Kerdh; The Cornish for Journey.

Reading material to stimulate the mind, inspire the heart and bring hope to the soul.

Kerdh; The Cornish for Journey.

Reading material to stimulate the mind, inspire the heart and bring hope to the soul.

3rd Sunday in Lent- a Bible study on John 2

Read John 2:13-22

 The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. 15 And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. 16 And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father's house a house of trade.” 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” 18 So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple,[a] and will you raise it up in three days?” 21 But he was speaking about the temple of his body. 22 When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

Although John’s Gospel is not the Gospel of Social justice, with a little bit of understanding of the socio-economic climate at the time, the message of a call to social action becomes stronger. The call to recognise the relationship between created and creator, and the indwelling spirit of God within every element of creation cannot but be a call to a more loving and therefore just society. John 2 Is the central frugal part on which all this turns. The abundance and grace of the wedding at Cana, followed by the profiteering of the temple traders provoking images of Old Testament prophets railing against religious norms.

According to Gail O’Day the fact that the incident happens at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry as opposed to just before the passion is important in establishing what the Johnannine Jesus mission was all about. It set the scene, provided the prism through which the latter part of the Gospel can be seen. In the words of Leonardo Boff; “God does not side with the mighty, who have the law at their disposition and utilize it to their own advantage. God sides with those violated in their dignity and their justice.” Now there are many issues in the passage, many focus on the symbolic rebuilding of the temple of jesus’ body in three days. Others as jesus’ critique on the world of commerce. Goodwin take a different slant, it was the exclusivity of the jewish religion at its most important festival. The poor and the gentiles were prevented from worshipping, and that says Goodwin is the crucial part of the story.Goodwin elaborates; “The worship space taken up for trading was taken away from those who could not complain about being marginalized: the poor and the Gentiles who, although allowed to worship within the Temple, were still considered outsiders.” The place for the Gentiles to worship was dominated by the market traders, therefore further exclusivising the social system in favour of a select few.

Commentators agree, that though many traders were outside of the preincts, much like football scarf sellers selling on the streets to Wembly, there was still authorised sellers in the precincts. At this time, there were taxes to the roman authorities taxes to Herod, in his Antonia fortress which had been rebuilt to quell Jewish insurrection, rather than repel invaders and of course then the temple demands. A simple agrarian peasant stood no chance.

Brodie picks up on the placement of the story in relation to Cana. Cana, has delicate references to the passion, “third day, my hour, revealed his glory”, and in the temple story immediately after, “limitation, tension and death.” Miranda back in the 70’s says the placement of the temple story is because John is trying to get to the heart of John’s message in a Gospel exploring the essence of Jesus rather than a narration of the Jesus story. And lets face it, If Jesus had started his ministry with this action at number two in the chronology then his ministry would have been very short lived. No John , not Jesus, is making a point with the placement of the story, and that point says Goodwin is, to massively paraphrase, the exclusivising of the religion.

John’s Gospel focus’ on the six signs of Jesus according to Harris. The six signs that were not for the authorities but for the ostracised, the non-people. Goodwin:- “Replacement of Jewish institutions that have become corrupt begins in the Temple. Although never acceptable, behaviors that had become commonplace among the Jews, such as marginalization of the poor and the Gentiles by using their worship space as a marketplace, must be reformed. Love would take the place of legalisms. As the ways of the old Temple were destroyed and replaced by a new ethic, the destruction of the old Temple can be viewed as a transition from law-focused Judaism to a realized eschatology. Instead of the commandments that were the traditional identifiers of God’s people, love for one another would become the characteristic that identified people as followers of Jesus. By removing the money changers and animals from the Temple, Jesus initiated this transition.”

