Lectionary Year B
April 2, 2000
John 3:13-21

Step II: Disposition


What we get here is a multi-faceted explanation, and/or justification of what God has been doing in/through/with the only begotten Son. This pericope also seems to explain and/or justify what believers and non-believers get from their relationship to this Son or lack thereof. Then, there is, furthermore, some sort of explanation and/or justification of believers’ relating to the light and/or doing the truth or not.


As familiar as these statements are, I begin to wonder just who is making these claims with the self assurance I seem to read in them. Is the self-assurance there for other readers, too, especially for those in the first and second century, for example? And, were the hearers and readers of these assertions hung up on some kind of judgement, or where did that subject originate so forcibly that it has to be addressed here? And, what did that earlier culture believe, regarding the light?
In The Central Message of the New Testament, Joachim Jeremias writes, that these verses, 19-21 “interpret” John 1:9. Do they? These questions arise from an interest in retaining this passage as one of the most significant in my bank of personal faith data and I certainly want this week’s study of it to continue supporting my faith journey. If it doesn’t, then what? Where else do I go? How can any other passages, like next week’s for instance, ever be as meaningful? We’ll see.

The pericope begins recalling an Old Testament context for what God is doing, regarding Moses’ raising a serpent in the wilderness. Then, the passage immediately proceeds to believing in the Son of Man who is similarly to be raised up. Next, God’s generous love is described as the generation of the gift of life eternal via that Son. Then, come the disclaimers, regarding judgement and those already being judged because of not believing. Judgement seems related to light and those who avoid it because they try to hide their misdeeds. Those misdeeds get some ink in this pericope, too. The passage seems to conclude with a reference to work in God, or is it God’s work?

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