by miriam berg
Chapter XIV-XVII

(John 14-17)
Chapters fourteen through seventeen consist of Jesus' purported final discourse at the Last Supper. Now it is unlikely verging on impossible that anyone could have remembered so many words so closely knit so many years afterward, and so we may be pardoned for suspecting that this discourse is a composition, perhaps put together out of many remembered sayings, but we cannot exclude the possibility that it also contains ideas about Jesus and God which had arisen long after Jesus. It is generally agreed that Gospel of John could not have been written before the year 100 C.E., and that it was heavily influenced by Greek ideas, especially the Gnostic and Docetic cults, which are Greek in origin and had no branches in Palestine nor were they in full fledge early in the first century, so Jesus could not have had any contact with them. The Gnostics may be credited with the concept of God as the Word or Logos, but that concept cannot be found in the Synoptics. The Docetics believed that Jesus was not human at all, but God in human appearance like the visitors to Baucis and Philemon in Greek myth; thus Jesus could not actually suffer, which is the picture John portrays, a man with no human emotion, who feels no pain even on the cross, but is reported as saying boredly, I thirst, and, It is finished. Such a contrast to the Synoptic Jesus, who feels anger, compassion, humor, and sorrow, weeping over Jerusalem and its children, as well as over his own impending death as the Synoptics report in the Garden of Gethsemane!

But let us look more closely at these four chapters
in this long discourse, the longest in the Gospels. Certainly these chapters are a masterpiece of composition -- I would not want to deny that -- and as a contemplative panegyric of reassurance given the Johannine theological outlook there can be nothing better and it may more than serve the purpose of helping folk to die easily and live confidently, if blindly. The astonishing thing is that there is hardly a sentence in them which matches anything in the Synoptics! They become repetitive, verse piled upon verse, the same phrases repeated over and over: Jesus proclaiming his Godhood, exhorting belief in himself, pronouncing his favor on believers and disfavor on unbelievers, promising to grant anything his believers ask, predicting persecution but also promising a Comforter to come, none of which is uttered by Jesus in the Synoptics, save the forecast of persecution and the proverb, Ask and ye shall receive, which is attributed to God there rather than himself. (The verse regarding his presence where two or three are gathered together, Matt. 18:19, is probably an interpolation, since it is not found in the same event reported in either Mark or Luke.) But where, oh, where are the ethical and moral teachings so grandly and persuasively stated in the Sermon on the Mount? The only exhortations Jesus makes here in John are to believe on him, which we cannot find in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and to love one another primarily, which we have seen is an exclusivist form of insider-love totally different from the universal love taught in the Sermon on the Mount and the parable of the Good Samaritan. Parable after parable is told by Jesus in the Synoptics without ever using the words "I" or "me", constantly emphasizing conduct, loving mercy and not sacrifice, open acceptance of everyone
-- the lost sheep, the lost coin, the lost son, the laborers who come late, the weeds in the wheat field, the barren fig tree which was given another chance (Luke 13:6-9); and others which have a political point, but still not referring to himself. It is only his followers who have assumed that the King was Jesus, and the nobleman, and the separator of the sheep and the goats. Not one parable in the Synoptics does Jesus tell with himself as the star.

The pinnacle of the temple to which John's deification of Jesus brings him, however, in this Satanic attempt to give Jesus the rulership of the world, which Jesus has refused to accept during the temptations in the wilderness as told in Matthew and Luke, is the ascription of the following words to Jesus:
I pray not for the world, but for those whom thou hast given me. (John 17:9)
Now this is appalling, even for those who call themselves Christians. Can Jesus have truly said, I care only for those who believe on me, and all others are outside my love? Can the man who told the parable of the Perfect Parent (miscalled the parable of the Prodigal Son), who rejoices when his son returns even after squandering all his portion, have not prayed for all people? Can he who told the story of the Samaritan binding up the wounds of and spending his own money on one of those who despised him (as John confirms, the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans), and of the householder who gave to each and every worker the same recompense, including those who came at the eleventh hour (Matt. 20:1-16), and of the one who did not fret because the weeds were growing among the wheat, but said that both could grow together (Matt. 13:24-30), have withheld his prayers from those who did not "believe" that he was the Son of God? Is this Jesus less than the writer of the epistle to Timothy, who said:
I exhort thee, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all people; (I Tim. 2:1)
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God, who will have all people tc be saved. (I Tim. 2:3-4)
Are not the very hairs of your head all numbered? asks Jesus in the Synoptics. Does a single sparrow fall to the ground without the caring concern of the Creator? Why should we do less, or believe that Jesus did less, than this boundless universal love of God for all his creation? Even Yahweh, the judgmental God of the Old Testament, says,
Have I any pleasure that the wicked should die? let him turn from his wickedness, and live. (Ez. 18:23)
This Johannine passage, chapter 17, verse 9, confirms the unreliability of John's gospel, his misconception of Jesus' message, the fact that John was writing basically to reassure early Christians of their specialness and to encourage others to join because of that specialness, which we believe Jesus would have had no part of, the Jesus who said to the Pharisees:
For I say unto you, the publicans and sinners go into the kingdom of heaven before you." (Matt. 21:31)

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