Un-Self-Made — Saturday Sermons from the Sidelines

John 15:1-8; 5 Easter B 2021

“I am the Vine, and you are the branches,” Jesus tells his disciples. “The one who abides in me and I in that one, that one bears much fruit…” So far, so good. Now comes one of the most “un-American” statements in the Christian scriptures. When we abide in Jesus, the Valid Vine, we will bear much fruit “because apart from me, you are unable to do anything” (John 15:5).

“America” has often been described as more of an idea than a country. In fact, the idea of America is filled with myths and useful half-truths as well as a great deal of real history. One of those myths is the “Story of the Self-made Man.”

Wikipedia notes that the phrase was first uttered in official records “on February 2, 1842 by Henry Clay in the United States Senate, to describe individuals whose success lay within the individuals themselves, not with outside conditions.” Clay was holding forth on the values and virtues of American industry and wealth in a “free market” system.  He argued that government should protect the ability of such industry to be “self-made.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-made_man).

Perhaps you see the irony already.

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It is an interesting turn of phrase to come from Clay’s mouth. He was the inheritor of slaves, land, and some social position. Even though his family fell on hard times briefly, his widowed mother remarried well. That second marriage increased Clay’s access to wealth, privilege, and – most of all – political power and connections. Clay certainly made the most of what he received and served the national government honorably and well.

The myth of the self-made man, however, is the very essence of the system of white, male supremacy and inherited privilege.

Even though the phrase was coined in the 1840’s, it was in the 1930’s to the 1950’s that the myth really took hold. Just at the time when white American men received more outside help than at any other time in history, the mythology of the self-made man came to greatest prominence.

In the age of Depression-era jobs programs, the GI Bill, federal encouragement of white, male, home ownership, and postwar protection of jobs for white men, the very same men asserted with vehemence and violence that they owed nothing to no one (the double negative is in the Greek of John 15:5 and works in Greek even if it doesn’t in “standard” English).

Apart from me, you are unable to do anything,” Jesus says. The clash with the mythology of the self-made man is obvious and therefore must be suppressed.

This mythology is part of the “America” to which Donald Trump longed to return in his slogan “Make America Great Again.” It was more than a desire to make America “white again,” although that is certainly part of it. It was more than a desire to make American “male again,” although that is also certainly part of it.

It is the desire to make un-white and un-male America the invisible and unnamed basis for claims to white, male self-sufficiency. Claims to the contrary are attacked with vehemence and violence. After all, that is another part of what it means to “make America great again.” We witnessed that part of supposed American “greatness” on January 6, 2021, in the United States capitol.

Why is this myth so seductive? And why does challenging that myth produce such a violent and vitriolic response? First, the myth of the self-made man means that I get the credit for any and all successes. And I don’t have to share that credit with anyone. After all, “I did it my way.” The Paul Anka lyrics have served as propaganda for presidents from Nixon to Reagan to Trump.

The myth can’t be sustained, of course. No one is a self-made anything. But the more it becomes clear that we didn’t do it all on our own, the louder we say we did.

It’s no accident that Rick Santorum assumes the Doctrine of Discovery (the theological and political background of the self-made myth) in remarks to an audience at the Young Americans Foundation. If there was nothing here when “we” arrived, then by golly we must have built it all ourselves! Hurrah for us (white, land-owning, men)!

“We came here and created a blank slate,” he told his audience. “We birthed a nation from nothing. I mean, there was nothing here.” History has a way of calling stupidity into question, so Santorum tried to qualify his comment, only to make it even worse. “I mean, yes we have Native Americans,” he admitted, “but candidly there isn’t much Native American culture in American culture.”

The price of the myth of the self-made man (and the self-made country) is twofold. On the one hand, others matter only if they are useful commodities – like Africans who were enslaved by the self-made. On the other hand, those who refuse to be useful must be erased from history, memory, and moral calculus.

This is the story of white, male treatment of Native Americans. When Santorum says we “created a blank slate,” he was actually quite right. The “slate” wasn’t “blank” until Native Americans were removed and erased from the frame.

This brings us to the second reason why this myth is so seductive. If I am self-made, then I have permission to simply not give a shit about anyone else. Especially, I am permitted – no, required – to ignore anyone who might need some help to get ahead. After all, I did on my own, right? Why can’t you?

