Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise. The Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing; and he will show him greater works than these, so that you will be astonished. Indeed, just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whomsoever he wishes. The Father judges no one but has given all judgement to the Son, so that all may honour the Son just as they honour the Father. Anyone who does not honour the Son does not honour the Father who sent him. Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgement, but has passed from death to life. ‘Very truly, I tell you, the hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself; and he has given him authority to execute judgement, because he is the Son of Man. Do not be astonished at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and will come out—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.
I am writing this as one who is freshly enthused to think about John’s Gospel after a recent study day with Professor David Ford. He has just published a new commentary in which he emphasises that although the Fourth Gospel has the simplest (Greek) language it often contains the deepest ideas and benefits from constant reading and rereading.
Prof Ford’s book is no ordinary commentary with lots of footnotes and highly technical explanations, though there is a lifetime’s scholarship lying underneath the surface. Instead it is explicitly focussed on living and praying the way of Jesus through the text of John’s gospel. And in today’s passage living and praying seem to be to be directly connected: “anyone who hears my word and believes… has eternal life” or more simply in the next vese “those who hear will live.”
Often in Christian living we are inclined to draw a distinction between the active (or even activist) life and the prayerful way of the contemplative. But perhaps a full Christian life is both. We may not all be monastics but we can all have a contemplative thread through our daily living.
And prayerfully reading John’s gospel is not a bad place to start.
Gracious God help us in our daily lives both to spend time in quiet with you and also to act with you and for you in your world. Amen
The Rev’d Alistair Smeaton, Minister, Cumbria Missional Partnership