pilgrims!” Continue reading

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Mary the Anointer—John 12:1-8

“The name ‘Bethany’ means ‘house of affliction’ or ‘house of the poor,’ which had to be outside of Jerusalem for purity reasons. Brian Capper, an Acts scholar, suggests that Martha, Mary, and Lazarus may have had Essene connections and have sponsored a poorhouse close to their home. Perhaps Jesus originally met these siblings through his concern for the poor. If Mary’s ointment was poured out in the presence of poor people who were more used to smelling bad odors, a ‘house filled with the fragrance of the perfume’ (John 12:3) would have been a treat. In their presence, Jesus’s statement would have denoted compassion rather than callousness. Continue reading

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A Tomb with a View—John 11:38-57; 12:9-11

“The miracle of raising the dead is the last and greatest of Jesus’s ‘signs’ in this Gospel. But can it be literally true? In our experience, dead people do not come to life again. And if it did happen, why do the other Gospels omit such a dramatic event?” Continue reading

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A Household of Beloved Disciples—John 11:17-37

“The other unanswered question is how Jesus came to know and love this family. Was he a cousin or other relative? Did the sisters run a hostel for pilgrims coming to worship at Jerusalem, and he stayed with them when he came? Whatever brought them together, it was such a loving, intimate friendship that both sisters felt free to reproach Jesus for not coming sooner. Only these three siblings are known in this Gospel as ‘beloved disciples.’” Continue reading

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An (Un)Fortunate Illness? — John 11:1-16

“Leaving Thelma, I knew I would never see her again in this life. I did not expect Jesus to raise her as he had raised Lazarus. If we are older than 8 or 9, we know that dead persons do not come to life again. What then can we learn from a story about a man pulled out of his grave alive after four days? Is it a story of hope? Or is it only a legend conveniently omitted by the Synoptic Gospels?” Continue reading

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