Perhaps the myth of the self-made man goes all the way back to Cain. Am I my brother’s and sister’s keeper? The myth says, no – of course not. Hebrew and Christian scriptures beg to differ.

So, the myth of the self-made man is binary and dualistic. It is the war of all against all. Others are at best commodities to be consumed. Others are most likely enemies to be erased.

Apart from me,” Jesus says, “you are unable to do anything.” In our American mythology, this is bad news. But in the Christian worldview, this is the best news possible. Remember, Jesus first says, “I am the Vine, and you are the branches.”

We don’t have to do anything apart from Jesus. He is the Vine, and we are the branches. When we abide in him, we will bear much fruit.

For those who don’t think this connection to Jesus matters, I probably don’t have much of any interest to share. You may wish to listen further out of curiosity. Or not. But I have a bit more to say.

We Christians have some elementary sense of what we think Jesus does for us. Through Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension, God has defeated the powers of sin, death, and evil. The battles are not done, but the outcome of the struggle is not in doubt. As a Jesus follower, I receive the benefits of forgiveness, life, and salvation (of course, I believe that everyone else gets those benefits too).

That’s what Jesus does for us. Many Christians never go further than that. I’m so glad, they think, that God has had the good sense to rescue me and preserve my life for eternity. I’m glad (at least in theory) to share that good news with others. That being said, please let me get on with my self-making project.

If that’s all that’s happening, then it’s not really good news for anyone else. But the for part is only half the gospel.

The other half is what Jesus does through us. That’s what is really at stake in this image of the Vine and the branches. God works in us and through us to give abundant life to the world in the here and now. The life we receive in Jesus empowers us to pass that life on. In fact, passing it on is what “abundant life” really means! So I should ask myself each day — How am I being good news for others?

That’s not just a metaphor or a nice idea. It’s how we do church. I am not a self-made Christian. My parents and the generations before them have given me the gift of faith and tradition, piety and practice, that make me in large part what I am. People have gone out of their way to help me accomplish things in life. I’d like to take credit for this life, but I can’t. Naming and thanking all the people who have made me would take more time and space than this meditation!

Self-made is not “God-made.” The best we can do on our own is to produce lives that are knock-offs, cheap imitations of the Abundant Life. The best we can do is produce a life that looks like cut flowers – pretty for a while but destined for death in the end.

Apart from me,” Jesus says, “you are unable to do anything.” For us as Jesus followers, that’s the good news.

My experience of being filled with Jesus’ life is that I end up doing things I never thought possible. Rarely do I do those things alone. Never do I do those things without help. But that makes them no less valuable. The corollary of Jesus’ words here is Paul’s statement in his letter to the Philippians – “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

When we are abiding together on the Vine – when we are helping one another to flourish and grow and be fruitful – that’s when we are most like Jesus. When we have the opportunity to help another, we should jump at the chance. It’s another opportunity to live the Abundant Life. When we have the opportunity to be helped by another, we should jump at the chance. That’s the Abundant Life flowing through the Vine as well.

The call today is to be Unself Made. That’s where the real Life is.

Text Study for John 15:1-17 (Pt. 2); 5 Easter B 2021

“I am the Valid Vine,” Jesus declares to his disciples, “and my Father is the Vinedresser.” Various forms of the Greek word for “truth” are found in John’s gospel – some thirty-five instances in all. These instances are especially associated with Jesus’ assertions of identity as the One who descends from and ascends to the Father. The Hebrew word for “truth” is transliterated as “Emeth” and deserves some attention.

“Truth” in the contemporary sense is primarily accordance with facts or accepted reality. It is often regarded as something which is either the case as an axiom or can be empirically verified. This is the “correspondence” view of the nature of truth. If we limit ourselves only to the correspondence view of truth, we will go off the tracks in our reading and interpretation of John’s gospel and of the Christian scriptures in general.

“Emeth” has a basic meaning of “reliability.” The word “is used absolutely to denote a reality which is to be regarded as… ‘firm,’ and therefore ‘solid,’ ‘valid,’ or ‘binding” (Quell, TDNT I:233). It has to do with things that are permanent and continuing. “Emeth” is directly related to “emen” which means “truly.” This term is transliterated in the gospels as “amen” and is used by Jesus – especially in John – as a way to identify a solemn truth spoken by Jesus.

