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March 11, 1994     The Message
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March 11, 1994

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[, 1994 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 9 "Commentary-- Exaltation of Jesus: God&apos;s love for the world tlOSPel Commentary for John that the Son of Man must be tea 13, 1994, Fourth Sunday lifted up is a theological develop- at, Cycle B, John 3:14.21. ment expressed in the a biblical L book called "The Wisdom of II " " " " " ' I it It :q s a Story in the Book of Numbers 21:5-19. Were complaining about food and to their grumbling the Lord sent These bit the people and The people turned to Moses prayed for the people and got the Lord. Moses was to cast a bronze t it up or lift it up on a pole where all who had been bitten but looked ze serpent were restored to healthy ;tory is the ancient magical idea creatures can be con- image of them and offering that image'. ancient story and the statement in The Gospel of John asks the members of the community for which it was written to look not to the Torah but rather to Jesus and recognize in him the Savior of all. For the author of John life was found not in the Torah but in Jesus. If we want to be kind to that author we will say that in his ani- mosity toward Jews and toward the synagogue he sometimes forgot that he himself turned to the Torah for guidance. He even writes in chapter one of his gospel: "We have found him of whom Moses in the Torah and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, son of Joseph." Then again in chapter five: "If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote of me." Thus John himself admits that the Torah is not to be rejected but accepted as life- giving because it speaks of him of whom Christians believe that his lifting up on the cross, his death, brought eternal life. John now develops this thought by stating the reason for Jesus being lifted up. It is this: "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that who- ever believes in him should not perish but have eter- nal life." The Gospel of John does not expand much on the idea of Jesus' death being a sacrifice. In chap- ter 19 he does compare the death of Jesus to that of the lamb slain for the Passover meal. By the first century that slaying had taken on the characteris- tics of a sacrifice to God. Here in 3:16 the idea era victim being handed over for sacrifice is implied: When John states the reason for Jesus' death as God's gift of love, that he "gives" his only Son, Cblis- tian readers would immediately think of another fa- ther who was asked to sacrifice his son. Abraham was the father. Isaac was the son. The words spoken by God to Abraham are reminiscent of what John writes. Here are those words: "Take your son, your only son.., whom you love. Go... and lift him up... as a whole offering" (translated from Greek) Abra- ham complied instantly in the story and was re- warded with a blessing that would extend to all na- tions: "by your descendants shall all the nations bless themselves, because you have obeyed my voice." As Abraham was obedient to God, so Isaac was obedient to Abraham. John sees Jesus as a new Isaac whom the Father is willing to "give" or sacri- rice. In that sacrifice all the nations will bless them- selves, or, as John expresses it: "God gave his only Son, that the world might be saved through him." Other readings: II Chronicles 36:14.17,19. 23; Ephesians 2:4.40. URANCE SERVICE bl Home! Fire & Life! Service Agent Will Ins. 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