The Lessons: Job 9:1-15, 32-35; Acts 10:34-48; John 7:37-52
Job. In the last chapter of Job we read “After the LORD had spoken these words to Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite: ‘My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends; for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. Now therefore take seven bulls and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly; for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has done.’” A useful text to read in tandem with today’s reading; it might expand our understanding of what speaking “what is right” sounds like.
Job laments the lack of an umpire (NRSV; “arbiter” in the NET) in his dispute with God (v.33). Christian commentators are tempted to rush in with “For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human” (1 Tim. 2:5). That is probably a temptation to be resisted; it plays into the hostile God and loving Jesus script that is the antithesis of the New Testament’s vision: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son…”
Acts. For neither the first nor the last time God’s challenge is not the pagan (Cornelius), but “the circumcised believers” (us), for whom “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him” is may be repeatedly a new thought.
John. “Search and you will see that no prophet is to arise from Galilee.” Understandably and justifiably this Gospel speaks from and to its context, in which hostile relations with the non-Christian Jewish community are front and center. One of the things that means for us is suggested by this from Bonhoeffer: “We no longer read the Bible seriously. We read it no longer against ourselves but only for ourselves.” Reading the Bible “against ourselves”: wondering which of our assumptions (like “no prophet is to arise from Galilee”) blind us to what God is doing in our midst now.