We see a number of people claiming to be Christians citing doctrine from the Old Testament as being the basis of their pronouncements. Can it really be? It seems that Luke 16:16 is one of the more ignored and/or forgotten passages of the New Testament. That verse does offer a definitive answer.
Comparing that verse with a table of contents in a Jewish Tanakh (the scripture Jesus would have known) is revealing!
In many traditions, and beginning today here, we end the Holy Communion with words from the beginning of the Gospel of John, and today we hear the end of that same gospel. And we see here a problem beginning even before the Ascension which we so often see today.
It appears word got out that one special disciple would not die until Jesus returned. When asked about that, Jesus replied “what is it to you?” Have we experienced being misquoted? Might it be a good idea to understand what is being said?
Let’s look at The Last Gospel and see what it says about the beginning of all beginnings. The Last Gospel is the very end of Holy Communion services in many Catholic, Anglican and other Orthodox traditions. It specifically is John 1:1-14.
Note that it shows that there is more to Jesus than we know, and that his role begins long, long before his birth in Bethlehem. What we know is one small part of one small corner.
Time for eyes open! The Pharisees sent people to ask John The Baptist who he was. And, they asked him specifically certain names and titles. In all cases, he denied being Elijah, “that prophet” or anyone else they had in mind. Instead, he spoke about someone else coming, one among them whom they didn’t know.
We know from elsewhere in the Bible who John was, but he was wise in not admitting that for a good reason. He had a job to do, and he was not letting his own identity get in the way.
And this might give us an idea of what to watch for today!
Let’s begin at the ending. Why? Some of us are known for taking a peek at the end of a novel to see how the story ends! Why not? It gives us some idea of what to look forward to, and perhaps a glimpse of the fate of certain characters. And since people are trying to persuade us to follow what’s in this book, we need to know who it ends.
The gate is open wider than some would have you believe.
Today’s lessons remind me of when I was a young boy and my mother was admonishing me to “look both ways”, which this pair of lesson seems to be doing. In the Epistle, we are warned about making judgements before we have all of the evidence. But then in the Gospel, we have another situation.
First, John the Baptist’s disciples ask him if he is the one everyone was waiting for, and Jesus tells them to tell John of what they’ve seen. And then, he poses another question to the multitude which had been following him: What did they go to see when they went to see John?
In the first instance, we’re given a situation in which not all of the evidence is in. But in the second, it is time to realize what’s going on because the evidence is there!