Did Jesus really speak in the mystical manner portrayed in John 14?

I must say initially that I am not challenging Christian faith here.  Christians believe that God used men to express divine truths in their own way so the narratives from Apostle John can be seen as just another way of conveying important truths.

But most of John 14 is rather a gabble.  Christ constantly speaks of being IN the Father and the Father also being IN him.  He is quite repetitious about it.  He also however speaks of the disciples being in him and he being in them so an allusion to the Trinity doctrine cannot be read into it.  If there were any doubt about that, verse 28 puts it as rest.

As far as we can tell Jesus was a popular preacher so it seems unlikely to me that he spoke in a gabble that would do a French philosopher proud.  So it seems unlikely that John was trying to present the actual words of Jesus.  My view is that he was trying to present very emphatically something that Jesus taught.  And what that is is fairly clear.  He was trying to emphasize a unity of belief and purpose between himself and the Father.  He felt that he was so close to the Father that to see him was to see the Father.

So the passage is sensible enough if you allow for John's Gnostic way of writing. And from the opening verses of John's Gospel we have it made clear that John likes to present truths in that way.

Jesus also emphasises in the passage the importance of keeping his commandments -- so he was emphasizing the importance of his  commandments by saying that they were also the commandments of the Father.

The major puzzle in chapter 14, it seems to me, is what we are to make of the Paraclete (helper) that Jesus will send when he is gone. Again I think we have to look for a figurative meaning rather than accept some sort of "Holy Ghost" story.  And I think that the Paraclete must be the whole body of his teaching which will live on in the disciples.  That Christian teachings can indeed be very sustaining, we now know.  The way the Bible Students (Ernste Bibel Forscher) went to their deaths for refusing to bow the knee to Hitler is just one example of that strength.

1 comment:

  1. I think John 14 is a wonderful chapter.

    I think Jesus spoke to people according to their scope and degree of external and internal perception and level of understanding, and people absorbed his teachings accordingly too.

    As an analogy, some people, like me, are a bit deaf and hear a low range, and hear some people clearly and others barely at all. And when speaking to others who are a bit deaf we often have to raise or lower our pitch to match the listener's range of hearing. We tune our voice with the other's hearing. Communicating concepts is like that. We tune the concept with the other's intelligence or mental perception.

    Jesus often took a wide scope or broadband approach when communicating, such as his use of parables containing many layers of the same concept to suit people of all ranges of understanding. And sometimes he spoke in a more particular way to suit particular individuals. So the disciples heard, understood and wrote differently to each other, but compatibly.

    John clearly had an insightful mind, not just capable of broad scope and fine distinction in an earthly or physical sense, but also highly conceptual, able to perceive and grasp concepts outside and above the realm of familiar 3d thought.

    Jesus' parables and John's way of writing are broad and perceptive, and powerfully symbolic, making them clear in one sense, while in another sense mysterious and charged with suggestion of further truth. That is because they are analogical and symbolic, and that is what symbols do.

    If it be the case that we live in a fractal existence, where all things replicate and are replications in form, quality and function of things above, below, and even within and without of themselves, to the extent that dimensions and the nature of the matter in dimensions enables, and if one can perceive such a reality, then symbolism is the natural and easiest way and only way to communicate the greater and finer concepts vertically down to coarser levels of understanding.

    Symbols are like funnels that both funnel greater concepts down to the mind and expand the mind to accommodate those greater concepts.

    Someone perceptive of a great fractal reality naturally communicates it in symbolic/analogical ways. There is no other way or better way, for the reality itself IS intrinsically symbolic.

    I think JR's interpretation of John 14 is correct. But I think John 14 carries both lesser and greater truth too.


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