Monday, March 23, 2009

The Baked Good from the Sky

While the three synoptic gospels do tell us a great deal about who Jesus was, the primary focus in each of them is his 'splainin' to us what it means to live in the Kingdom of God.

If we want a more intimate discussion of who Jesus is, we go to John's Gospel. The witness of the Beloved Disciple comes to us from a different set of oral and written traditions about Jesus, which focus much more intently on Jesus himself. Who is he? Well, let's ask him.

John contains a series of what are called ego eimi, or "I am" statements, in which Jesus tells us who he is. So who are you, big guy?

"I am the bread of life. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. I am the light of the world. I am the gate for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I am the resurrection and the life. I am the way, the truth, and the life. I am the true vine."

To which we might say, huh? You're a baked good from the sky? A gate for livestock? A plant that does well on polygraph tests?

But we'd only say that if we were metaphorically challenged. Jesus speaks about who he is in ways that demand thought, that use symbols and language to force us to see him in a more complex way. He's what sustains us. He's what lights and guides our way. He's what gives us life and growth.

Why is he all those things? The answer is found in this Greek phrase: "En arche en ho Logos."

Where do we find that, and what does it mean?