Let us not mock God with metaphor

“Seven Stanzas at Easter” by John Updike (from Telephone Poles and Other Poems): Make no mistake: if He rose at all it was as His body; if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules reknit, the amino acids rekindle, the Church will fall. It was not as the flowers, each soft Spring recurrent; itContinue reading “Let us not mock God with metaphor”

Thou hast broken open the all-devouring belly of Hell and snatched me out

Here are a few of the many hymns from last night with the start of Lazarus Saturday. Toward the end, several of them break into the voice of Lazarus himself or of Hell itself. Calling Lazarus from the tomb, immediately Thou hast raised him; but Hell below lamented bitterly, and groaning, trembled at Thy power,Continue reading “Thou hast broken open the all-devouring belly of Hell and snatched me out”

Jesus’ own mind was the defining locus of humanity’s capacity to hear and obey the historical summons of God

In other words, the Old Testament and the redemptive work of Christ are not related simply by way of objective semantic reference, but also through the living subjective experience of the Redeemer—Jesus’ own understanding of Holy Scripture. The conjunction of the Sacred Text and the redemptive event was originally discerned in the active, self-reflective understandingContinue reading “Jesus’ own mind was the defining locus of humanity’s capacity to hear and obey the historical summons of God”

recognizable and transfigured

Christianity is a paradoxical religion because the Jew of Nazareth is a paradoxical character. No figure in history or fiction contains as many multitudes as the New Testament’s Jesus. He’s a celibate ascetic who enjoys dining with publicans and changing water into wine at weddings. He’s an apocalyptic prophet one moment, a wise ethicist theContinue reading “recognizable and transfigured”

all of Christian doctrine is rooted

And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, he expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:25–27) The meaning of these Scriptures has been a preoccupation of Luke’s gospel from the start. It was the burden of Jesus’ first sermon at the synagogue in Nazareth. It was the subject ofContinue reading “all of Christian doctrine is rooted”

his long-established pessimism was about to be shaken

“Rabbi,” they answered, “lately the Jews sought to stone you, and are you going there again?” It was Thomas who accepted the tragedy of the thing: “Let us also go, that we may die with him” (John 11:8, 16). Thomas may also have been something of a loner, which would explain why, when the risenContinue reading “his long-established pessimism was about to be shaken”

the personally transforming power of this prayer

The scene of Jesus praying in the garden, on the night before his death, is among the most disturbing presentations among the gospel narratives. Specifically, Jesus’ immense sadness and personal distress seem much out of character with what the gospel stories—up to this point—would lead the reader to expect. What has become of the serenityContinue reading “the personally transforming power of this prayer”

completely preoccupied with the Father

It is obvious that Jesus, during the supper, was completely preoccupied with the Father. When, at an early age, he had dedicated his life to “the things of my Father,” that dedication became the foundation of everything he did. This zeal for God was now about to consume him, and the flame of it becameContinue reading “completely preoccupied with the Father”

homicidal craziness abounding in Jerusalem

Jesus’ enemies so thoroughly “lost it” at this time that they “plotted to put Lazarus to death also” (John 12:10). With such homicidal craziness abounding in Jerusalem, Jesus determined to stay away until the week before Passover. He lodged with friends in the suburbs (John 11:54–57). When he finally did enter Jerusalem, Jesus was carefulContinue reading “homicidal craziness abounding in Jerusalem”

surely his special channel of information

Joanna, whom Luke is the only Evangelist to mention by name, was surely his special channel of information that only he, among the Evangelists, seems to have had [about Jesus’ trial before Herod Antipas]. Married to a well-placed political figure in the Galilean court, Joanna was apparently a lady of some means, who used herContinue reading “surely his special channel of information”