The earliest Christians followed a Jewish tradition of pausing to pray, preferably together, first thing in the morning, about mid morning, at noon, about mid afternoon, and in the evening. “Just a Note” posts are brief observations made from Scripture readings not related to a lectionary. If I have one to post, it normally appears about 9:00 in the morning, at “the hour of prayer.”
There are several ways to read this paragraph in John 5:41-44. We might see Jesus’ strong condemnation. He could appear forceful, even arrogant. After all, he is accusing people of rejecting God’s glory. They don’t have God’s love in them. They receive their own opinions rather than God’s authority. These could be fighting words, from the Jesus who is forcefully rebuking people who have rejected him.
Could we read the paragraph a different way? The very same words and sentences can picture a sorrowful Jesus. Here he stands with the glorious revelation of God’s grace and forgiveness. He’s got God’s love to give out. Are the people going to receive it? No, they prefer to receive someone who will come in his own name. They do not seek out glory from God, which leads to their restoration. Rather, they seek out glory from man, which leads to their subjugation. It is a profoundly sad speech.
How will we read it? It’s the same speech. How is Jesus communicating to my readers at this moment through this passage? Any way you consider it, he is calling us to look to him for help and protection.
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