Sunday, July 11, 2010

309: For God so Loved the World

John 3-4
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." - John 3:16 [KJV]

The chapter starts out with Jesus teaching a Pharisee (Nicodemus). Jesus teaches him that no one can enter the kingdom of heaven unless they've been "born again". We never end up getting a very good description of what Jesus is talking about. Jesus repeats that no one can enter the kingdom of heaven unless they've been born of water and of spirit.

When the Pharisee seems confused, Jesus tells him that he shouldn't be surprised to hear Jesus saying this. He also asks him how he doesn't understand the things he's talking about. I didn't realize that being "born again" was such an obvious conclusion to be drawn from someone who has only read the Old Testament. More importantly, why has Jesus never mentioned this before? If this is a requirement to get into heaven you'd think Jesus would have mentioned it somewhere in the other gospels.

Jesus then immediately contradicts the born again requirement with a famous quote (one of the five or so I know), "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." Do you have to be born again, or do you just have to believe in Jesus to receive eternal life?

John the Baptist then reiterates that he is not Jesus. He also reiterates that you have to believe in Jesus to have eternal life. He apparently doesn't know that you also have to be born again. This also seems to exclude the "unforgivable" blasphemy against the holy spirit. If you blaspheme against the holy spirit, then start believing in Jesus, do you go to heaven? You'd think they'd be a little more specific when discussing eternal destiny.

In the next chapter Jesus has an interesting (read confusing) conversation with a Samaritan woman. Jesus is sitting beside a well in a town in Samaria. Jesus sees a Samaritan woman drawing water and asks her for a drink. She asks him why a Jew would ask a Samaritan such a question. Jesus responds by saying if she had known the "gift of God" she was talking to, she would have asked Jesus for "living water".

Jesus explains that if you drink living water you will never be thirsty again. In fact, this water will somehow form a spring inside the drinker and give them eternal life. This is terribly strange so, like any good Christian would, we'll call it a metaphor.

The woman asks for some of this water. Jesus instead tells her to go get her husband (why?). The woman promptly responds by saying she doesn't have a husband. Well so much for omniscient. How is Jesus going to get out of this one? I'll quote Jesus:
You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.
Of course, Jesus knew all along she didn't actually have a husband. I don't know what this "five husbands" business is that Jesus is talking about. The woman, instead of calling Jesus out on this bullshit, exclaims that Jesus is a prophet. What?

Most of the rest of the chapter is about this woman spreading the news of Jesus being the Messiah. What did he do?! He said something incorrect, then (when corrected), said something random and crazy. Where did she get the idea that he is the Messiah? She never even ended up getting the mysterious "living water".

The chapter ends with one more anticlimactic "miracle". An official comes to Jesus and asks him to heal his son. Jesus bemoans the fact that people need miraculous signs to believe. Huh? It sounds like this man does believe. Why else would he come to Jesus to heal his son?

The official begs Jesus to come to his house and heal his son. Instead of going with the man, Jesus tells him to leave and that his son will be fine. The official, upon going home, finds that his son's condition improved at the same time Jesus told him to leave. Jesus's miracles seem incredibly un-miraculous in the gospel of John. I know I complained about Mark, when Jesus had to spit in people's faces for his magic to work. But at least then you could tell he was doing something. Now he vaguely says "bugger off" to perform his miracles?

John lists this as Jesus's second miraculous sign. I'm assuming the other sign was Jesus telling his mom to go away (thus changing water into wine)

Two Russian art curators face up to three years in jail for "defaming the Russian soul".

How did they accomplish this soul defaming? By blaspheming against Jesus, of course. One image was of Jesus with Mickey Mouse ears. The other was Jesus being crucified, with his head replaced by an order of Lenin medal.

The title of the exhibit, "forbidden art", turned out to be all too true. When the Orthodox Church of Russia caught wind of the exhibit they demanded the curators be prosecuted under a law meant to prohibit "religious hatred". Reportedly, even Russia's culture minister doesn't think they've broken the law.

I'm constantly grateful that I live in a country where I can say what I want about Jesus (and this blog can exist). It puts me in the mood to exercise my rights:

(via AP)


  1. John 3

    John 3:1. Nicodemus means "ruler of men." How appropriate and convenient a name for a member of the ruling council!

    John 3:2. John appears to be using Luke 18:18 as his starting point: 'A certain ruler asked him, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" ' Note that this is the implicit question that Jesus answers, even though John has omitted it.

    John 3:3,7. Jesus is making a Greek pun here: "born again" and "born from above" are the same in that language (but not in Aramaic or Hebrew). The birth from above corresponds to a spiritual birth. Of course, the real Jesus would not have been speaking in Greek with a Palestinian Pharisee.

    John 3:4. Nicodemus completely fails to get the metaphor, taking Jesus too literally. This happens a lot to people to whom Jesus is speaking in this Gospel (e.g., cf. below). It's as if everyone is as thick as the disciples.

    John 3:11. Is Jesus using the royal "we" here? Who else's testimony is he talking about?

  2. John 4

    John 4:1. More competition between Jesus ad John.

