Tag Archives: Jesus

Footprints in the sand…

You are all, I am sure, at least vaguely familiar with the “Footprints in the Sand” poem.  If not, here’s the poem and here’s a typical picture with the poem.

Somehow I ended up at a blog which has a section on bad Christian art.  Readers sometimes post captions to the posted pictures.  Here’s one with the winning caption:

“When you only saw one set of footprints in the sand, that’s when I let the bear eat you.”

Actually, the title of the post is pretty hilarious, too: “Jesus wants you to prevent forest fires.”

Metamorphosis

Just a thought I had as I was ruminating on these words of Jesus: “Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which people may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever.” (John 6:49-51a).

I’m gonna throw this thought out there; if you like it, you can take it, and if you don’t, you can send it right back:

I’ve wondered before about the possibility of there being death prior to the “fall” of humans–possibly even death as a part of the created order.  I’ve considered this from a somewhat scientific angle (so far as my limited scientific capacity allowed), but not from a theological or ontological angle.  (This is all speculative, of course.)

What if death was originally meant to be a sort of metamorphosis in the process of creation and that, prior to the fall, humans would naturally come out on the other side of death in a sort of resurrection into the final form of the physical life?  That is, what if creation (or human development specifically) is not complete until a human had passed through death into new life?  This came to mind as I was reading this passage because while Jesus promises eternal life (“not die,” “will live forever”), his disciples still died.  People of faith around the world die natural deaths every day.  It’s a question I’ve had for a while.

Today, however, it occurred to me that Jesus’ death was necessary in order for him to enter into the eternal life.  That doesn’t sound very profound, but listen:  Jesus’ resurrected body is completely physical, but in a way which we have not experienced.  He eats and drinks and can be touched, but evidently he also walks through walls.  Could the transition between our physicality and “resurrected physicality” be made without dying?

Going back to the result of Adam and Eve’s disobedience in Genesis 3, then, this idea would mean that the result of this disobedience was not death in itself but a specifically permanent death–that is, death which is not passed through, but one which is permanent, without resurrection into a new physical reality.

Interesting idea.  But possibly crazy.

A story of blood and dust

from John Frye’s reflections arising out of his reading of The Aims of Jesus:

Christians primarily encounter events in history surrounding Jesus of Nazareth. We do not encounter tidy spiritual concepts sanitized of dust and blood. We walk into the dreadful passion and the stunning resurrection of Jesus. Events.Time, place, people, events. If you wipe the dust and blood off Christianity, you don’t have what Jesus offers. You have a pathetic clone fitted for middle class America.

Does it matter that we start with narrative and not with principle? You would be inclined to think “no” if you pay attention to a lot of evangelicalism. For most, historical event is simply the disposable husk that brings us the eternal kernels of truth. All that waste on God’s part to jump start the saving process! We are too sophisticated with things like: “...Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter,and then to the Twelve.”  Died (event). Buried (event). Raised (event). Appeared (event). “Feed me meat,” so many say, “I know this kid’s stuff.” People are too big for the story, the narrative. They want the concepts, the principles, the tidy to-do list of applications. They want a piece of Platonized jerky. Meat.

Christianity is all about Christ. We want to change it to “us-ianity” and thus make it all about us. Paul could not have said it more bluntly, “We proclaim Christ and him crucified.” We want to hear, “We proclaim you and you saved.” (read it all)

Good stuff.

In the discrepancies in the recorded words of Jesus

Yesterday morning I jogged alone.  Not having a conversation partner (yes, we talk while we jog), I listened instead to half of a lecture Jesus by N.T. Wright.  He made a remarkable observation about the differences between the Gospel records of Jesus’ words–remarkable and so obvious that I wonder why hadn’t thought about it myself.

He said, in effect, that since Jesus was an itinerant teacher he would have probably had similar things to say in different places, much like Wright himself would give a similar lecture in different places.  But when you teach a similar lesson repeatedly, you don’t always say the same things or say them in quite the same ways.  Hence, a reasonable explanation for some of the differences between the gospels.

I suppose, too, you can add the filter/perspective of the various hearers as a factor in the differences as well.  If you and I hear a lecture and then write a report on what was said, our reports won’t be identical.  And that different witness sources would have heard the teachings in different times and places.

