4th Sunday Lent A
The Commentaries Summarised
As a Church we are in a web of wisdom that comes to us both from tradition and contemporary writers. This section offers a summary of some commentaries on the Gospel. Also below is a list of the books and articles that have been consulted in compiling this Sunday's "Pray As You Can" and which could be used for further reading.
This Sunday's Commentary
This Sunday’s reading is taken from the chapter of John’s Gospel presenting the meeting of Jesus with Nicodemus, one of the Jewish leaders, one who is prepared to come and discuss with Jesus. The first half of this meeting, which we don’t read this Sunday, is a dialogue between Jesus and Nicodemus. Tellingly, for the symbolism given in our reading, he comes by night. In the second half, which is our Gospel reading, the audience widens to include any listeners, or readers. Nicodemus is a partial believer, confident about what he knows, but that very confidence locks him into his ideas on faith and doesn’t allow him to believe in the extraordinary revelation that is being offered him. What he already believes is the yardstick by which he judges the teaching of Jesus.
Against this background, the crucifixion and the role it will play is introduced subtly into the Gospel of John. Jesus has been trying to tell Nicodemus that what he offers is so much greater than the faith he now holds. Using the story of Moses and the serpents in the desert, John presents Jesus as the new Moses offering a life categorically greater than the life humans ordinarily know. But that life will only come about through the ‘awful’ circumstance of the crucifixion. Believing that will transform for the believer the nature of faith, belief, judgement, the world, light and indeed, all reality. Here we are introduced to John’s notion of ‘realized eschatology’ – that the abundant eternal life, offered in Jesus begins ‘here and now’ even in situations we deem negative.