As John opens his telling of the Good News of Jesus, he simultaneously connects and separates the Old and New, the ‘what was,’ and the ‘what is.’ He deftly acknowledges Moses’ critical role in Jewish history while shining a spotlight on the Person and Mission of Jesus. The first, to mollify the rigidity of his own people, and the second, to highlight the long-awaited arrival of the promised Messiah. Below, are four (4) contemporary translations of John 1:17:

“For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ.”  NLT

“You see, Moses gave us rules to live by, but Jesus the Anointed offered us gifts of grace and truth.” VOICE

“We got the basics from Moses, and then this exuberant giving and receiving, this endless knowing and understanding – all this came through Jesus, the Messiah.” MSG

“Moses gave us the Law, but Jesus, the Anointed One, unveils truth wrapped in tender mercy.”TPT

Maybe one presenting problem with Jesus was not that he was harsher and more demanding. That might have been more readily received, accustomed as the Jewish people were to others telling them what to do and what not to do, what freedoms they could enjoy and which ones were denied them. The most difficult thing, as I look at Jesus’ ministry, is that it sounded too good to be true to the average Jew, and too threatening to those with a measure of status and power. To one, the Law was an impossible burden, while to the other, the Law served to keep the status quo (to which they clung) snugly in place.

I see Jesus’ disciples fitting into the first category. They felt the strictures of the Law in every aspect of their lives. Moving up or out of their social circles was not an achievable goal. They were the 9-5, ‘paycheck to paycheck’ group. The capricious Roman tax system (along with its attendant corruption) assured that this would be their lot.

Then came Jesus with his hard-to-believe message of God’s love and favor – on them! Little wonder Bible translators ‘hear,’ and choose to emphasize in John’s account, these words: ‘unfailing love and faithfulness,’ ‘gifts of grace and truth,’ ‘exuberant giving and receiving.’ ‘unveiled truth wrapped in tender mercy.’ These were previously non-existent in daily Jewish life. Judgments, penalties, sacrifices, all these were their everyday realities. When Jesus chose his 12 students, the journey to belief from weary cynicism was anything but smooth. We may have come from a ‘reality’ of harshness, criticism, failure, shame, etc. making our journey just as tough as theirs. If so, Jesus still graciously invites us to come away with him. See all you fellow journeyers tomorrow, 10 AM, 3 PM UK, 4 PM FR.  PD

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