Goodwin writes the obvious, but in a very succinct way; Sad “ is the realization that, for the most part, the church has ignored, and continues to ignore, the issue of oppression while at the same time claiming to promote the values of Jesus. There are many different types of oppression, and it seems that every country or civilization faces its own unique challenges when dealing with the problem. This has led to the development of many different theological views, known categorically as “liberation theology,” that aim to alleviate conditions that promote gross inequalities among humans. Historically arising in Latin America as a “human response to the large-scale human suffering that is so manifest there..., it arose as a theology of the poor, for the poor, on the side of the poor, committed to the liberation of those who are literally in captivity.” Jose Miguez Bonino states that “poverty is not a hazard of fortune or a fact of nature but the result of certain people’s greed and injustice.” We cannot therefore be a Church that allows, turns a blind eye to, encourages or benefits from a society that creates exclusivity, especially within social economics or access to God through worship. For God, according to the wedding at Cana, is a God or great grace and abundance and anything that contradicts this is an anthesis or all that we purport to believe. .

3rd Sunday in Lent

Lent 3

Read this very readable passage from the Gospel of John.  

Now when Jesus[a] learned that the Pharisees had heard, “Jesus is making and baptizing more disciples than John” 2 —although it was not Jesus himself but his disciples who baptized— 3 he left Judea and started back to Galilee. 4 But he had to go through Samaria. 5 So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon. 7 A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8 (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.)[b] 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?” 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come back.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you[c] say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I am he,[d] the one who is speaking to you.” 27 Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you want?” or, “Why are you speaking with her?” 28 Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, 29 “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah,[e] can he?” 30 They left the city and were on their way to him. 31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, “Rabbi, eat something.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” 33 So the disciples said to one another, “Surely no one has brought him something to eat?” 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. 35 Do you not say, ‘Four months more, then comes the harvest’? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. 36 The reaper is already receiving[f] wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37 For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.” 39 Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I have ever done.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his word. 42 They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.”

John four, what does it mean, what is the point of it- and we could point to an explicit reference to Jesus being the saviour of the world, but again what does it actually mean. Saviour of the world, saviour to save us from illness and death, from anger and greed- obviously not, saviour from our own selves, from our own sins, to bring us back to God- all Christian imagery to give us hope. We can look at the minutiae but let us take a step back. In the reading from exodus the Israelites cried out for water and God through Moses gave it to them. They cried out for their desires and they received them. Not that God didn't know, they would not have gone thirsty but he responded giving them something that they understood, because it linked into what they were looking for. They understood the almighty loving nature of God in a way that spoke to them because it was relevant. Let us therefore go back to the Gospel of John. Forget all the metaphors of living water, let us get back to what Jesus was saying. Jesus was saying that God had come amongst them, and was their, and he used an analogy that wasn't necessarily well though out, or planned, but rather the metaphor that was relevant. They were at a well, and he used that place and purpose to describe the loving nature of God. In another context he would have used another analogy. Sometimes we get bogged down in the detail and we forget the simple message of Jesus which he expressed in many different ways depending on his audience. This is what he always did, be relevant and comprehensible that people may understand. The story of the water melon There is a story in Sufi-ism-Once upon a time there was a man who strayed from his own country into the world known as the Land of Fools. He soon saw a number of people flying in terror from a field where they had been trying to reap wheat. “There is a monster in that field”, they told him. He looked and he saw that it was a watermelon. He offered to kill the monster fro them. When he had cut the melon from its stalk he took a slice and began to eat it. The people became even more terrified of him than they had been of the melon. They drove him away with pitchforks crying, “He will kill us next, unless we get rid of him.” It so happened that at another time another man also strayed into the Land of Fools, and the same thing started to happen to him. But, instead of offering to help them with the monster he agreed with them that it must be dangerous and by tiptoeing away from it with them he gained their confidence. He spent a long time with them in their houses until he could teach them, little by little the basic facts which would enable them not only to lose their fear of melons, but even to cultivate them themselves. Jesus was the second melon hunter who took his time to work alongside the people with whom he lived and gave them the strength to go out for themselves. What we do as a people of faith is to explain our faith in ways our listeners understand, we tell the stories of Jesus, and our story is now apart of his story, so we tell our story that as the Samaritans said to the woman, it is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard of ourselves, and we know that this truly is the saviour of the world.