Monthly Archives: February, 2005

John 7:32-36 / Crystal

Jesus then said, “I will be with you a little while longer, and then I am going to him who sent me. You will search for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.”

… to me, this means Jesus had a good idea that he would soon be arrested and executed – he knew that then he would go to be with the father. The line about searching but not finding … I don’t understand that but maybe it refers to the time between Jesus’ death and his resurrection, when he was “dead” and unfindable? Where was he during that time?

It also makes me think of that mysterious time period between Jesus’ resurrection and his ascension … he hung around quite a bit, “seeking and finding” the dispirited disciples, who oddly didn’t at first recognise him, and jollying them up.

The Jews said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we will not find him? Does he intend to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks and teach the Greeks? What does he mean by saying, ‘You will search for me and you will not find me’ and ‘Where I am, you cannot come’?”

… once again this is an instance of people misunderstanding what Jesus has said, in John. Another point, somewhere I read a commentary that pointed out that the “Jews” never ask Jesus these questions directly but only talk about the issues among themselves, thus never getting any answers. This reminds me of Meredith’s post about the difference between bible study and prayer/conversing with/being with God.

Christ and Us/David on John 7:32-36

The scriptures seems to contradict each other on this crucial (going-to-the-cross) issue. Christ Jesus is the only begotten son of God. But we are all called to be children of God. Where he goes we cannot come. But we are called to take up our crosses and follow him.

There are ways of resolving this (perhaps apparent) contradiction. Like the conservatives we can emphasize the divinity of Christ and place our own divinity in brackets as it were and off to the side. Like liberals we can emphasize the divinity of us all and affirm that we are children of God just like Jesus.

Or can emphasize the humanity of both Jesus and us. We can see the differing statements as differing voices within the early church. Affirm the diversity of beliefs. Relativize both the claims of Jesus’ sonship and our own.

We can try to reconcile the two. Do some philosophical metaphysics. Jesus: child of God by nature and us: children by calling. Birth vs. adoption. And the metaphors in scripture support this one too.

Maybe none of these work for very long. Maybe I need Christ to be God on Sunday morning so I can be more godly on Monday. Maybe I need to hold all these possibilities inside myself in creative tension.

Sometimes there are no answers.

Where I Go You Cannot Follow (John 7:32-36)

The Pharisees heard the crowd muttering such things about him, and the chief priests and Pharisees sent temple police to arrest him.

Jesus then said, “I will be with you a little while longer, and then I am going to him who sent me. You will search for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.”

The Jews said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we will not find him? Does he intend to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks and teach the Greeks? What does he mean by saying, ‘You will search for me and you will not find me’ and ‘Where I am, you cannot come’?” (NRSV)

* * *

The Pharisees heard that the people murmured such things concerning him; and the Pharisees and the chief priests sent officers to take him.

Then said Jesus unto them, Yet a little while am I with you, and then I go unto him that sent me. Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come.

Then said the Jews among themselves, Whither will he go, that we shall not find him? will he go unto the dispersed among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles? What manner of saying is this that he said, Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come? (KJV – AV1611)

Could This Be the Christ?

Now some of the people of Jerusalem were saying, “Is not this the man whom they are trying to kill? And here he is, speaking openly, but they say nothing to him! Can it be that the authorities really know that this is the Messiah? Yet we know where this man is from; but when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from.”

Then Jesus cried out as he was teaching in the temple, “You know me, and you know where I am from. I have not come on my own. But the one who sent me is true, and you do not know him. I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.”

Then they tried to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him, because his hour had not yet come. Yet many in the crowd believed in him and were saying, “When the Messiah comes, will he do more signs than this man has done?”

Jesus Teaches at the Temple

(John 7:18) He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.

I, too, was stuck by the fact that Jesus said his teaching was not his own – it came from God. Thus he was speaking from a deep inner knowing, and, though he knew scripture, he did not use it to justify his knowing God or for speaking for God. Jesus was not teaching from a need to be calling attention to himself, but rather from a deep spiritual calling to speak from that of God within him. At this point he is speaking from his truest self – “nothing false about him.” It wasn’t all about him, or as we sometimes joke, “It isn’t all about you.”

I have loved reading and contemplating these scriptures with you, my friends on this blog. However, for me, while this study of scripture is illuminating and inspirational, I do not sense that scripture study places me in closer connection with God. Spending time in silence, deep listening, quieting myself so that “I” seem to disappear – that is when God feels most present to me. When I am moved to speak about God, I notice again that “I” recedes, and only the message remains. Messages from God seem to have a special energy, a vibration and a certain truth that rings clear.

Going to the Festival in Secret

But after his brothers had gone to the festival, then he also went, not publicly but as it were in secret.

It seems Jesus’ teachings had become general knowledge but in the absence of tabloid journalism his face had not. He attended the festival apart from family and disciples so he could teach without the prejudices built up by the controversies interpreting his words for him.

He became for a time just another itinerant teacher making squawking sounds at a religious festival. But his words drew attention. And controversy followed.

Then Jesus responds: My teaching is not mine but his who sent me. Anyone who resolves to do the will of God will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own.

