The Witness

When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came, not only on account of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus also to death, because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.

Jesus’ power is apparent, not only because of the miraculous events he influenced, but also because he claims equality with God – a blasphemous notion to the Jewish leader’s point of view. Lazarus is quite symbolic of Jesus’ power, an actual living witness. If he is put to death, the witness is silenced, and he becomes less of a risk of attracting more Jewish followers. Because “many Jews were going away and believing in Jesus”, the Jewish leaders were threatened, and wanted to put Jesus and his witness to death.

If there is a call to ‘heart’ in this passage, it must be with poor old Lazarus – the power of the witness.

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8 responses

  1. You are right of course.The trouble lies when we compare thsi gospel to the other three. In them Jesus makes no such claims. And when Peter tries to pin the label of messaih (Christ) on him — Jesus silences him. From their perspective — the divinity of Jesus is not a claim he made but a truth revealed in the resurrection.So within the storyline of John’s gospel the Pharisees are perfectly justified in being upset given Jewish beliefs. But the historical question is — was John reading the truths he new from being a post-resurrection Christian back into the early ministry of Jesus?

  2. Yes, he was, David, and so do we- constantly. Marcus Borg offers the lesson that we have a Pre-Easter “Jesus in the flesh”, and a Post-Easter Christ. The problem is to ascertain which any scripture reflects.

  3. Well, I have to disagree with Laryy, mostly because it’s so fun to do so 🙂 but also … (stuff below from Felix Just’s website) … link* Jesus is refered to as Christ fairly often in the Gospels (7 Mk; 16 Mt; 12 Lk; 19 Jn), and very frequently in Paul’s letters (382 times). Paul even uses “Christ Jesus,” “Jesus Christ,” or “Christ” alone as if it were a proper name.* Jesus is called the “Holy One of God” by unclean spirits (Mark 1:24; Luke 4:34) and by Peter (John 6:69). Acts 2:27 and 13:35 quote Ps 16 to call Jesus the “Holy One”; and the title is also used of Jesus in Acts 3:14; 1John 2:20; Rev 3:7; 16:5.* In the Synoptic Gospels this phrase, I AM, is used only a few times by Jesus (Mark 14:62; Luke 22:70; 24:39), especially when Jesus walks on the water (Mark 6:50; Matt 14:27; cf. John 6:20), a story that functions as a “theophany” (appearance of a god).

  4. Points well taken, Crystal. I like Felix Just; he seems like a thorough scholar– of course with those predispositions that we all carry in our measure.I like to call Jesus Lord in the sense that Just explained it– the generic meaning of the word, but not as God in the sense we use the word.

  5. A question, you guys …do all christian denominations, including Quakers, believe in the idea of the trinity? Is it only a catholic thing? Thanks.

  6. Crystal: I wrote a blog on that subject. In a nutshell: All (or most) traditional denominations subscribe to the Trinity. But the deity of Christ has been contested by heretics (“anybody who doesn’t believe what I believe”- one definition) since the first century. In fact it was not clearly defined until 325 with the Council of Nicea and the Nicean Creed. I could go on, but…..

  7. Thanks, Larry :-).

  8. Crystal — all Christians share only one thing in common — a strong tendency to crucify their ministers.

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