The Curmudgeon


Sunday, November 04, 2018

Bad Theology

Text for today: John 5 xx-xxiii; John 12 xxxvi-xlix

Jesus claims the authority to give life to whomever He wishes, and also to execute judgement upon them. Later, Jesus states that He has not come to judge the world but to save it. On both occasions He emphasises that He speaks not of His own accord but with the authority of His Father.

On the first occasion, Jesus is addressing the Jews, who are indignant because He has healed a man on the Sabbath. In a resounding example of His characteristic humility, Jesus boasts of His ability to resurrect whomever He pleases, and then proclaims that the Father has committed all power of judgement to Him. He then demands that everyone should honour Him as they would honour God.

On the second occasion Jesus is chastened, if not exactly humbled: He speaks from hiding, whence He has fled because God has made the people sceptical of His authority in order to fulfil a prophecy of Isaiah. Many people, even among the powerful, nevertheless believe in Jesus and are thereby presumably defying both Isaiah and God. However, they are keeping quiet about it for fear of the Pharisees, and also doubtless from respect for Isaiah's reputation. Although He was fond of quoting Isaiah when it suited him, an irritated Jesus repeats that anyone who does not believe in Him does not believe in God.

Having once more asserted that He is one with the Father, Jesus asserts with virtually His next breath that He has not, after all, come to judge the world. Instead, those who fail to receive His message will be judged on the last day by His words, which are spoken on the Father's authority. Thus, having proclaimed His identity with the Father, Jesus claims the difference between Himself and the Father as a means of escaping His own moral responsibility for the agony and death which He has spent His ministry gleefully predicting will result from the Father's judgement.


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