The Resurrection of the Lord




Then the other disciple also went in, 
the one who had arrived at the tomb first, 
and he saw and believed.


Throughout the gospel of John a mysterious, unnamed figure has observed the person and ministry of Jesus. 

He first appears as a disciple of the Baptist. When one is named as Andrew the brother of Simon Peter, nothing is said about him. Eventually he has an indistinct identity, "the one whom Jesus loved." 

Tradition has called him John, and named the Fourth Gospel after him. As the Witness who bears testimony to the truth, he is the putative author who declares in the penultimate chapter,  
"Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of [his] disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may [come to] believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name."
He is not entirely silent in the gospel but he asks only one question. After Jesus' astounding remark that "one of you will betray me," Saint Peter silently nodded to him, urging him to ask Jesus, "Who is it?" 

This silent enigma's purpose is to witness the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and to announce what he sees to the world. His anonymity serves two purposes. First, like Jesus, he has erased himself. His own preferences, opinions and beliefs are not terribly important. He is called to follow, and to tell what he sees and hears.  

Secondly, he is nameless so that I, the hearer of the gospel, can claim his identity as my own. I am the "one whom Jesus loved." I was there when John baptized him; I was there at the Last Supper; I received his mother into my home. 
On Easter "the one whom Jesus loved... arrived at the tomb first... but did not go in. He saw and believed." 
I saw the empty tomb and believed. 

The Gospel of John closes with a special blessing for "those who have not seen and have believed." 

What did John see when he looked into the tomb? Nothing. He saw the slab where the body had been laid; he saw the linens folded neatly. What did his heart witness? Everything. The Lord has been raised from the dead. The Rabbi is the Son of God. 

The witness who wrote the fourth gospel faithfully watched, heard and remembered the Gospel. His only word is a question which is answered to his satisfaction. He is not called to argue or defend the Lord, nor even to explain and apologize for him. 

Some people hearing his testimony will go away saying like today's news media, "There are many unanswered questions." Some people prefer their questions to God's answers and will remain perpetually dissatisfied. 
But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God.

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.