Reviewing the Talks
We have now read closely all of Chapters 13 to 17
of John's Gospel, which relate to Jesus' words and
actions on Maunday Thursday before His meeting
with the armed party sent to arrest Him that night.
We have analyzed in great detail Jesus' words
following His washing of His disciples' feet and seen
that in it He clearly «explains» this action. He also
explains to the disciples the importance of His coming
actions. And so He prepares them for what is to come
in the following day or so. He also prepares them for His
coming back to them, foretelling them that they will witness
the fact that He will rise from the dead. He also prepares
them for their task of taking over from Him, of preaching His
message to others.
Jesus insists that to be a disciple, a human
must be ready to follow His commands, and His alone. She must have
faith in Him, which means first having faith that God is He Whom
Jesus said He Is: her (as well as everybody
else's) Loving Father;
second, that Jesus was sent by this Loving Father to be every
human's role model, the One she has to follow when she has to
choose how to live her life.
Jesus' way of living, the one to be copied by
anyone who wants to be His disciple,
is especially made
public, explicit, or, as the Gospel author says,
by the actions - or lack of same - that come just
before and just after these words.
She must first copy
His actions of devoted
and loving service examplified in the
washing of His disciples' feet - and those included Judas', whom Jesus knew
was going to betray Him.
She must also copy His reactions in the face of our
world order, a world of
violence, political and religious
condemnation for false crimes and
apparent sins, in the face of moral and
physical torture and degrading public
execution. In other words, she must become like Him,
Who was at peace with Himself, God Father
and also the world. She must become like Him, Who
was always loving and always forgiving towards
all and sundry. Jesus again and again insists that His
orders are simply to love everyone
whatever the circumstances
and that this is the way
that God is «glorified», made public for Who He is.
In none of His three «talks» is there a single mention of
ceremonial, religious or otherwise; nor of excluding anyone for
any reason whatsoever. For Jesus, loving God Father simply
means following His order to love all others. He does not add
anything else to this. So why do so many insist in doing
so? Do they not believe Him Who is God Incarnate? Is His
word not good enough? Do they know so much better than Him?
Who after all is God, they or Him?
This love for all and sundry is not something easy to live;
refusing anger, hate, murder, does not come easily when we are
used, abused and attacked, or when our loved ones are. Strongly
do we feel compelled to act in self-defence, to protect
ourselves, our property, and, first and foremost, our loved ones.
This is a reaction that comes to us naturally, instinctively.
And as strongly do we fell compelled to act to defend our way of life,
our justice, our community, our country. This is natural, this is the way
we are from birth. This is in our genes and in the way we are brought up,
whatever the country, whatever the culture (at least as far as I know).
There is no doubt that instinct plays an important
part in our lives; we could be said to be «wired» to react to
violence by violence, trying to save our family and ourselves.
More than that, our morality and our advanced
legal system based on this
morality both affirm our legitimate right to
self-defence. But Jesus states categorically
that all this is under the rules of this
world order and not in accord
with the Kingdom of God. These rules, Paul says,
are the ones followed by the
«old man», that «man» that in the Christians should have died
with Christ on the Cross. The «new man», he says,
is one who follows
Jesus' example rather than her instinct,
and so reacts to violence
with love and serenity. Such a person is
indeed a «new creation»,
one who does not follow her natural instincts,
one who has been recreated by God Father in the image
of His Son.
What makes following Jesus' example somewhat easier to endure
is the fact that those who do so
are promised a new Life in God, a
new Life whose very existence is proven by Jesus being
alive though dead. It follows that death is not the end for
Jesus' followers: they who followed His ways in life will
continue to follow Him
after death, living His
new Life. Jesus' resurrection not only
vindicates Him and so proves that God is He
Whom Jesus said He Is, and
that He, Jesus, is His Word; it also
proves that this new Life is
something that His disciples
will experience themselves as Jesus has so promised.
God by raising Jesus from the dead, vindicates all the promises Jesus did make,
including that He will come and take
His disciples with Him to His Father's house.
«I am the way, the truth,
and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by
is again the crux of the matter. It is
only by following the example
of Jesus' life than one comes to the Father, to this new
Life after death. All other lifestyles
are useless. This is again a
statement found over and over in the New Testament, but usually
understood to mean a lot of things rather than the example just
mentioned. Jesus never judged; He always forgave; He always
loved, He never boasted; He lived poorly; He shared what He
had with others; He helped out by His teaching and by His
healing. He was not really violent; He did not force on people
lots of rules and regulations to
follow. On the contrary, He told
them that His yoke was easy and His burden, light.
It is interesting to note that Jesus' disciples only
came to live according to Jesus after His resurrection.
His words were not sufficient; they needed His ultimate
example, and they also needed the proof that He indeed
was from God, and so spoke the Truth. But there is more:
they needed His August Breath, God Father's Helper,
the One Who helped them to become Jesus-like.
They needed this Breath emanating from God Father, this Breath of
Jesus, of Love, Life, and Faith in God Father.
They needed to be transformed in Jesus' image by this
Peaceful Breath Who told them that death is the way to
God Father's loving embrace for those who live according to
God Father's commandment of love.