For some reason or other, I had never considered the possibility of Jesus teaching the same lesson over and over again in a variety of locations.  My working assumption (albeit unconscious) was that, for instance, the material spoken at the so-called “Sermon on the Mount” was only taught once and in that location.  But there really is no reason that I’m aware of to think that Jesus taught the “Sermon on the Mount” only on the mount and nowhere else.

N.T. Wright does it again!

In other news: my first critical book review was returned to me and I did very well in terms of my grade.  Encouragement always comes at the right time, doesn’t it?

The Kingdom begins with His death.

Jesus’ rebuke to the unseeing pair on the road to Emmaus was not that they had been looking for a kingdom, and should not have been.  Their fault  is that, just like Peter at Caesarea Philippo, they were failing to see that the suffering of the Messiah is the inauguration of the kingdom.  “Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”  “Glory” here cannot mean the ascension, which has not been recounted yet… Might it not then mean…that the cross itself is seen as fulfilling the kingdom promise?  Here at the cross is the man who loves his enemies, the man whose righteousness is greater than that of the Pharisees, who being rich became poor, who gives his robe to those who took his cloak, who prays for those who despitefully use him.  The cross is note a detour or a hurdle on the way to the kingdom, nor is it even the way of the kingdom; it is the kingdom come.

— John Howard Yoder, The Politics of Jesus (p.51)

(Yes, I’m being proactive with my schoolwork–school doesn’t start until Wednesday.  We’ll see how long this lasts.  I have 5 books to read by the end of September/beginning of October, on top of daily text reading for classes and Hebrew memorization, so I had better become a proactive person.)

Miscellany

The blogging malaise continues.  At this rate, I may start posting some of my sermon material.  Would that be too pretentious?  I suppose I could post it without saying it’s sermon material, but I’m sure it would be riddled with tells.

* * *

On Sunday my thoughts for the sermon were based around the question, Jesus is born; now what?  Took a while to find direction for that one.  The business of preparing for Christmas and various Christmas events made it (ironically) hard for me to focus, but I did finally put it together.

In recent years it has not only bothered me that I fall into the “what am I getting?” Christmas mindset, neglecting the sacred element of Christmas for the materialistic in spite of good intentions at the beginning of the Advent season, but it also has started to bother me that Christmas in practice begins and ends on December 25 (in spite of the 12 days the Christian calendar gives it).  Boxing Day is shopping day and then life goes back to normal.

But Christmas signifies a beginning–it signifies that God is on the move–and Jesus, when he calls us to “follow me and I will teach you to fish for people”, invites us to participate in the new thing that God is doing.  So really, unless we really don’t get it, life could not or should not ever go back to “normal” after Christmas.  Christmas is not the end but the beginning.

I believe this to be true.  But I commented to someone after the service that I felt like a bit of a fraud when I wrote and preached the sermon, because if history is any indication, my life is likely to go back to “normal” after Christmas.  Frustrating.  I suspect I don’t fully “get” it yet.

* * *

I’ve been thinking about how fast the beginning of 2009 will pass.  Next week I have a normal work week. On Wednesday of the following week, I fly out to Summerland with Olivia to visit my family for a couple of days.  The Monday following Luke goes for ear and throat surgery.  Shorter work week.  The week following that is a normal work week.  Then I fly out to Chicago for a week (provided my passport application isn’t rejected) for a church conference.  Then it’s almost the middle of February.  In the middle of all that I have a couple of sermons to preach (which inevitably requires evening preparation time) plus seminary work to do (on top of “normal” obligations).  In March Luke turns 4; in April Olivia turns 2 and Dixie turns 30.  April may also include another trip to BC.  Then in May I’ll be struggling to get everything done for the June 10 deadline for my seminary course.  And who knows what summer and autumn have in store.

2009 will pass very quickly.

Jesus the jokester

[Jesus] speaks in parables, and though we have approached these parables reverentially all these many years and have heard them expounded as grave and reverent vehicles of holy truth, I suspect that many if not all of them were originally not grave at all but were antic, comic, often more than just a little shocking.  I suspect that Jesus spoke many of his parables as a kind of sad and holy joke and that may be part of why he seemed reluctant to explain them because if you have to explain a joke, you might as well save your breath.  (Frederick Buechner, Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy & Fairy Tale, p. 63)

If that’s too unsettling for some of you, as I imagine it might be, he carries on: Continue reading