Monday, May 8, 2017

John 14:1-14

This passage occurs during the Easter Season in the Revised Common Lectionary, year A, most recently May 14, 2017.
"I am the way, the truth and the life."  These three words in Greek are as multilayered as they are in English.  In fact, I put no special entry for them.  What does truth mean?  What does life mean?  What does way mean?  Perhaps the best story to explain this is found in the book of Acts, with our doubting Philip.  In the eighth chapter, the Spirit works with Philip in some profound ways! On the way, he preaches the truth and the Eunuch is given the life.  He does the work of Christ.  Does this satisfy you?  Well, don't let your hearts be troubled because, just like Philip, God works through us imperfect, doubting and sinful disciples to preach the truth to people, on the way, that they might have life, and have it abundantly. 

Key Words
ταρασσεσθω ("troubled" or "grieved", a form of ταρασσεσθω, 14:1).  Jesus himself will be grieved in John 12:27 and 13:21.  Here though he tells the disciples not to grieve.  Perhaps this a beautiful example of the communicatio idiomatum (the exchange of properties between God and man in Jesus Christ on the cross, often called the Glorious Exchange by Luther).  Jesus takes on our grief so that we don't have to grieve anymore.

πιστευετε ("believe" or "trust" 14:1).  This is a second week of class vocabulary word.  However, it is worth pointing out that in the Gospel of John, faith is never a noun, but is always a verb -- believing.  Faith is always an act, never a concept!

οικια - μονη  ("house" and "rooms" 14:2)  The NRSV butchers this one.  Yes, a μονη does mean a dwelling place and does come from the Greek for dwell/abide, μενω, a word of great importance in John's Gospel.  But it sounds so abstract!   οικια does not mean mansion, but I suppose if God lives there, its a big house. 

αρκει ("satisfy," form of αρκεω, 14:8)  Philipp earlier complains that a huge amount of bread wouldn't be enough to satisfy the crowd; now he claims that seeing the Father will satisfy him.  Obviously Phillip doesn't get it.  You might even say that this is Phillip's grand Peteresque moment.  Philipp will go out and on the road, preach the truth and give the eunuch the waters of life.

εργα ("works," 14:12)  Yes folks, faith does make works.  It is worth pointing out that here, there is no subjunctive in this sentence.  Simply, the one who is believe will do works

What I ought write about here is Greek subjunctive, but alas, I've done that a lot recently.  So let's turn to a new subject.  In Greek, you do not need to specify the subject because the verb conjugations reveals this to the listener/reader.  In fact, the subject is often dropped, especially when the subject is clear from the context or it is "I" or "you."  So, for example, in 14:7, the English reads:  "If you know me, you will know my father."  If you read the Greek, you will read:
ει εγνωκατε με και τον πατερα μου γνωσεσθε
Notice the lack of "you."  The verb endings reveal the subject as "you" to the Greek reader/listener.  However, in verse six, when Jesus says, "I am the way, the truth and the life" he includes the subject, the pronoun "I."  He says, εγω ειμι.  The word εγω is unnecessary because ειμι means "I am."  Normally the use of a pronoun with a conjugated verb is simply done for emphasis.  To be translated "I, I mean I, am the way."  Something else may be going on here though!  In the OT, God will also use the phrase εγω ειμι to name himself.  Like in Exodus 3:14  "I am who I am" begins with εγω ειμι. Often times in the Gospel, Jesus seems to refer to himself as God by calling himself εγω ειμι.  Like in Matthew 14:17 Jesus tells them not to be afraid as he walks across the water, for "It is I" or in Greek: εγω ειμι.  Peter responds by calling him κυριε, which means Lord, another name for God, and then Peter follows him out of the boat.  In John 18:6, when Jesus refers to himself as εγω ειμι, all the soliders fall in reverence, because Jesus is declaring himself God.  So, what about John 14:6 and the other εγω ειμι sayings in John, of which there are many?  Are these all declarations of Jesus divinity?  Yes!  John does play on this ancient name for God, but in Jesus Christ we continue to discover anew God's identity:  Here, the way, truth and life.

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