Once «armed» with this Breath, the disciples
had the required confidence to face this word order's forces
head on, to tell its representatives that they were dead wrong,
and face the consequences. This Breath from God Father gave
them the audacity to state categorically to all who wanted
to hear that this world order's
value system is totally wrong. This Breath gave them the
courage to face privations, persecutions, torture and death
just like their Lord and Master. This Breath actually made
them like Him, and made them notice this very fact, as
well as made them want to become more and more so.
So we can see the importance of the parable of the vine. Jesus'
words and His Breath permit the disciples to be fruitful and so
be a living part of the vine that He is. Indeed, how can she be a branch of
the vine if she does not produce grapes, the fruits that vines
produce? She can be part of Christ only if she produces the same
fruits as Him, if she follows Him in His words and in His deeds.
Of course, Jesus had to live His final hours and ultimately His
death to provide His disciples with the
ultimate example that they must follow. His death also permitted Him to bring about
the ultimate proof He told the Truth: His resurrection. His death forced
His disciples to take over from Him, something they could not do without
starting to breathe His Breath of Life and by so doing, become
more and more like Him in His union with God Father.
Jesus makes very clear that this world order is in no
way compatible with God Father's Kingdom. This is of course
obvious as the first is based on violence while
God Father's Kingdom is based on love. It is only those who are like God Father who
can share His Life, His Identity: you cannot become
assimilated to God if you hate, as He does
not; you cannot become assimilated to God if you find faults with
others, as He does not. God is Love. This is why He is Father.
It should be clear from what has just been said that
expressions like «being born again»
and «having received the Spirit» have to do with this abandonment of our
instincts in favour of Jesus' Law of Love. These expressions
have nothing to do as such with
speaking in tongues or prophetizing or anything else. It is also clear
that those who do not at least try to live according to Jesus' way are
not «born again»; in fact, it is quite doubtful that they have understood
Jesus' message at all.
We hear so often people referring to the «Judeo-Christian ethic»,
described as the basis of our Western societies. I have a real problem with this
terminology, not that this will have any effect on it use, as it is well anchored
in our language and in our traditions. It is a fact that what is referred to
as the «Judeo-Christian ethic» can be shown to be at the base of the world order
as lived in most Western countries as it is at the base of their legal systems. The
problem is that this ethic is not based on Jesus' teachings as He categorically
stated that we are never to judge others, that we have to be of service to
everyone, good or bad, and forgive everyone, good or bad.
Those who talk about the «Judeo-Christian ethic» mention the fact that
Jesus did say that we were to follow the Ten Commandments.
This is indeed true. But He never said that we had a duty or even a
right to force these on others. In fact, Jesus never said that we had any rights.
Jesus only said that those who claim to be His disciples
had the obligation to follow His commandment of Love for
all and sundry. And again, He never said that His followers had either the right or
the duty to impose such a commandment on others.
That, of course, does not mean that we as Christians are not to proclaim Jesus'
message; of course we are. But the most important way to preach Jesus' message
is by living it oneself. How can we possibly ask others to follow a message that we
I would like to point out that I am here merely trying
to express in my words what Jesus has said, to paraphrase it and to see how it can
be applied. I am a
lay person, at the very bottom of the Church's hierarchy
and so I have no policy to defend, no historical decisions to uphold.
I am basically trying to understand what God says in the Gospels and in the other
New Testament texts. I am offering to whoever is interested the results of my
studies and insights. That is all.
That is enough. It is to the reader
to decide if this is true to Jesus' message, and if it can be
of some personal use.
To go back to the Apostles, they were commissionned to go and preach the Good News
that God is Love, that God is Father, that our sins are forgiven as a matter of
course, that God Father wants us with Him for all eternity.
They did not force their way of life down anyone's throat. They gave the message.
They answered questions, they told the truth about Jesus, about what was done to
Him and His resurrection.
They told people what is right and what is wrong, and that doing what is right
matters. This they did just as Jesus did, as it helps us for our future life in God.
But they did not judge - in the sense of punish - those they talked to,
as well as the authorities, as Jesus did not.
Some of them suggested ways of living
our life on this earth, but they usually managed to resist the temptation of imposing them
on those who wanted to become disciples.
And when some of them tried to impose on the disciples
Judeism with its Laws and Regulations, Paul
affirmed categorically that this was exactly opposite to Jesus' message,
and argued his point convincingly. He stated that Jesus brought freedom
from rules and regulations, not slavery to them. Indeed, Jesus made it
abundantly clear that all that mattered was to love God and our fellow
Of course, with the name Christian comes obligations:
we are to love each other and to be one in this love. If we refuse to live
that way, we are an object of scandal, as we are confessing by our actions that to
be a Christian is not to love everyone, either friend or foe; that to be a Christian
is not to be one with all the other humans: we are proclaiming a lie, a message that
is totally against Jesus' message. Surely, we do not want that.
It is our duty as Christians to be the Manifestation of God on earth, His Epiphany,
by living as Jesus commanded us, as God Father's children.
1 John 14:6b
Solemnity of the Epiphany of Our Lord, January 6th, 2008
© 2008 Jacques Beaulieu - property of Jacques Beaulieu
- All rights reserved:
Any text on this website can be freely copied
if then freely distributed
«freely ye have
received, freely give.» (Matthew 10:8b)
Comment via e-mail to the author