    John 4:2: "in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples." Huh? Didn't we just read in verses 3:22 and 3:26 that Jesus was baptizing?

    Moreover, we once again have a reaction to the behavior of Jesus' disciples, rather than of him, reflecting the situation at the time of the writer rather than at the time of Jesus.

    John 3:2. Why did this cause Jesus to go back to Galilee? And note that we've already had one sojourn by Jesus through Judea and back to Galilee since the start of his ministry. There will be others in this Gospel. The Synoptics had none - Jesus first trip to Jerusalem in them (after his baptism) is his last.

    John 4:6. John is obsessed with telling us what time everything occurred. Cf. , e.g.,1:39, 3:2, 4:52.

  3. Started reading about a month ago and have looked through most of the archive. Enjoy reading your material.
    I have grown up in the church but am amazed that it can be thought that the way Jesus speaks in, say, Matthew and in the gospel of John point to the same person. John, at the least, forgets to close his quotations at the proper point. The famous 3:16 verse seems to me to be a commentary rather than a quotation.

  4. The "living water" part must be what inspired this crazy pseudoscientist to create this masterpiece of bullshit:

    Warning: this video will make your brain hurt

  5. "I don't know what this "five husbands" business is that Jesus is talking about."

    Oh come on! Really? I mean, really??

    Jews and Samaritans pretty much didn't talk to each other. Now this Jew asks her for a drink and she is surprised. Jesus continues the conversation with some intriguing/leading/profiling comments and questions. Jesus plays this woman like a song! I'm sure you've heard of psychics today even going through a series of questions to hook someone --

    Jesus has pulled off something amazing here -- he's actually won over this woman and in essence called her a slut all in the same passage!

    In terms of story, the number '5' may have been just big enough so that she isn't a massive skeeze-bag but notably too loose for the standards of the time. It could very well have been an edited thing later on (since John was written potentially 60 years after Jesus' death and not necessarily written by an eye-witness).

    In terms of truth -- well that's totally up in the air. If Jesus was true, and if the story was true, then it might have been a lucky guess by Jesus or it might have been some sign of his psychic abilities while saying little about his omnipotence. He seems to have a desire to win people over, or just mess with people's heads.

    Is this really surprising behaviour from a charismatic, outgoing and quick leader???

  6. It's actually sort of genius, because as far as I know, people have paid that much money for these things. It's about a hundred bucks worth of parts you can get at Radio Shack and a carbon filter. That kind of profit margin is almost worth being a liar and a douchebag for selling this homeopathic crap.

  7. 60 years is probably the minimum amount of time after Jesus' death that John could've been written. If he knew Luke, which seems likely, then it would be even a couple of decades later.

  8. This was pretty hilarious until I looked up the guy's website and found out that he is selling this bullshit for $18,000 (yes, eighteen thousand). Then it was just kind of sad.

  9. You're right - many of the monologues in John could have been intended as commentary. Even some of Mark could be read that way.


    let them know if the MDC continues more people will die...


    Let me show you how ATHEISTS were partially responsible for 911


    You don’t even have SCIENCE on your side…

    You’re a perfect example of when PHILOSOPHY becomes an ENEMY OF LIFE...

    not quite samantha with her *supernatural spit*, eh?

    this isn't one of your little WORD GAMES...

    blasphemy is a DEATH SENTENCE

    you people actually BELIEVE the BS you preach!

    GOD 1 - atheists 0



    Repent and turn to God or be destroyed...


    my interpretation of the STATUE FIRE... it symbolizes the SPIRITUAL DEATH of atheism...,0,4295974.story


    we do like your music Lady Gaga, but...

    The B**BQUAKE - 911

    Let me show you the FATE OF TRAITORS...

    they are incapable of telling the difference between SCIENTIFIC *FACT* AND

    they also preach a *VALUE FREE SCIENCE* called *POSITIVISM* that ignores the
    inequalities of wealth and power in capitalist civilization...

    for a sample taste of PZ Myers' GARBAGE...



    what happens when you LOSE Pascal's Wager...

    the blood and bodies of the atheist movement...

    you mofos killed MICKEY MOUSE!!!!

    this has more TRUTH then what Dawkins, Randi, Harris, Myers, and Shermer
    combined have said in their entire lives...!v=5R2wE8Sduhs&playnext_from=TL&videos=hht1U_19anc&feature=rec-LGOUT-exp_fresh%2Bdiv-1r-3-HM

    they tried to BULLDOZE the entire METAPHYSICAL DIMENSION...
    they LOST THE WAR......

    you have FORFEIT YOUR SOUL, shermer... you have become an object in the material world, as you WISHED...

    we're gonna smash that TV...

    They had become ENEMIES OF THE PEOPLE AND OF GOD...

    you pushed too much and *CROSSED THE LINE*

    degenerates (PZ) or children (HEMANT) - ATHEISTS!

    do you have anything to say, you STUPID LITTLE F*CKER?

    how about I tell you, Mr. Shermer, EVERYTHING YOU THINK ABOUT THE WORLD is

    THE BOOBQUAKE - 911!



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