After yesterday’s sublime writing in the dust, today it is still with John, still Chapter 8, still the conversations in the Temple, still the to and fro, still the confusion, still the testing, still the faith thing.
And as I was reading today’s passage – I always read Jesus’ words with the benefit of hindsight went through my mind. These words pored over two thousand years later … they can never be read “as they happened.” Always I/we bring not only ourselves, we also bring that accumulated wisdom of two thousand years with us when we read, debate, judge, glean, believe (or not). We can do nothing else. It must be thus.
So I travelled further than the prescribed verses today. And read most of chapter eight this way today …
“They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father.
So Jesus said ….
Even as he spoke, many believed in him.
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said ….
They answered him ….
Jesus replied ….
….. they answered.
…. said Jesus ….
…. they protested ….
Jesus said to them ….
The Jews answered him ….
…. said Jesus ….
At this they exclaimed ….
Jesus replied ….
…. they said to him ….
…. Jesus answered ….
At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.”
And taking out the words spoken, leaving the connecting phrases … two thousand years dropped away and was no more. The construction of this conversation much more familiar to me. Much more “now”. Much more what I do each day: I said, he said, so I said, then they said, then she replied, and I thought, but they …
And maybe we pick up stones a little less often nowadays. We just seem to have replaced them with words. Insults, put-downs, tantrums … or the silence of disapproval … or the passive smile with its twin “the nod of agreement” (not!!!).
The confusion of the Jews, the Gentiles, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Judeans, the Galileans, the Egyptians, the Romans, the rulers, the temple guys, the great unwashed … they came with their own two thousand years of wisdom and hindsight. They knew how things were, how things are and how they would be.
Their hindsight was not of Jesus. Theirs was of tradition, teaching, the political climate, the climate of boundaries and rules and domination … of power and force … of unfairness and poverty … of expectation and entitlement.
And once again that sounds so “now” in the world I see and inhabit. Global commerce, the force of military might, countries occupied, countries in turmoil, financial meltdowns, foodbanks, religious fervour and fanatics. Much more the now with which we have become familiar. A “now” we breathe and are when we look inside the bible today – and ponder, and hope, and pray, and expect. A “now” we take to conversations about the failings of “church” … of God himself … of each other.
And sitting here writing and thinking and listening … those two thousand years between me and the bible is not hindsight. It is the same blindness as afflicted all the bible people … all those “us“ who listened to Jesus in the temple … in the dusty valleys and green places …
They were blind to Jesus then, as we are blind to Jesus now. Not all. Not everyone. Many. We still have the same fracture lines, the same questions, the same habit of rejecting what is so simple. So compelling. And so free.
And Jesus is still here. Still walking amongst us. Still partaking of the He said, they said, He replied, they objected, He …. Still conversing through these words written so many many years ago. Still with me this morning. Still the same. Always the same. Always waiting to be invited. Never insisting. Never forcing. Never demanding. Always Love. Always that same eternal Love.
A Love so all-consuming there are still no worry-lines on God’s brow, still no grey hairs of stress, still engaging, always ready, never too busy.
And if that is true (as I believe it to be), then maybe we can find it in ourselves to see that the bible is also “now” – a mirror reflecting back the same now as then. To put down our “wisdom” and hindsight. To shake off the scales of our own blindness. And see how utterly simple God has made things for us. That Love is utterly simple. Utterly compelling. And utterly consuming.
No wonder Jesus used children as an example. Childlike simplicity.
I am of I Am.