Friday, March 22, 2013

Now You Are Guilty

Following the Gospel of John, after Jesus identified Judas as a traitor, Judas immediately left the group. This prompted Jesus to begin what is known as the "Farewell Discourse" with the other eleven Disciples. We discussed roughly the first third of the discourse last time, where we saw some oddities, signs of crafted dialog, and contradictions, and discussed that seeing Jesus was equivalent to seeing God.

Now You Are Guilty
At the end of the previous study, we noted how Jesus ended with a call to action ("Come now, let us leave."), but His "Farewell Discourse" continued for three more chapters. That call to action has prompted some liberal Bible scholars to suggest that the real end of the discourse came at the end of John 14, and the next three chapters were insertions from a later author/editor. Let us take a look at the next couple of chapters in the discourse to discover why those scholars may be so anxious to trim them out of the Bible.

In John 15:1-8, Jesus metaphorically called Himself a vine. Immediately, we run into a tangled mess of contradictions. In John 15:1-2 we read:
"I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful." NIV
The language here is fairy clear. God will somehow remove non-productive followers of Jesus; removing indicated by the cutting off of the branches, followers of Jesus indicated by the "in Me." Of course, we reviewed in the previous study that people are only "in" Jesus if they obey His commands (John 14:15-20), which would seem to make it impossible for them to be unproductive. Not only that, but the people who are led to Jesus are supposed to be the "good" ones already, because as John 6:37, John 6:44-45, and John 6:65 indicate, it requires God's selection to follow Jesus. It seems rather odd that God would lead someone to Jesus, only to get rid of them soon after they had become a follower.

Just two verses later, John 15:4 contradicts what Jesus had just said:
"Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me." NIV
Here, Jesus commands His followers to remain in Him, but as John 15:1-2 explained, it was God who was controlling whether or not the branches remained "in" the vine!

The rest of the verses using the extended, twisted, vine metaphor divulged how lopped off branches would be gathered and burned, meanwhile those who remain in Jesus would have anything they wished.

In the next section of verses, John 15:9-17 mostly speaks of love and obedience; how if they obey Jesus, they will be loved by Him, and how they should love each other to the point of giving up their lives for one another. It also explains how Jesus considered the Disciples to be friends, not servants, because He has told them what He is planning. This is a pretty nice section overall, but most friends do not say to other friends that they are only friends "if you do what I command"! ;-) There is another apparent contradiction found in John 15:16, where Jesus said that He chose the Disciples, but John 10:29 suggests that it was God, the Father, who instead chose them for Jesus. Although, it is hard to call that a true contradiction if Jesus and God are one and the same! ;-)

Next, in John 15:18-21 Jesus warned that they would be persecuted by the world for following Jesus.

Speaking of the people in the world, in John 15:22-25 Jesus explained why they are now guilty. Check out John 15:22 and John 15:24, respectively below:
"If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin." NIV

"If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both Me and My Father." NIV
Pffeeww! We are all off the hook! Obviously, if Jesus' words are true here, we cannot be guilty because Jesus has not spoken to us, and we have not seen any miracles! Now, Christians may object that "Jesus has spoken to you through the Bible!" Wrong! Such Christians are missing the point here. Jesus did not say that they were guilty for ignoring the Scriptures, of which they had plenty that allegedly speak of Jesus. No, they were guilty because they had personally heard Jesus and were eyewitnesses to His miracles. Us? Not so much.

John 15:26-27 closes the chapter with a reminder that Jesus would give followers the Holy Spirit.

In John 16:1-4, Jesus warned them that they would be persecuted, even to death. John 16:2 is particularly interesting:
"They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God." NIV
Why would anyone think that? As we discussed in a study long ago, in Deuteronomy 13:1-18 God demanded zero tolerance for deviations from His brand of religion, even to the point of slaughtering entire towns. That includes killing miracle-working prophets (Deuteronomy 13:1-5) and even your dearest friend or family member (Deuteronomy 13:6-11). As Deuteronomy 13:5 makes it clear:
"That prophet or dreamer must be put to death, because he preached rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery; he has tried to turn you from the way the Lord your God commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil from among you." NIV
In John 16:5-11, Jesus explained again that He was going way for their good, that He would send them the Holy Spirit, and that the Spirit would convict people and Satan. Nothing too exciting there, except that Jesus began with yet another contradiction, saying that none of the Disciples asked Jesus where He was going, despite Simon Peter asking Jesus that exact question earlier in this self-same Farewell Discourse in John 13:36!

Anyway, Jesus then explained more about what the Holy Spirit would do (John 16:12-15). Then He went into how they would soon be grieving, but their grief would turn to joy, alluding to His resurrection (John 16:16-22). After He was resurrected, they could have anything for which they asked (John 16:23-24).

In John 16:25-31, Jesus and the Disciples discussed communication and belief. In John 16:25, Jesus started with:
"Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about My Father." NIV
Why would Jesus have purposely obfuscated His message? The logical reason is that He did not want people to understand. It blows a hole through the Christian apologist's mantra that God is too difficult to understand, because Jesus identified that He had the option to explain about God plain language, but He chose not to do so.

So when was that time coming, when we would get this plain message from Jesus? Apparently, not too long afterward, because just a few verses later we find in John 16:29-30:
Then Jesus' disciples said, "Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech. Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God." NIV
There was not anything in what Jesus had just said which had made Him more or less believable, or that made Him appear more or less clear, at least by comparison with the rest of the Gospel of John, and yet we are supposed to believe that that was the tipping point of when the Disciples finally believed? That is ridiculous, largely because they had already believed (John 1:41, John 1:45, John 1:49, John 6:68-69)!

The chapter closes out in John 16:32-35, with Jesus telling them that they would become scattered, but that they should have peace because He has overcome the world. I do not know about Him overcoming the world, but He sure has overcome some bad storytelling to continue to be believed, even in our times.


  1. "Why would Jesus have purposely obfuscated His message? The logical reason is that He did not want people to understand. It blows a hole through the Christian apologist's mantra that God is too difficult to understand, because Jesus identified that He had the option to explain about God plain language, but He chose not to do so."

    False, Matthew 13:13 - "This is why I speak to them in parables: "THOUGH seeing, they do not see; THOUGH hearing, they do not hear or understand."

    They SEE, like we see the things Unseen, like Love, a Mind, Conscience, The Holy Spirit yet do not See it, we Hear about YHWH's Love, Hope, Happiness, Pleasure yet we do not Hear it.

    Basically it's rejecting, The Parables are said to prove what? that YHWH(The Father and The Son and The Holy Spirit) obviously is Good and Exists, and that we refuse it. For example obviously The Parable of Fruits is obvious, whoeever does Good goes to Heaven, if not dies, in fact a Parable is made to simiplify it, for Hebrew people then, and they still refused to see.

  2. Dear Rafael Moreno,

    Unfortunately, you do not appear to be familiar with the context of the verse quoted in Matthew 13:13. (Actually, it was mis-quoted by Jesus!) It is a quote from a prophetic curse which God is applying to prevent people from understanding, so that they will not repent, so that He will not have to forgive them, because God really wanted to punish them. Reference Isaiah 6 (it come from verses 9-10), or see my post on why Jesus spoke in parables for more information.

    Once you have read that, please return and let me know if you feel that you can still make the same argument.