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Truth, in this sense, is marked by faithfulness, steadfastness, dependability. The Hebrew scriptures certainly understand that some things are “real” and other things are not. However, truth is more than mere correspondence in the Hebrew scriptures. Truth is reliable. Therefore, truth is “relational.”

This has immediate consequences for understanding the Christian scriptures as well. Truth is the basis for faith, both in Paul’s letters and in John’s gospel. But faith is not some mere intellectual assent to a set of “facts” or axioms. Faith is primarily trust – reliance on the dependability and steadfastness of another, particularly God. Luther understands this, for example when, in his Large Catechism, he defines a god as whatever we rely upon in life and in death.

When we get to the Greek term that conveys the Hebrew sense, we get a word that basically means “non-concealment” ((Bultmann, TDNT I:238). The word is “a-letheia.” The Greek word “lethe” means “forgetfulness.” The River Lethe, in Greek mythology, is the river the dead pass over and begin to forget their embodied lives, for example. So, in literal terms, “truth” is non-forgetting what is there.

For the Greeks, truth represents the actual state of affairs, which can often be covered by false appearances. But the word has less of the sense of reliability and steadfastness found in the Hebrew term. In John, truth is always connected to God, the One who is “really real.” The Word is the Legitimate Light that is coming into the cosmos (John 1:9). The reliable bread comes down from heaven, and Jesus brings it (John 6). Jesus is the reliable way to life in John 14. And he is the Valid Vine in our text.

Why does this matter? When we impose the limited, correspondence definition of “truth” on this and other texts in the Christian scriptures, we will get unreliable results. John is not asserting some factual veracity about Jesus. John is promising that Jesus is the steadfast, reliable, continuing Love of God for the cosmos, dwelling among us. John invites us to “abide” in Jesus as that relational Truth in order to access and continue to have the abundant life which God offers to all.

The limited, correspondence, definition of “truth” makes our text and others like it into a sorting sieve, and “unbelievers” are then found wanting and rejected. This is not what John’s gospel intends. “This is a passage from John,” Karoline Lewis (2018) reminds us. “These are the consequences of separation, not statements about a lack of righteousness. This describes the reality of disconnection,” she argues, “not the determination of who is in and who is out.” Lewis notes that these are words from the Farewell Discourse – words to comfort the disciples as they contemplate Jesus’ departure.

These are not words of condemnation or punishment for unfaithfulness. But they do describe consequences. Disconnection from Jesus means withering and dying. Remaining connected to Jesus means flourishing in the abundant life. The vine and the branches as a figure of speech conveys this message with brilliance and depth.

“Every branch in me which is not bearing fruit,” Jesus says in verse 2, “[the Vinedresser] takes out that one.” Let me illustrate.

We have a couple of older trees in our yard. Some of the branches are budding and leafing out in the spring. Other branches remain bare and brown. Those branches are dead. They are not receiving life from the tree trunk, their only connection to the ground, and water, and nutrients. It will be best for the trees (and for the safety of us who stand under them) for those branches to be removed. When we remove the branches, we are not “punishing” them for being unproductive. We are simply responding to the fact that they are no longer alive. They can no longer depend on the trunk for life.

“And every one which is bearing fruit,” Jesus continues, “[the Vinedresser] cleans up in order that it might bear more fruit.” As I noted in the previous post, there is a word play involving “takes out” and “cleans up.” These are similar actions, John seems to be saying, with quite different results.

Every three years this text shows up early in the gardening season. It reminds me how much I hate pruning our garden plants. It’s not the task itself that bothers me. It feels wasteful to me.

As I pinch off one of those sucker branches on a tomato plant, I wonder if that’s the branch that would have produced the most tomatoes. When I remove some lower branches on a cucumber vine, I’m sure I’ve just reduced my total crop (even though I know I haven’t). If I take a few lower stems off the zucchini, I know I’ve opened up a spot for a hungry worm to invade, and I’ll have to watch that spot closely.

It’s not sloth I’m battling. It’s greed – and the fear of scarcity. This is one of my habits of hoarding (though certainly not the only one). I’m sure that because I’m clipping off some branches, there won’t be enough vegetables at the end of the process. I’m sure I’m contributing to the problem. I don’t trust the vine to produce enough unless I leave every last blessed branch.

