This is a series on exploring the book of John for rookies and experts alike! Start here and read more here if you want to follow along.
The author of the gospel of John begins by telling the reader who Jesus is from the outset, similar to the way a musical overture functions. In a dramatic and sweeping pronouncement, John 1:1 declares that the (Greek) Logos, or the Word, was eternal, was with God, and was God himself. He likens the Logos to light, life, and the One and Only Son of God (John 1:4, 14, NIV). John then goes on to illustrate the assertions of the prologue by showing Jesus in a series of stories of personal encounters between himself and individuals (or groups.) As the reader reads through the progression of encounters, a picture of Jesus beings to emerge.
This is a series on exploring the book of John for rookies and experts alike! Start here, if you want to follow along.
Personally, I have always been drawn to the gospel of John as a favorite account. The interaction between Jesus and the Samaritan woman of chapter 4 has long been a story from scripture that has encouraged me, especially when Jesus describes himself as the well of life-giving water. The fourth gospel has a way with words that draws a dramatic and compelling picture—imagery of light and dark, good and evil, the kingdom of heaven and the world below. This kind of epic story telling is hard to resist!
‘everyday theology’ posts are bite-sized ideas to chew on from scripture, from other works of theology, and from life. feel free to share wherever you hang out on the internet!
Paul’s contrast of the Spirit and flesh in Galatians is strong (and not without some dramatic language!) He uses the Greek word “pistis” (meaning: trust) in this context in chapter 3—challenging the Galatians on the issue of whether they would put their trust in the message of the gospel that they first believed (as Abraham did), or whether they would put their trust in the “works of the flesh” (likely, circumcision as an outward sign.)
To be “sons of Abraham” (3:6-9) means that our righteousness before God comes by way of our trusting in God. It is by faith (belief and trust working together) that we are made right before God and are able to live by the power of the Holy Spirit. Faith is the living out of belief, as we see exemplified in Abraham’s life. He trusted God.
Doesn’t this time of year just make you want to learn something new?
It’s officially autumn (or, fawl, as we Southerners say) and for anyone enrolled in school–that means new classes! There’s a chill in the air so it’s finally appropriate to dig out that old college sweatshirt and wear it with your favorite pair of perfectly-broken-in jeans. While we’re at it, go ahead and fill up your travel mug with some fresh coffee and let’s hit the books, okay? If you’re hungry to learn, grab your Bible, a notebook, and something to write with and let’s get started.
“For perhaps obvious reasons, I love this painting by Carvaggio immensely–and spent a solid hour looking at it and the companion pieces when in Rome this past month. The standard interpretation is that Matthew is the bearded gentleman on the left, with the hand pointing at himself. But I persist in thinking Matthew is the young man slumped over his coins that he is reluctant to give up, and that the finger points at him.”
Matthew Lee Anderson, “The Path Before Us”
For more thought-provoking commentary on theology, ethics, and society, follow him here on the Twitters and consider subscribing to Matt’s weekly newsletter. You can do so for $3, or apply for one of the discounted rates. It’s some of the best quality writing on the intersection of these topics that I’ve come across…well worth the scrilla.
This is a continuation of a series on Christian Apologetics. For more posts like this,click here, here, and here.
“And who will harm you if you are deeply committed to what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear or be disturbed, but honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. However, do this with gentleness and respect, keeping your conscience clear, so that when you are accused, those who denounce your Christian life will be put to shame.” (1 Peter 3:13-16, HCSB)
Peter is urging the early church to live by the grace of God in every situation, by pursuing goodness and truth, and to allow the chips fall where they may. He does not promise an easy ride or even peace with neighbors, but he does remind them that even if they face suffering or threats for living by the Christian way, they “are blessed.” For Peter, to “honor the Messiah as Lord” means to have the right heart position, one of humility, gentleness, respect, and preparedness. There is also an inherent premise to honoring the Messiah as Lord, which is to recognize that Christ is truth, and we are not. In other words, for the Christian to even begin to give a right defense of the faith (or, “a reason for the hope”), we must first acknowledge and submit to the authority of Jesus Christ, the Truth.
But our culture just doesn’t like to concede to the idea of objective truth, does it?
I grew up in a home that genuinely modeled the truth of God to me.
Every morning, as we ate our cheerios, we read the scriptures together. We talked about God as if he were real, living in our home just down the hall. I came into self-awareness and my own need for redemption at a young age and was baptized in a creek, down in an actual holler. The community that surrounded me was light on doctrine but thick with love. We stood on the creek bank and sang a Petra song, and in that precious moment, a seed was planted within me.
Years later, at important intervals of crisis, the steady presence of the Holy Spirit would find me, like a thick cloud of humidity that I couldn’t escape. God was with me, even in my fear and my running. He would not let me go, even when I wanted to be lost.
This was after he rode into Jerusalem, the city named for shalom~ so much more than peace, but completeness, wholeness, everything-made-right-ness~ on the back of a young donkey. This was after the women and men and children stood waiting for their Savior, eyes turned upward and palm leaves laid down in expectation. This was after a meal with his closest friends, the one where Mary slowly poured precious oil on his feet, the strong fragrance permeating every corner of the house. The friends could still catch a faint whiff of the scent, days later.