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  • The escalation: Putting Faith to the test (Part 1)

    The escalation: Putting Faith to the test (Part 1)

    Faith is not Faith unless it is tested. And a test is not a test unless it puts before us the possibility of being offended at God. The stumbling stone can only do its job if it is placed right in the middle of our path.

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  • What happened between chapters 5 and 6?

    What happened between chapters 5 and 6?

    John’s gospel is not one of the synoptic gospels. That simply means it does not “look like the other” three. That doesn’t mean that the others were somehow derived from a common previously existing “original text” that is now lost whereas John’s followed a different tradition. There is no proof of that that could stand up in court. Remember, Scholars have to make a living too. And beyond the objective detective work they engage in when examining ancient witnesses, they also can have their own subjective opinions. But since not one of us can hop into a time machine and go back and see the original compilation of the gospels, all we can do is take the gospels we have at face value.

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  • The escalation: “Who do you say that I am?”

    The escalation: “Who do you say that I am?”

    As Jesus and his disciples were traveling together through the villages around Caesarea Philippi, he asked them, “Who do people say that I am?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” And then Jesus asked: “But what about you? Who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16:14-15). If you have read the story, you know that it was Simon Peter who had a definite answer. But the more important question today is: What do you think? What is your answer?

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  • The beginning of the escalation

    The beginning of the escalation

    Today I want to wrap up Chapter 5 of the Gospel of John. And we get again to a point where it seems to me that John assumes we are already acquainted with the events in Jesus’ life that are recorded in the other (synoptic) Gospels. If you follow them chronologically, you realize that by the time Jesus heals the man at the pool of Bethesda, he has had several adversarial encounters with the religious leaders: They have even accused him of doing miracles by the power of the Devil. Jesus, in turn, has challenged their hypocrisy openly. We need to keep this dynamic in mind as we come to the rest of Chapter 5.

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  • Whether you believe or not. Part 4 of 3

    Whether you believe or not. Part 4 of 3

    You can tell by the title that I had not planned on writing one more section on this part of my ongoing study through John’s gospel. But in leaving part 3 behind, a nagging question kept coming back to me: How many people were there gathered around the pool of Bethesda? The passage clearly implies there was a crowd there because Jesus disappeared into that crowd after healing the infirm man. Which means there were a lot of people left unhealed that day.

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  • Whether you believe or not. Part 3 of 3

    Whether you believe or not. Part 3 of 3

    Back from a brief detour into the gospel according to Luke, we return to John’s gospel, chapter 5. After spending some time in Galilee, and being rejected in his native Nazareth, we find Jesus again in Jerusalem. In John’s gospel the passage we are about to read is thematically connected to the healing of the courtier’s son in Capernaum (part 1 of this series). That man came to Jesus looking for a miracle and, even though Jesus did not respond the way he wanted him to respond, he took Jesus at his word and received the miracle. We could argue that that courtier had some measure of faith to begin with; after all, he came looking for Jesus. But what about those who don’t even have a tiny bit of faith, who don’t even know there is a Jesus, are they out of luck?

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