Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Daily Bible Reading: Ezekiel 28 and John 21

Ezekiel 28 – The prophecy against the kingdom of Tyre – great trading city and center of the region. Tyre is condemned for being proud enough to consider itself “a god.”  But foreigners will be brought against them

Tyre was created perfect – full of natural riches and guarded by god’s ensigns. But Tyre’s “busy trading has filled you with violence and sin” (28:16). The dishonesty of their trade, however, and the pride they showed has brought them to ashes. They have become “an object of terror – gone forever” (28:19).
Sidon too (less important but involved in the political intrigue Ezekiel is condemning here) is addressed God will send the plague to demonstrate His anger. Men will “learn that I am the Lord Yahweh” by God’s bringing down the nations hostile to Judah around it. Similarly, God will replant his people “on the soil . . .I gave to my servant Jacob [and] they shall live there in confidence, build houses, plant vineyards” (28:26).

John 21 - Jesus shows himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias. Peter, Thomas, Nathanael of Cana, the two sons of Zebedee and two other disciples are together and Simon Peter says he is going fishing. They all go with him but catch nothing. At daybreak Jesus appears on the beach, but again his disciples, like Mary Magdelen, do not “know him” (21:4). He says to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” He tells them to cast their nets to the right of the boat. They do and bring in a huge haul. “That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter. ‘It is the Lord!’” (21:7) At this, Peter, naked, puts on some clothes and jumps off the boat. The others bring the boat in with all the fish.

Ashore, they find Jesus by a charcoal fire cooking fish. He invites them to bring some of the fish they’ve caught (153 fish, it says) and eat breakfast with him. “Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ because they knew it was the Lord. That this should even be an issue is pretty mysterious. Jesus comes, takes the bread and gives it to them, and does the same with the fish” (21:13).

When they finish, Jesus says to Simon, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my lambs” (21:15). He says this two times more. Peter feels hurt because he has to say it three times. Then it says Jesus predicts that when Peter is old he will stretch out his hands and someone will fasten a belt around him and take him where he does not wish to go (21:18). He tells Peter to “follow me.” Peter turns and sees “the disciple whom Jesus loved following them. Peter asks the Lord, “’what about him?’ (21:21)

Jesus says to him, ‘If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!’ So the rumor spread in the community that this disciple would not die” (21:21-23). The gospel ends with a declaration that this “is the disciple who is testifying to these things and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true” (21:24). There are many other things that Jesus did.

What I find most interesting in this chapter is, again, there is difficulty in recognizing Jesus among the disciples – those who knew him best. This has to be a kind of doubt about the resurrection in the same sense that Hamlet has underlying doubts about the vision of his father he is supposed to believe in. But it is in his interaction with them that his presence is validated. How much harder for us, yet it seems miraculously that the reality of his presence in our lives continues to be confirmed every day.

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