The story of Jesus, at least the way John tells it, begins unspectacularly. “There was a man sent by God, and his name was John.” What does John do for a living? He is a preacher. We can’t get to Jesus without going through a witness, no epiphany without preaching.
Recently I went to see the newly acquired 18th-century Neopolitan crèche at Chicago’s Art Institute. The giant crèche fills a 15’X15’ cabinet. It will be exhibited for only five weeks because the dozens of terra cotta figurines, each about five to eight inches tall, are dressed in handmade embroidered fabrics too fragile to be exposed to the air year-round.
I returned to seminary a few years back to hear a professor teach John’s gospel as a remake of the Genesis narrative. The parallel between Genesis 1 and John 1 is obvious, but if you press forward, the connections run throughout.
A. M. Stroud III, a former prosecutor in Louisiana, expresses regret for the role he played in sending Glenn Ford to death row in 1984. “I was 33 years old. I was arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic and very full of myself. I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning.” Stroud says he presented dubious evidence from a forensic pathologist, precluded black jurors from the trial (Ford, since exonerated, is black), and ignored the fact that the appointed defense attorney had never before tried a criminal or capital case. “I . . . hope that providence will have more mercy for me than I showed Glenn Ford,” Stroud said in a letter to the editor of the Times of Shreveport. “But, I’m also sobered by the realization that I certainly am not deserving of it” (ABA Journal, March 25).