Plenty to consider in the questions this gospel raises… What would it take to believe it and how might it transform us?
Obviously, it’s a stretch. Of course God lavishly loves Jesus, the beautiful, compassionate, only son. But love us the same? Impossible!
Yet how can we conveniently delete this passage? Do we prefer the sad “take up your cross” lines? If so, why? Is this passage too good to be true?
If we believed we were God’s friends, not some lackeys of a distant, punitive deity, we might act with more confidence. We could relax. We would engage with God in the kind of easy conversation we have with friends, and never name it “prayer.” We would lean back into Christ as the beloved disciple did at the last supper, knowing we’re at home. We could be our lazy, irreverent, sometimes sloppy selves and it would be perfectly OK with God.
What was the purpose of Christ’s teaching? To create selfless martyrs, who grimly do titanic deeds? According to John 15:11, he came “so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.”
That line alone could make us rearrange our stuffy faces and stodgy lives.