Of course, if I do so, I’m actually reducing the final yield. Pruning and cleaning are not “punishments” for the plants. Pruning and cleaning leave some small injuries on the stems that will heal just fine if I pay adequate attention. In fact, pruning and cleaning are acts of care. The goal is to improve the harvest – to equip the remaining branches to bear much fruit.

John’s gospel is concerned about Jesus followers who are considering leaving the Jesus movement and staying with their previous faith communities. That’s why John is concerned about “abiding” in the truth of the Messiah, the Son of God, who is Jesus. This is the difference between me and the branches on my tomato plants. Those branches stay put unless I take them off. I can leave the Valid Vine if I so choose and try to find abundant life elsewhere.

Jesus “leaves his disciples with a picture of their relationship that communicates the unquestionable connectedness between them and Jesus, even in the face of Jesus’ absence,” Lewis writes. “It is an image of absolute dependence, certain reliance, and a binding relationship that is severed only when we choose to walk away. The only judgment here is on us,” she concludes, “when we decide to abscond from abiding in Jesus.”

We humans are twice as sensitive to threat as we are to opportunity. We are primed to hear news as bad even when it’s good. That is certainly the case in John 15. Lewis (2018) pleads with us as preachers to hear this text as Gospel rather than Law: “hear these words that are comfort, not condemnation. That are reassurance and not rejection. That are invitation and not abnegation. Without Jesus, being connected to Jesus, to the vine, a life filled with resurrection all around is not possible.”

That being said, I don’t think this text can or should be used to assure ourselves that we Jesus followers have a corner on the Truth market. It’s fruit-bearing that indicates a current connection to the Valid Vine. When I hear the Hebrew word for truth, “Emeth,” I go immediately to the final volume of the Narnia Saga, The Last Battle. C. S. Lewis creates a character in that book named “Emeth.”

Emeth is a soldier for the Other Side. Yet, he finds himself in the New Narnia, Lewis’ imagery for Heaven or the New Creation. Emeth is as surprised as anyone to discover his new location, since he was on the side of the Enemy. Aslan, the Christ figure in the Chronicles, explains the situation to Emeth. “I take to me the services which thou hast done to [the Enemy].  For I and he are of such different kinds,” Aslan continues, “that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him” (page 189).

Seeking the Truth is demonstrated by bearing fruit. And that fruit may appear in the most surprising of places, Lewis seems to say. “Beloved,” Aslan says to Emeth, “unless thy desire had been for me thou would not have sought so long and so truly. For all find,” the Great Lion concludes, “what they truly seek” (page 189).

Jesus is the Valid Vine. Branches connected to that Vine bear much fruit and in that way prove to be his disciples. We should be careful as we read and interpret this text to remember that Jesus chooses the branches, not us. And we should encourage all who seek the Truth.

References and Resources

Brooks, Gennifer Benjamin. https://www.workingpreacher.org/commentaries/revised-common-lectionary/fifth-sunday-of-easter-2/commentary-on-john-151-8-5.

Bruce, F.F. The Gospel of John: A Verse-by-Verse Exposition. Kingsley Books. Kindle Edition.

Lewis, C. S. The Last Battle. New York: HarperCollins, 1984.

Lewis, Karoline. “On Withering” (April 23, 2018)  https://www.workingpreacher.org/dear-working-preacher/on-withering.

Malina, Bruce, and Rohrbaugh, Richard. Social-Science Commentary on the Gospel of John. Minneapolis, MN.: Fortress Press, 1998.

Vena, Osvaldo. https://www.workingpreacher.org/commentaries/revised-common-lectionary/fifth-sunday-of-easter-2/commentary-on-john-151-8-4.

Text Study for John 15:1-8 (9-17), Pt 1; 5 Easter B 2021

“The theme being underscored,” write Malina and Rohrbaugh, “is that of enduring relationship with Jesus on the part of each disciple and the joyous outcome of this relationship” (page 233). Jesus uses another “figure of speech” to illustrate the intimate encounter with and connection to Jesus that has been at the center of John’s gospel account from the beginning.

