Genesis 25-26; John 9; Psalm 18:1-30
As we have followed the story of the Patriarchs we have also been following in the footsteps of Christ. Here, in this pivotal chapter of John’s gospel, the ministry of Jesus reveals many of the themes of the Life alluded to in and through the LORD’s relationship with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. Primarily that of Faith and Sight. the Pharisees are offended by what they see with their eyes and hear, and that offence drives them to unbelief. Paradoxically it is the blind who see and those who trust to sight are blind.
Some of that seeing we get a sense of if we understand the ‘allegorical’ way of reading scripture – that its true meaning, like the Life revealed in Christ, lies hidden. Note how often Jesus disappears in the gospel of John, only to reveal himself as he chooses. The early church fathers understood this way of reading scripture well. It is no clumsy allegory, where ‘This is That!’ – rather it is a way of recognising the life of God hidden in the deep intertextuality of the Scriptures, of how Christ is made plain, as to those on the Emmaus road, in the Old Testament. We have no need to ‘read between the lines’ of a single text to fill in our own meanings. If we will but read between the lines given us, of the Old and the New, there are many hidden treasures
For more on this approach to Scripture, especially early in our exploring and in the Calendar year, you may wish to consider this blog article by Father Stephen Freeman on The Baptism of Christ.
There are many other things worth pondering in our readings today – but I shall just briefly consider two. Firstly that the theme of God continuing to work in the highly ambiguous details of his children is magnificently portrayed in the story of Jacob and Esau. How is it that even through ‘he who deceives’, God’s story continues?
Secondly we note how there is a repetitive element in the tale. As we shall see, the metaphor of the bride at the well is played out once more in the life of Jacob as it was in Isaac, and here Isaac’s relationship with Abimelech parallels that of Abram’s double deceit regarding his wife. The Patriarchs continually disown their wives out of fear . . . perhaps it is not surprising that when The Groom comes to the Well to offer the Water of Life, he finds one who has no husband . . .
Ambiguity and allegory at play. Playfulness which is a source of Creative Life [cf Proverbs 8:30 in some translations]