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Easter 6, Yr
Acts 17.22-31: Paul’s Areopague speech
Ps 66.7-18: Our God ... holds our souls in life
1 Peter3.13-22: baptismal homily baptism: not just cleansing but given god conscience (i.e., new orientation/life) (1136)
John 14.15-21: If you love me, keep my commandments; because I live you will live
Risen Christ, by the lakeside you renewed your
call to your disciples: help your church to obey your command and draw the
nations to the fire of your love, to the glory of God the Father.
(Let us ‘see’ the whole Jesus in our lives and in our life together.)
1950 when I was studying chemical engineering at the
is the picture. I hope that you can
see Jesus, but if you can’t, don’t worry.
There are other ways to see him.
think of that old story about an elephant in a room with three blind men.
Each man gropes his way to the elephant; one finds the tail, another
finds a leg, and the third finds the trunk.
Each one describes a different kind of beast on the basis of what he has
been able to grasp.
point is that we often, in effect, miss the whole picture because we only see
part of what is there. And we can
only build up a picture that makes sense to us on the basis of all of our own
background and experience. So my
question is, so to speak, how much of Jesus’ face do we see?
is now over forty years ago that my students and I began to discover that
Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians is built upon the ancient and pervasive
pattern of wisdom, power and well-being for humanity that you have heard me
mention more than once. Paul uses it
to set forth the humanity of Jesus as that humanity to which you and I are
called both individually and collectively. He
also relates the functions of the ministry of apostles to wisdom as love,
prophets to power in terms of building up in hope, and teachers to well-being in
terms of faith.
I found the same base being used overall in Matthew and in Mark, with the
pattern clearly being spoken of in Luke, John and elsewhere in the New
became clear to me that the central message of the New Testament is about the
good news that Jesus is the true human being and that through him we too can
become truly human like Jesus through obedient trust in God our Father and his
what has long puzzled me is why over the centuries this has not been the core of
what the churches have proclaimed as the Gospel.
And at long last I think I have found an explanation.
Monday to Friday of Holy Week this year The Times ran a supplement each
day on Christians worldwide. One day
it was on the Orthodox Churches of the East and it was written by a Russian
Orthodox theologian at
the difference, and why has neither really latched on to the central
proclamation that Jesus is human as God intends all of us to be human?
the East and the West saw that there was a problem in human life, which the East
identified as being death and the West identified as being sin, with both sides
being able to point to clear evidence in the New Testament for their views.
But they are both akin to someone whose eyes see only the periphery and
miss the central vision.
centuries Christians in the West have been conditioned by Roman Civil Law, with
its clear emphasis on penalties for wrongdoing.
So any wrong must be paid for. Thus it is not surprising that the West
emphasised the atoning work of the cross, often in terms of a transaction that
paid the price of sin.
we can see Jesus more holistically than this, when we see him as the one in whom
we find life. Thus in, for example,
1 Corinthians 15 Paul speaking of
the risen Christ, says ‘the Last Adam became a life-making Spirit’ (1 Cor
15), and in Romans 5 where he contrasts the first Adam and Christ, he stresses
that what was lost in Adam is far less than what has been gained in Christ.
during Easter we have been hearing
us ‘see’ the whole Jesus in our lives and in our life together.