Jesus The King, Merkabah Mysticism And The Gospel Of John -- By: Jey J. Kanagaraj

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 47:2 (NA 1996)
Article: Jesus The King, Merkabah Mysticism And The Gospel Of John
Author: Jey J. Kanagaraj


Jesus The King, Merkabah Mysticism
And The Gospel Of John

Jey J. Kanagaraj

Summary

As King, the Johannine Jesus humbly reveals God’s kingly glory, in sharp contrast to the world’s expectations because he himself is, as the Son, one with the Father. This oneness in glory is plainly portrayed in John 12:41, where John interprets Isaiah’s vision of the enthroned God as a vision of Christ’s glory. A true vision of Jesus as King perceives him paradoxically as the Man in his lowliness, shame, suffering and crucifixion, and as the one who bears witness to the truth and exercises judgement. Such a presentation of Jesus’ kingship indicates that John is addressing to some extent the Jews of his time who had great interest in Merkabah mysticism—the experience of seeing God on the throne in human-like form, after the pattern of Ezekiel 1, Isaiah 6, and Daniel 7. John testifies to what was seen and heard before the people, calling them to believe in Jesus, the Man and the King, and to see his glory enthroned supremely on the cross.

I. Introduction

The theme of kingship in Johannine Christology is a recognised feature of the Fourth Gospel. The Johannine depiction of Jesus as King has been explored recently by several scholars. W.A. Meeks, for example, argued in 1967 that in the Fourth Gospel, particularly in John 10 and 18:33-38a, Jesus’ kingship is being redefined in terms of the mission of the prophet.1 He understood kingship in John against the background of the mystical traditions centred on Moses, who, as some Jews from at least the second century B.C.E. believed, was

crowned on Mt. Sinai as prophet and king.2 M. de Jonge developed this view further by saying that Jesus’ kingship and his prophetic mission in John are both redefined in terms of the unique relationship between Son and Father.3 Nevertheless, it is often overlooked that the Johannine idea of kingship, which dominates the trial narrative (Jn. 18:28-19:16), links together several typically Johannine motifs; it, therefore, can hardly be dismissed by showing its link with Jesus’ prophetic role or with his sonship alone. This article, in turn, seeks to examine afresh the nature of Jesus’ kingship in John. Does John ...

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