|“Knowing Him Comes Gradually”
A review of
Reviewed by Josh Wallace.
I often find myself in the last scenes of John’s Gospel. First I am with Jesus’ followers in the upper room, bewildered by the ordeal of Jesus’s crucifixion, hearts harboring the faintest hopes of a rumored resurrection. Suddenly, though the doors are bolted shut, Jesus stands among us, raising wounded hands to bless us. And though the doors are bolted shut, he sends us out with the same purposes for which his Father sent him.
Next, Jesus breathes on us the Spirit, to comfort and encourage, to authorize and to empower. “Receive the Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit, the ongoing presence of Immanuel, God with us, our share in Christ’s baptismal anointing, the love of Christ which compels us to unlock our doors and go out as ambassadors of reconciliation. Jesus’ has given us his Spirit.
Then I read chapter 21: Peter says, “Let’s go fishing.” Commentaries on this passage tell me that the apostles (for Jesus has indeed sent them) needed time to understand the full significance of their commission. Apparently. Only after Jesus shows up on the beach, after he shares breakfast with his friends, after he pulls Peter aside for a private conversation do we begin to realize with Peter the Spirit’s work: Jesus said to Peter, “Follow me” (John 21:19).
Two thousand years later, I am still with Peter on the beach, slowly coming to realize who this Spirit is, his intimate participation in the life of God, the life of Christ. Father John Oliver in Giver of Life: the Holy Spirit in Orthodox Tradition leads his readers in a similar patient, gradual unveiling of the Spirit’s significance. Continue Reading…