Archive for May, 2015

Though we would never willingly hire its services, grief is an accomplished unifier.

One of the ways that Jesus’ experience takes in that of pained humanity is his acquaintance with grief, and of its adoptive requirements.

But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. (John 19:25–27 ESV)

The ‘disciple whom Jesus loved’ is likely a humble self-depiction of the Fourth Gospel’s author. Some strength of friendship, very close to sibling affection, linked Jesus and this man in an almost family way. Among Jesus’ dying words from the cross comes this formalizing of family, produced not by biology’s traceable accidents but rather by the unforeseen sinews of friendship that link friends more closely than brothers, and occasionally draw a weeping mother into its awesome web. (more…)

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Jesus’ claims the ultimate solidarity with those whom he calls ‘my sheep’.

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. (John 10:11–13 ESV)

It is possible to imagine that even the most responsible hired hand would practice the craft of shepherding with excellence.

But not at the cost of his life. (more…)

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We find it convenient to hide behind our supposed complexity, our nuance, our shades of gray.

There exists a genuine sophistication, and it is entirely worthy of admiration. Yet we so easily fall prey to its diminutive imposter: my complexity as my refusal to give an answer to those who matter most. To stake a claim. To declare who I am and commit to remaining that person, growing as that person, becoming strong and wise as that person.

We prefer to keep all our convenient options open. (more…)

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Misplaced certainty leads to the most regrettable errors.

Jesus’ teaching moved the hearts and minds of the masses. They had heard nothing like this, so compelling it stirred the deepest longings, so clear it seemed a window into truth, so accompanied by power that it must have come from God himself.

Yet they knew their facts, and those facts left no room for Jesus. (more…)

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Thing is, the biblical Proverbs have less to say about YHWH than you’d expect.

He is assumed to be the guarantor of the way things are, because that’s the way he made them. But he’s hardly the loquacious divinity who can’t stop talking. Rather, one learns about him indirectly, by scrutinizing what he’s made. (more…)

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Truth is a little tricky to corner.

It does not surrender itself easily, requiring of its seeker a bit of diligence to prove his or her worth.

Biblical wisdom traffics in two dynamics that work out this evasiveness in space and time. (more…)

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Jesus performed surgery with questions.

The gospels describe him wielding the interrogative like a scalpel. At first sight, these can sound like stupid questions. No doubt onlookers scoffed. He must have known this, yet he pressed into his surgical task with uncommon persistence. (more…)

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