Who Is Jesus? (an Excerpt from The Drama of Living by David F. Ford)

The following is an excerpt from chapter one of The Drama of Living: Becoming Wise in the Spirit by David F. Ford.

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Who is Jesus? John’s Gospel has perhaps been the single most influential book in the history of Christian theology, especially in Christology, the doctrine of the person of Jesus Christ. John’s Prologue (1:1–18) alone has been one of the most discussed texts century after century.

For now, the key point is that, for all the importance of the Prologue, the main way John tells us who Jesus is, is through the rest of the Gospel, and this is in the form of one dramatic encounter with Jesus after another.

It is carefully written to answer the question, who is Jesus? in multiple ways and at many levels, so the reader is constantly led to reread; to make new connections with the rest of the Gospel, the Synoptics, and the Tanakh/Old Testament; and to explore what the meaning might be of capacious, symbolic statements such as “I am the bread of life” (6:35), “I am the light of the world” (8:12), “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (14:6), and many others.

Such open, dense descriptions cry out to be meditated on again and again, and no one ever comes to the end of this process. The theological reason for this is simple: Jesus, who is identified through this drama and these statements, is alive and is present as God is present, so the Gospel is actually a means of relating to him in person, and no one ever comes to the end of that.

One of John’s favorite phrases, “eternal life,” is not so much about “life after death” as “life after the death and resurrection of Jesus”—life, with others, abiding in him, loved by him, and loving him (this approach to love and to death will be explored further in chapters 5 and 6). It is, as the title of O’Siadhail’s book says, Love Life.

The way Jesus is portrayed in the Gospel story is the main inspiration for our ideas and images of who Jesus is. It both disciplines our tendency to fantasize and to create self-serving or distorted images, and it frees us to go deeper and further, using our minds and imaginations in prayer, conversation, theology, the arts, relating to creation and other people, and acting in the world.

In other words, it is central in shaping our participation in the ongoing drama initiated by “Follow me!”

 

©2014 by David F. Ford. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.