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Daily Devotional for January 8

January 8                                                           John 1:1-34

In his novel of the life of Jesus, Nikos Kazantzakis describes
a sunrise conversation between Jesus and John the Baptist.
Sitting in the hollow of a rock above the Jordan, they are
discussing the fate of the world. Kazantzakis describes the face
of John as severe and decisive, that of Jesus as tame and
resolute, with eyes full of compassion.

"Isn't love enough?" Jesus asks.

"No. The tree is rotten," John responds. "God called me and
gave me the ax, which I then placed at the roots of the tree.
I did my duty. Now you do yours. Take the ax and strike."

And Jesus answers: "If I were fire, I would burn; if I were a
woodcutter, I would strike. But I am a heart, and I love." ¹

John did not recognize the Lamb of God. Perhaps he expected
not a lamb but a wolf, not healing and accepting love but a
purifying and destroying fire. But the only fire that Jesus
kindled was the spirit of Pentecost, and the only wood he
needed to have cut was the cross he mounted for us.

The images of Jesus we fashion and shape for ourselves reveal
our deepest needs, our real fears, our vision of the reign of
God. As with John, perhaps the image of the lamb doesn't
always fit comfortably for us. The lamb reminds us even in
the midst of our seeming powerlessness that we must accede
to the slaughter of our preferred ways of bringing about the
reign and accept God's call to us to forgive and heal.

       Jesus, like John I too am tempted at times to burn
   and cut my way to justice and dignity and freedom. But
 you have made me heart, and I must love. For this is the
     only way that I and others around me will know that
                we are indeed all God's chosen ones.

¹ Kazantzakis. Nikos. The Last Temptation of Christ (New York: Simon and
Schuster, 1986), p. 235.

From The Road to Emmaus - An inclusive devotional Edited by Joseph W. Houle

Emmaus House of Prayer - Washington D.C.1989  

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