“The note in v. 6 about persons (branches) not fully engrafted into the vine is a warning about what will happen if the close interpersonal bond is weakened. Such language implies substantial concern among group members that strong boundaries be maintained between fully committed insiders and all others. Only by maintaining the close ties with Jesus and one another (vv. 12-17) will they be safe.” (Malina and Rohrbaugh, page 234).

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The text contains at least a couple of word-plays that are a challenge to replicate in an English translation. For example, in verse one the words for “real” and “vine” begin with the same letter. The closest I’ve come so far is to translate that as the “valid vine.” The words in verse two for “remove” and “prune” are the same except for a prefix on the latter word. I haven’t been able to capture that one in English yet.

In addition, the word for “prune” in verse two is related to the word for “clean” in verse three. Bruce notes the echo in this verse of John 13:10, where Jesus notes that the community is “clean, but not all.” He suggests that “Judas was the exception then, and in terms of the present parable, he is an unfruitful branch that has to be removed” (page 416).

There are also words that can escape notice in the English. In verse three, it is “The Word” that Jesus has been speaking to them that cleans the disciples. I suspect that we are to make an immediate connection with the Prologue of the Gospel and the note that the Word remains among us, full of grace and truth. In verse 7, we get a different and more everyday term for “words.” In this verse, Jesus talks about the actual speaking he has carried out with the disciples. They will remember those words most clearly after the Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension.

Bruce asserts that there is no difference between “the word” and “the words” in this passage, except for the number. I’m not sure he is correct in that regard. That being said, he does offer a useful distinction. The Word, he proposes, is Jesus’ teaching in its entirety. The words “are the individual utterances which  make up” the Word (page 417).

That being said, we have a clear connection to John 8:31-38. In particular, we hear Jesus tell the disciples, “If you remain in my Word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

And then there is the word “remain” or “abide.” It is the Greek word, meno. It is such a simple word. It is also one of the most important words in John’s Gospel. The Word becomes flesh and “dwells” among us. John’s gospel uses the term for “remain” or “abide.” It is, in the most literal translation, the verb for to “tabernacle among” a community. Some would translate it as to pitch a tent. Bruce translates it as “to find a lodging place.” I think the most accurate and evocative translation is something like “to make a home with” or “to be at home with” someone.

Bruce describes this imagery as a “parable,” but that seems to be stretching the idea of “parable.” I would suggest that it is much more of a metaphor, another “paroimia” like that of the Good Shepherd in John 10. It is quite nearly an allegory, since the correspondences in the imagery are one-to-one. The Father is the vinedresser. Jesus in the vine. The disciples are the branches. Their life together in apostolic ministry is the fruit of the vine. Osvaldo Vena suggests, in his workingpreacher.org commentary that this image “is not a parable nor an allegory but a mashal, a Semitic form that includes an image and its application to real life.”

The vine and the branches lead us into a treasury of imagery in the Hebrew Scriptures. We can begin with Psalm 80:8-19. The Psalmist describes Israel as a “vine” the Lord brought out of Egypt. It’s a typical practice in vine dressing to maintain and treasure the root stock of a favorite variety of grapes. Even after great destruction, the root can survive to be re-planted in new soil. That’s the image the Psalmist employs here. The Lord clears the ground, plants the stock, and it flourishes, filling the land.

The Psalm is written in light of the Babylonian Exile. The Psalmist wonders why, after all that careful tending and cultivation, the Lord allowed the walls of the vineyard (an allusion to the destruction of Jerusalem) to be broken down and for outsiders to ravage the vineyard. This is, by the way, the Psalm that Pope Leo quotes in his bull of excommunication against Luther at the start of the Reformation (but I digress).

The Psalmist prays that the Lord will look once again and “have regard for this vine, the stock that your right hand planted” (verse 14). Even though the enemies have burned off the branches and cut down the trunk, there is still the chance for repentance and new life. “Restore us, O Lord God of hosts,” the Psalmist prays, “let your face shine, that we may be saved.”

The final word of the Psalm is the same root as “Jesus” in Hebrew and Aramaic. It’s not surprising that this psalm might result in extended meditation by the early church on the restoration of the Lord’s vine. We might think of the shoot that is to come out of the stump of Jesse in the prophet Micah. This is best understood in terms of the root stock of the vine. When it is replanted, it will produce a new shoot from the primordial root. Jesus is…the Vine.

