This morning we took a long look at John 8:12–20, where we encounter the famous saying “I am the light of the world” (8:12) as well as the charge that the Pharisees “do not know my Father” (8:19).
We discussed the natural tendency of religious communities to draw boundaries to distinguish ourselves from the larger society or competing communities. We considered the characterization of the Pharisees in this text in light of the growing separation between Christianity and Judaism that was happening in the late first century CE.
I had hoped we would also have time to discuss John 9:1–12, but that did not happen. We will start with that passage, where Jesus heals a man born blind, next Sunday. I hope to see you on March 5!
On Sunday we will read two stories from John’s Gospel. The first (John 8:12-20) contains one of the “I am” sayings (“I am the light of the world”) and ends with the curious statement “no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come.”
This week we will look at a passage that is not found in any of the earliest manuscripts of John’s Gospel. In fact, it does not appear in any manuscript until at least the fifth century CE. Still, the story is clearly much older than that. We have good evidence that it was known as early as the mid third century.
This story has played a significant role in shaping Christian understanding of God’s mercy. Is it to be rejected because it is not original to John’s Gospel? If so, what does that mean about the message it teaches?
What role should a story such as this play in our theology?
Tomorrow morning (Sunday, February 12) we will look John 6:16–24 where Jesus walks on the Sea of Galilee. We will compare this story briefly with its equivalents in Matthew and Mark and look at a significant archaeological find that helps illustrate the scene assumed by the story.
If time permits, we will also look at one of the “I am” statements in John’s Gospel. In 6:25–59, Jesus refers to himself at “The bread of life.”
Tomorrow morning (Sunday, February 5) we will discuss the third of Jesus’ “signs” in the Gospel of John. In John 5:1-15 Jesus heals a man on the Sabbath who has been ill for thirty eight years. After the healing, Jesus charges the man, “Do not sin any more, so that nothing worse happens to you.”
The healing sets up a conflict between Jesus and an amorphous group called simply “the Jews”.
We will examine the theological assumptions behind this story as well as the continued problem posed by references to “the Jews” in John’s Gospel.
If time remains after we discuss this passage, we will move on to John 6:1-14.