Coronavirus Pandemic Wednesday 29th April, 2020

Psalm 134; Exodus 24:1-11; John 21:1-14


Wednesday 29 April - Rev. Jerry Eve

 I always like it when we have names in the Bible. And so, in our reading from Exodus we have Aaron and two of his sons, Nadab and Abihu. We know this from earlier on in the same book at 6:23 (and elsewhere in what’s called the Pentateuch i.e. the five books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers & Deuteronomy. If ever I forget the order of these first five books of the Bible I always think of Elvis’s house for some reason – GracELaND).

 And then in John we have Simon Peter, Thomas and Nathanael. It’s an interesting list. Simon Peter gets both of the names he was known by, and Thomas does as well. But why doesn’t John mention the sons of Zebedee by name? Their names were James – and John, and I just wonder if the reason for this was that he himself didn’t want to be confused in readers’ minds with someone who was a ‘son of thunder’.

 He refers to himself as ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved,’ and maybe he just didn’t get on with them, or felt a little intimidated by them. They do seem to have acted mainly as Jesus’ bodyguards. I know I’m reading things into the text here, but I do think – without being able to be certain – that this is what we have to do to bring it to life.

 Incidentally, we first meet Nathanael at John 1:43-51, and I mentioned humour the other day. It may be that he makes a joke at verse 46, if you want to have a look, along the lines of the jokes Glaswegians have sometimes ‘unfairly’ made about people from Edinburgh, and vice versa.

 We can, however, know too much about people from their names. At the beginning of Leviticus 10, for example, we find out that, although here in Exodus, Nadab and Abihu are right at the centre of power, they then do something – and perhaps unwittingly – which causes their demise, in the same way that I’m reminded of Catherine Calderwood’s resignation earlier this month.

 And Simon Peter. The reason, of course that he gets his two names here is because – following his three-fold denial, he’s temporarily demoted (from Peter to Simon) until such time as he then receives three-fold forgiveness from Christ himself.

 The references to blood in Exodus, by the way, are all a bit yeuchy – I much prefer our Christian reinterpretation of these rituals (see Matthew 26:28 and its parallels including 1 Corinthians 11:25). The big question for me, though, today is: Who did count all those fish?

And now an old Breton prayer. Let us pray:

 O, God, the sea is so great and my boat is so small, Amen.


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