What struck me last Sunday was a similarity between the two sets of readings, the raising f Lazarus and Jesus defense of the woman condemned Jn 8:1-11 to stoning by the Pharisee’s. In both readings a common thread is that Jesus killed death. His argument to let the one without sin cars the first stone, defeated that woman’s death sentence. The raising of Lazarus also defeats his death. The raising of Lazarus Jn 11:1-45 certainly prepares those early Christians for Christ’s resurrection. The defense of the woman helps define His message.
So much needed to be done to prepare the disciples for Easter, just as these readings prepare people today. If the defense of the woman prepared the disciples about Christ’s mission, the readings of yesterday and today prepare the disciples to understand Christ’s divinity. Here Jesus clearly defines himself as the Son of God, a divine Son doing the mission of His Father. If the Pharisees reject that message, the disciples had to be left confused. To the Pharisees when Jesus declares himself Son of God, they hear blasphemy. Their culture was one God, yet they were surrounded by cultures that had many Gods? Was that what they had heard, yet another god? Could they understand the faithfulness that Jesus had to the Father. Did they understand His faithfulness to the word of God was so strong, that He was The Word? Difficult for the Pharisees to understand, and they reject Him. Yet His faithfulness is to the God of Abraham, the God of the Covenant. He is delivering their Gods (the Pharisees) message to them. What of the Gentiles?
So Jesus said to them,
“When you lift up the Son of Man,
then you will realize that I AM,
and that I do nothing on my own,
but I say only what the Father taught me.
The one who sent me is with me.
Son of God was something they were familiar with. Jesus confronts and challenges their gods. Gods plural. Son of God was carved in stones and cast onto coins. Caesar the famous Emperor of the powerful empire was declared divine. He was a God, mighty and powerful and with his own message, his own testament. Augustus, then the son of god. Mighty emperors and rulers were gods. Divine. This is Jesus challenge, a David against Goliath. The Word of God confronts an empire, the gospel of good news challenges the law proclaimed by divine emperors.
Jesus said to those Jews who believed in him,
“If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples,
and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham
and have never been enslaved to anyone.
How can you say, ‘You will become free’?”
Then there are the Apostles and disciples, what did they expect of the messiah? Certainly they thought of David, a mighty king and warrior. They knew the Zealots that raged battle against occupiers. They knew the solders of Rome, their adversaries. They knew how men led people into a kingdom, but did they know Gods plan? Did they yet understand the Jesus of the Nativity? How would they understand the Jesus of Easter? They needed to be taught before they could begin to comprehend the mystery of Easter, and that is the lesson.