My ordination interview was overall a relatively good experience. One question that made me sweat, though, was about this passage. A member of the interview committee said something like, “The longer I am a pastor myself, the more I struggle with these words ‘no one comes to the Father except through me.’ What do YOU do with them?” If you asked me that again today, I would probably dither just as much as I did then before ending (as I think I did during the interview) with “Well, I just can’t believe that.” Somehow, I want to do more with this week’s sermon than those six exasperated words.
The New Interpreter’s Bible (you’re right, you don’t see me pulling THAT out very often) opines “The Fourth Gospel is not concerned with the fate…of Muslims, Hindus or Buddhists, nor with the superiority or inferiority of Judaism and Christianity as they are configured in the modern world. These verses are the confessional celebration of a particular faith community, convinced of the truth and life it has received in the incarnation.” If it doesn’t exactly PREACH, it is, perhaps, at least a place to start.
If, like me, you’re more a memoir reader than a commentary-studier, you might check out It’s Really All About God: How Islam, Atheism and Judaism Made Me a Better Christian. I’m 88 pages in, I’ve dogeared about 70 of them as “worth going back to” including page 9: “If God created all of humanity but gave life-giving knowledge – usually referred to as ‘revelation’ – to only some of humanity, would God in any meaningful sense be thought of as the One God and not only as a god?”
I guess I’m going to be thinking about that one verse all weekend. What’s on your mind this week? Maybe you would rather talk about some of the other lovely language in the John passage instead – you could do a lot with the “way, the truth, and the life” I’d think. Or with how you see God and Christ at work in the world. Or, are you heading down the martyrdom road with Stephen? Or tackling something else entirely? Comments are open.