Monday, July 9, 2012

Meditations in John Chapter 8 – III

You judge according to the flesh…John 8:`5a

When Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil their eyes were opened. Ever since then we have been cursed with natural sight and understanding, sin affecting the way we know and perceive ourselves, others, the world, and the universe. We live in the night but don’t know it, and without the equivalent of night-vision goggles we do not see things as they really are – and even when we do see beyond the flesh we see, as Paul says, darkly; as Lewis might say: we live in the Shadowlands.

In John Chapter 9 Jesus heals a blind man; it is a double healing for the man is not only given physical sight but also spiritual sight. As Jesus says in John 9:39 and 41: For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind…If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, “We see,” your sin remains.

The NIV’s rendering of 8:15, “You judge by human standards”, fails the reader by substituting the Greek word for “flesh” with “human standards” – an interpretive leap not designed to force the reader to contemplate the mystery of the way the word “flesh” is used throughout the Bible. It is as if the NIV itself becomes an example of judging by the flesh by insisting on reducing the text to the readily understandable – apparently the less we wrestle with the Biblical text the better off we’ll be – but how will a baby’s muscles develop if it is never allowed to do for itself?

Notice throughout John 8 Jesus’ portrayal of His relationship with the Father. How many times does Jesus reference where He came from? How many times does He refer to the Father’s sending Him? What elements of the relationship of Father and Son do you see in this passage? This passage is not to be read as a newspaper column; read it and turn the page, read it and turn the page, turn the page, turn the page, turn the page. Consider that this passage portrays the relationship of the Father and Son, it provides us entrance into a deep mystery in God – would someone visiting the Louvre hastily pass by the Mona Lisa? Yet we speed through the words of God on earth – how can this be? Perhaps it is a good example of the burden of viewing things through the eyes of flesh?

And if Jesus speaks these things to those hostile to Him, how much more does He desire to open doors of beauty to those who name Him as Lord? The Upper Room of John chapters 13 – 17 draw us deeper into the Trinity.

To those who are content to call Jesus a good man: read this passage and tell us how He can be a good man. Delusional? A liar? If Jesus isn’t telling the truth in the passage then He is either delusional or a liar for only a mad man or a liar would make the outlandish statements that Jesus is making…unless He is telling the truth.

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