Thursday of the Second Week of Easter
(Acts 5:27-33; John 3:31-36)
In yesterday’s gospel Jesus spoke of darkness as evil. He said, “’…people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil.’” Darkness and its prime referent, night, do not only symbolize evil. They also represent ignorance. Earlier John’s gospel said that Nicodemus came to Jesus at night. He was coming out of ignorance into the light of Christ. He called Jesus, “Rabbi,” which means “Teacher.” Today’s gospel indicates how authoritative a teacher Jesus is.
Teachers study the ideas of wise people. They learn from the writings of Aristotle or Plato. They cannot know everything of these masters because they didn’t live with them. They could not ask questions of clarification and deeper probing. When Jesus speaks of God, however, he knows all that there is to know. It is unclear whether Jesus is the speaker of today’s passage. Nevertheless, it is clear that Jesus is said to have come from heaven. He shares with people on earth “what he has seen and heard.” It is like having Shakespeare as your English teacher.
The content of Jesus’ teaching – all that he has learned from God – is revealed in the rest of the gospel. Having been formed in the faith, we have some idea of what it says. We are to deny ourselves and to trust in God’s mercy. This is not just a difficult task; it is also harrowing. Jesus lived what he taught, and look where it got him.