Can we take this as a guide for reading scripture? Unless we commit to doing God’s will — we will not have it revealed to us. If this were true — what does that do to our little Bible study? What does it mean for faith?

It takes some thought (and prayer) to stretch the mind around it all. I can know that roses are red without committing to growing them. But the will of God isn’t that kind of knowledge. I must commit to doing God’s will before I can hear it and know it to be so. Thus, it is impossible to know God’s will in the abstract only in the particular. Not do not steal but do not steal this thing now.

And later we will hear:

The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers. (John 10:3-5)

Jesus at the Festival / Marjorie

About the middle of the festival Jesus went up into the temple and began to teach. The Jews were astonished at it, saying, “How does this man have such learning, when he has never been taught?”

Aha, a scriptural basis for my for my choice of educational philosophies, unschooling. Maybe I’m twisting that a bit, but I love the Biblical reference to the idea that people can learn best on their own and do not need to be ‘taught’ in order to learn. Of course, Jesus being God may undercut my application of this to my children.

Then Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine but his who sent me.Anyone who resolves to do the will of God will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own. Those who speak on their own seek their own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and there is nothing false in him.”

This is a great comfort to me as I try to discern the Lord’s leading in my life. Of course, its also a huge responsibility, which is probably why it makes me anxious. It is reassuring to hear that we will know if we truly seek; God is not playing games with us.

“Did not Moses give you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why are you looking for an opportunity to kill me?”The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who is trying to kill you?”Jesus answered them, “I performed one work, and all of you are astonished… If a man receives circumcision on the sabbath in order that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because I healed a man’s whole body on the sabbath? Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”

Jesus points out the hypocrisy of legalistic religion — those who technically keep the laws but have no mercy or compassion or love for others, the concepts underlying the laws. The charge against Jesus for healing on the Sabbath is a pretext and everyone knows it. The charge they eventually nail him on (oh, bad pun) is claiming to be God, which is a clear violation of Deuteronomy; for those who don’t believe Jesus is God, it is a serious and truthful charge. Such a hard choice — if Jesus is God, you’d better listen up and do as he says; if he’s not God, you’d better not think he is God or you’re an idolator. But how does one know? Jesus says above that if you’re seeking to do the will of God, you’ll know. I guess faith is confidence in what we believe.

The Jews in John

Wherever John was writing the Jews were the enemy. In his account of the Lord’s dealings he used the word Jews referring to the Temple authorities. (The synoptics also dealt harshly with the Temple authorities, but they did not call them Jews.)
They were all Jews. The earliest Christians were about 98% Jews.

But when this book got around to being written, the writer had experienced a lot of trouble with the Jews. He therefore used this term of opprobrium. John got the reputation of being anti-semitic, which it still carries in many circles.

Words always carry more freight in peoples’ minds than the original intent of the author. The writer did not intend to condemn all the Jews since Jesus’ day, but by using the word for the people who fought Jesus and brought about his death, he got credit of it.

Most of the Jews I’ve known are more like (real) Christians than most of the Christians I’ve known.

TheJerusalem Festival / Crystal

The Jews were amazed and said, “How does he know scripture without having studied?”

… some time ago there was an interesting discussion at the writer’s bbs about whether Jesus was illiterate or not. A note about this line in the NAB reads … Children were taught to read and write by means of the scriptures. But here more than Jesus’ literacy is being discussed; the people are wondering how he can teach like a rabbi. Rabbis were trained by other rabbis and traditionally quoted their teachers

Why are you trying to kill me?”
The crowd answered, “You are possessed! Who is trying to kill you?”

… I guess this means they thought Jesus was crazy (possessed by a demon)?

Jesus answered and said to them, “I performed one work (healing the paralytic) and all of you are amazed … are you angry with me because I made a whole person well on a sabbath? Stop judging by appearances, but judge justly”

… this seems to be again about the spirit of the law being more important than the letter of the law. I wonder if they were angry with him not just for breaking the law of not working on the Sabbath but also because he was challenging them … to think outside the rulebook, to be compassionate, to act up for a good cause even if it got you in trouble.

And Jesus Goes to the Party Anyway (John 7:10-24)

But after his brothers had gone to the festival, then he also went, not publicly but as it were in secret. The Jews were looking for him at the festival and saying, “Where is he?” And there was considerable complaining about him among the crowds. While some were saying, “He is a good man,” others were saying, “No, he is deceiving the crowd.” Yet no one would speak openly about him for fear of the Jews.

About the middle of the festival Jesus went up into the temple and began to teach. The Jews were astonished at it, saying, “How does this man have such learning, when he has never been taught?”

Then Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine but his who sent me.

Anyone who resolves to do the will of God will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own. Those who speak on their own seek their own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and there is nothing false in him. “Did not Moses give you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why are you looking for an opportunity to kill me?”

The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who is trying to kill you?”

Jesus answered them, “I performed one work, and all of you are astonished. Moses gave you circumcision (it is, of course, not from Moses, but from the patriarchs), and you circumcise a man on the sabbath. If a man receives circumcision on the sabbath in order that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because I healed a man’s whole body on the sabbath? Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”

– John 7:10-24 (NRSV)