The problem for those who tried to harmonize all the resurrection stories in the Gospel is that there are too many of them. How could one story be right and another wrong? Such anguish comes from a failure to understand how the gospels were composed. There was no single tradition written down a few weeks after Pentecost and then preserved carefully until the Gospel authors settled down to write.
Rather different bits and pieces of Jesus stories were save by various of his followers and then handed down orally for decades. The point of the stories was never lost, but the form changed as they were told and retold. Then the Gospel writers, each with his own purpose and style, gathered together the stories that fit their narrative. Today’s Gospel may be the most charming -- the risen Jesus appears out of the morning mists on the shores of Galilee which he walked once before. It is not surprising that it is a well told story because the author of John’s Gospel was a master story teller (and also, perhaps surprisingly, a powerful mystic). Thus is the story of the Feast at Cana and the woman at the well are enchanting tales if we permit them to be so.
Did Jesus actually meet his followers on the beaches of the Lake after he rose from the dead? Who would dare deny it? Yet did the author of John remember the dialogue many decades later? Finally did he understand something about the risen Jesus that no one had made quite so clear before? Who would are deny that?
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Once upon a time a great woman’s softball coach had to retire because her family was moving away. The young women on the team were terribly disappointed because she was such a good coach and so sympathetic to all their problems. However, they thought that maybe she agreed to the family move because she was so fed up the adolescent personalities on her team. When she said good by to them, she told them that they had great potential if they’d only chill out and play their very best. Well, they made it very difficult for the next quote who quit before the year was over.
The next year they stumbled and bumbled through the season but made it to the play offs. No one gave them a chance to get beyond the first round. They were a bunch of spoiled cry babies. Then when the opening game of the playoffs began, they saw their old coach in the stands. She waved at them and smiled. They knew they were being forgiven for all their miscues and idiocies. She loved them even when they were nerds.
So they played like their lives depended on it and won the championship.
1 I will extol thee, O LORD, for thou hast drawn me
up, and hast not let my foes rejoice over me.
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