April 4, 2011

editorial additions

If you read this blog regularly, you probably know that I am a rather hard to define type of person. I am an arch-conservative on some issues, while my heart bleed liberal blue on others. It is a really fun way to live; it means that most everyone will be upset with me at some point.

Usually, I stand on the conservative side of scriptural interpretation. Oh, I believe that we all interpret scriptures, I'm not that conservative, but I'm not all tied up in the historical stuff. If the Gospel says Jesus said something, I believe that Jesus said it. The Jesus Seminar is a waste of time and colored ink, if you ask me.

There are, however, certain passages that make me really wonder.  Passages that don't sound like Jesus at all. Passages like John 11:42. Jesus is standing before the grave of his friend Lazarus when, in verse 41, he looks up to heaven and says, "Father, I thank you for having heard me." That makes sense; he just raised a dead man to new life. I get that Jesus would give God the glory, that's what he does, that's how the Trinity thing works.

But then in verse 42, Jesus continues, "I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me."

There are a few other examples of this type of verbiage coming from Jesus, but I'm not convinced that Jesus would really say something like this. It sounds way too much like John trying to prove his theological point. There must have been something sticky in John's church about Jesus' relationship with the Father. John seems to feel the need to make it clear that Jesus didn't have to thank the Father, he didn't have to worry that God wouldn't hear him. He did all that stuff for everybody else, as if raising Lazarus from the dead wasn't enough to make the people get that this guy was doing something special.

I'm not one to deny that Jesus said something that the Bible says he said, but, well, this really feels like an editorial addition to me.

I'm not so sure this little aside in verse 42, be it actually from Jesus' lips or, more preferably, from John's pen. It weakens the scene for me, makes it heady and theological rather than amazing and miraculous. Still, I'd never preach any of this; why take the story down the tangent of a tangent?

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