Saturday, October 21, 2006

The Gospel of John

Did you notice how much the topic of truth came up in the gospel reading this week?

Chapter 16 talked about the Spirit of truth, getting in trouble because of the truth

Chapter 17 Jesus prayed that the truth might be made known

Chapter 18 Jesus declares to Pilate that whoever knows truth knows Him - to which Pilate famously replies, "What is truth?"

When you think about Jesus' murder from a human perspective, it was his truth-telling that got him killed. From a religious perspective they labeled him a blasphemer. From a political perspective they labeled him an insurrectionist. If you are a religious leader with political power, Jesus is a huge threat. Jesus is more popular with the crowds then the religious leaders in power, and thus Jesus could undermine the influence and prestige of these leaders. The religious leaders murdered Jesus more so for their own positional security then for blasphemy (that was their key word for smoke-screening their real motives). Jesus' actions and words exposed the motives of the leaders, he was such a contrast and elicited such a hateful response from them.

So that is an overgeneralized overview of why the religious leaders with political power wanted Jesus assasinated (funny how assasination is still a popular form of silencing opposing voices...); but why did the crowds clamour for his death?

Maybe it was disillusionment. Maybe it was because they couldn't handle the truth? Or, what I think is more likely...they didn't like the reality Jesus was offering, so they silenced his voice. They wanted Jesus to say what they wanted him to say. And the only way to stop Jesus was to terminate him.

The Jesus of John 16-18 is a fascinating character. His final speech in chapter 16 just doesn't have the same ring as William Wallace at Sterling, of Aragorn at Helm's Deep. His speech actually leaves his disciples confused and more worried then when he started the speech, and then when they do think they understand him and declare some kind of tentative confidence, Jesus admonishes them and then tries to comfort them. I'm not sure Jesus the Good Shepherd means that he was cuddly and patted people on the head when they got a right answer. I think Jesus was hard to take sometimes, he just didn't seem to know how to say the right thing at the right time, not what you'd expect. Take his speech to Pilate, no wonder Pilate said what he said, he probably didn't understand what Jesus was saying.

Chapter 17 is called Jesus' Priestly Prayer - it is the longest prayer of Jesus recorded in Scripture. Just as the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6 is often described as a pattern of prayer, the same could be said of this prayer - except it's alot longer. Maybe this was the pattern of prayer Jesus used when he would get alone in the mountainsides. Beautiful prayer.

So, don't put Jesus in a box.

Jesus will usually act contrary to popular opinion and wishes.

Jesus gets along with children just fine, but he gets under the skin of religious adults.

Jesus only speaks the truth and always has greater power then the people he is around, which means others get jealous of him and resent him.

Jesus sees right through you - there is no posing, no ulterior motives, no masks, no faked naivety, no false pretensions...he sees it and usually calls you out on it.

If you pursue truth, you'll find Jesus. If you find Jesus, you'll find truth. This is a hard road to take. Narrow, I believe he called it. Not many people really want to know the truth - they just want the world to make sense, and often times the truth of something is too hard to work into the preconceived ideas people hold in their heads about this life.

But the truth will set you free, especially if it is truth grounded in Jesus. (This is not a religious statement, it is philosophical).

In the words of Jesus, "I give them a mission in the world. I'm consecrating myself for their sakes. So they'll be truth-consecrated in their mission." (John 17, The Message).

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