Ezekiel 15 – Here we have Ezekiel’s vision of the “useless vine.” The Lord reminds the prophet that the “wood” of the vine is good for nothing unless it produces fruit. “Is wood taken from it to make anything”? the Lord asks the prophet. “Does one take a peg from it on which to hang any object?” The answer is a clear “no.” Wood from the grape vine produces fruit or finds the fire. And it’s not all that good even for burning.

The vision is a prelude to an oracle of judgment against Judah. “Like the wood of the vine among the trees of the forest, which I have given to the fire for fuel,” the Lord declares, “so I will give up the inhabitants of Jerusalem” (verse 6). The outcome of the Lord’s judgment will be a land that is desolate like a burned over vineyard “because they acted faithlessly” (verse 8). The Hebrew is emphatic here as the prophet notes they were “faithlessly unfaithful.”

That vision is expanded in chapter 17 and applied specifically the King of Judah. That is not, however, the final word even in Ezekiel. In chapter 19, the fate of the vine is rehearsed yet again. The vine is mishandled by the king, stripped of its fruit, burned in fury, and transplanted “into a dry and thirsty land” (Babylon). The oracle is a lamentation but note that the root stock has been preserved. We remember the words of the Psalmist, that new growth may come out of this destruction.

It is impossible to talk about grapes and vineyards in the New Testament without singing the Song of the Unproductive Vineyard in Isaiah 5:1-7. Again, the Lord is a vine dresser who prepares for and plants a vineyard. After all that labor, the vine dresser expects a productive harvest. Instead, the vineyard produces wild grapes, unfit for harvest. The prophet draws a comparison between the unfruitful vineyard and “the inhabitants of Jerusalem” (verse 3).

In response to the unfaithfulness, the Lord will expose the vineyard to the ravages of the enemy. In particular, the vine shall be left to its own devices. It shall not be “pruned or hoed.” In fact, pruning is an exercise of care for the vine dresser, not a sort of punishment. That’s important to keep in mind as we read and interpret the imagery in John 15.

In addition, we get a prophetic description of the “fruit” expected from a faithful vineyard. The Lord expects justice and righteousness from a faithful vineyard. What the Lord receives from an unfaithful vineyard is bloodshed and cries of anguish from the vulnerable.

The injustice the prophet sees is then described in the next oracle in Isaiah 5, where the Lord condemns those “who join house to house, who add field to field, until there is room for no one but you…” A symptom of that injustice is that vineyards are not productive, and fields return minimal harvests. Bearing fruit is a major concern in John 15 and connects to the Isaiah 5 oracles in this regard.

John’s community was under significant stress when this gospel account was written. On the one hand, as Osvaldo Vena notes, “there seems to have been a problem in the community with people’s loyalty and faithfulness which the evangelist is trying to address.” On the other hand, there is a pruning necessary if the healthy branches are to bear more fruit. This could easily be read as exclusive, judgmental, and even sectarian, Vena notes. Is there anything for us now in this text?

Vena notes that it is our intimate connection to Jesus’ words – his gospel message – that nourishes the church to bear fruit. In our time, we may need to put much more energy and effort into that intimate connection. That connection, however, is not merely an individual one. Instead, branches grow together and are entwined with one another. The intimacy with Jesus and his words produces an intimacy with other branches of the vine.

Bearing fruit “is not about judgment,” writes Gennifer Benjamin Brooks in her workingpreacher.org commentary, “it is about growth. Because as the dead branches are removed, those that remain adhered to the vine become stronger and contribute to the health of the vine. That is a message that in this time carries much urgency,” she concludes, “for the contemporary church in all its divisions for the sake of the diversity that is the true Body of Christ.”

References and Resources

Brooks, Gennifer Benjamin. https://www.workingpreacher.org/commentaries/revised-common-lectionary/fifth-sunday-of-easter-2/commentary-on-john-151-8-5.

Bruce, F.F. The Gospel of John: A Verse-by-Verse Exposition. Kingsley Books. Kindle Edition.

Malina, Bruce, and Rohrbaugh, Richard. Social-Science Commentary on the Gospel of John. Minneapolis, MN.: Fortress Press, 1998.

Vena, Osvaldo. https://www.workingpreacher.org/commentaries/revised-common-lectionary/fifth-sunday-of-easter-2/commentary-on-john-151-8-4.