It took a year to read the Bible, then almost 9 months to read the Apocrypha. Now, I'm going to try to offer reflections on the Narrative Lectionary. But, I won't be posting daily--at least, for a while.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I Am the Way, a Reflection on John 14:4-7

Thomas thinks that Jesus is talking about geography when he says that "You know the way to the place that I am going." Modern Christians tend to think that Jesus meant that only Christians can get to heaven.

According to O'Day and Hylen's commentary on John, both interpretations are a misunderstanding of this gospel's message:
...the "I am" saying of Jesus' response (v.6) shows that "way" refers to the revelatory work of Jesus...similar to the gate and shepherd sayings of chapter 10; Jesus identifies himself as the point of access to life with God (gate, way) and the embodiment of that life (shepherd, life). Like the shepherd imagery, this language is familiar from the Old Testament. The "way" is usually associated with God's law an dGod's wisdom: "Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth" (Psalm 86:11; see Psalm 119:1,3, 5, 27, 33; Proverbs 2:8, 12, 13, 20). Moses' farewell discourse likewise associates life with obeying God's commandments (Deuteronomy 30:15-20). Judaism affirmed that the way to God was through the practice of and meditation on God's law. John affirms this basic sentiment and specifies that Jesus, God's Word, is that way to life....

O'Day and Hylen caution us to understand that John's gospel has as its central theological conviction that Jesus is the tangible presence of God in the world. People by encountering Jesus could have a new experience of God. John is concerned with helping Christians recognize and name God.

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