Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Nazarene from Bethlehem

     While reading through the passages in John chapter 7 where the people question how the Messiah could come from Galilee, and not from Bethlehem as the Prophets said he would, a thought struck me - why did Jesus not clarify the whole question by telling the people plainly the story of his birth? Was it because they wouldn't believe him? That very well could be the reason. We know from the Gospels that the Disciples knew the story, but whether Jesus himself told them, or whether it was Mary, His Mother, after the Son's Ascent, is a mystery. My own guess would be that Mary told them, since the narratives in the Gospels are very much from her perspective. But the question still stands: Why did Jesus let a great number of the people's unbelief continue, when the simple understanding that he was actually born in Bethlehem might have been enough to clear their minds, and cause some of them to believe? 

     I pondered the question after I read this -

     John 7:25-27 - Meanwhile some of the people of Jerusalem were saying, "Isn't this the man they want to kill? And here he is, speaking freely, and they have nothing to say to him! Can it be true that the authorities have made up their minds that he is the Christ? Yet we all know where he comes from, but when the Christ appears no one will know where he comes from."

But, as I read on, the matter began to clarify. 

John 7:28-29 - Then, as Jesus taught in the Temple, he cried out: "Yes, you know me and you know where I came from. Yet I have not come of myself: no, there is one who sent me and I really come from him, and you do not know him, but I know him because I have come from him and it was he who sent me."
It's amazing how some of the most mind-boggling questions that Jesus posed had answers that made complete sense, but were totally surprising. In the answer to the question concerning his birthplace, Jesus doesn't say, "Oh no, you've got it all wrong. I was actually conceived of the Holy Spirit, and born of a virgin in a stable in the town of Bethlehem! You see, it all makes sense when you know the facts." Instead he replies by revealing that the Prophet was not speaking of his birthplace or town when he said that no one would know where the Messiah came from, but of where he came from, namely, the Father - making it clear that they didn't know the Father anymore than they knew the story of his birth.
Over and over again in the Scriptures you find questions that have answers like this. The people didn't have enough faith to simply believe that even though they didn't know the ins and outs of the answers to the questions, they would trust that God knew, and that he would reveal it in his good time. This thought first came to me when I was reading the passage where Jesus states that unless we eat his flesh and drink his blood we have no life in us. A great many of his disciples left him when he said that because they didn't have enough faith to trust that Jesus wasn't telling them that to have eternal life they must become cannibals, but that there was an entire mysterious spiritual meaning behind his words, which he would reveal to them in time. The Twelve stayed because they did have that faith. (I should probably say the Eleven, since Judas most likely stayed just because he had his hands in the money bag.)
     I think that is why Jesus didn't clarify some of his most confusing statements to the people. He wanted the type of follower that would look beyond the confusion that some of his words would create, to the knowledge they had of him, and to the trust and love that his deeds and words had built in their souls. 



1 comment:

Brigitte said...

Very insightful Gretchen. It is really amazing the wisdom God has blessed you with. Keep shining for Jesus!