Why is … just became a little clearer

Still in John, still in chapter 8 – still squeezing the juice. There is a lot of juice in John!

Yesterday I found that by taking out the content of this conversation and leaving only the “he said I said you said …” the years between the bible people and me dissolved. Made reading the bible so much more “now”. Me the same as “them” – no them and us anymore.

Yet put it all back together and the chapter remains as complex to me as ever. This “Who are you – I Am – Oh no you’re not – Oh yes I Am – oh no you’re not …” conversation taking on a kind of pantomime style.

So this morning I left just the spoken words. For Jesus is a very different Jesus in this chapter, in John, than elsewhere. And I find I am struggling a little. Questioning a little – joining the “them” a little each time I submerge myself.

So as well as leaving just the spoken words, I tried removing the helpful punctuation as well. Just because.

And had another “wow” moment just as yesterday. See what you think of this extract:

very truly i tell you everyone who sins is a slave to sin now a slave has no permanent place in the family but a son belongs to it forever so if the son sets you free you will be free indeed i know that you are abrahams descendants yet you are looking for a way to kill me because you have no room for my word i am telling you what i have seen in the fathers presence and you are doing what you have heard from your father if you were abrahams children then you would do what abraham did as it is you are looking for a way to kill me a man who has told you the truth that i heard from god abraham did not do such things you are doing the works of your own father if god were your father you would love me for i have come here from god i have not come on my own god sent me why is my language not clear to you because you are unable to hear what i say you belong to your father the devil and you want to carry out your fathers desires he was a murderer from the beginning not holding to the truth for there is no truth in him when he lies he speaks his native language for he is a liar and the father of lies yet because i tell the truth you do not believe me can any of you prove me guilty of sin if i am telling the truth why dont you believe me whoever belongs to god hears what god says the reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to god

For me this became a speech. A spoken living thing. One in which I heard His voice. One in which I found myself adding tone, pace, rhythm, invisible punctuation – the stuff we do automatically when listening rather than reading.

And – weirdly – I found myself thinking how simple this was. How easy to listen and be part of them – and yet not part of them. Hearing the words clearly for the first time. Not accusing or defensive as they seem when read. Not repetitive and circling as they do with the inclusion of “then they replied”. Simple. Loving. Gentle. Teaching. Yearning. Yearning for us to “get it.” To get the simplicity of Jesus and God. De-complicating things. Seeing the truth. Feeling the love.

And I remember a phrase I once saw about sermons: that they were intended to be heard rather than read (this in the introduction to a volume of published sermons). And this morning I found myself listening rather than reading. Hearing rather than struggling. Being rather than intellectualising. Closer rather than distant.

And this morning – once again – I find the years between the bible people and me washed away. Once again I am simply in that crowd listening, seeing, hearing. Hearing more clearly my god as Jesus.

“Why is my language not clear to you?” just became a little clearer.


13 thoughts on “Why is … just became a little clearer

  1. The Simplicity of Jesus. What a wonderful phrase. He didn’t intend to complicate things. We mucked it all up, but what a new way to see. Finding ways to melt the years…. I look at that paragraph initially as a jumbled mess, but then I get it upon further glance.
    Thanks for the exercise.

    • Thanks Mark. Feels like being grounded (on these chapters) the past week or so. The last time this happened it was one phrase he posed. This time is proving as challenging. And as rewarding.

  2. Paul, it is so simple when the Spirit of God does the teaching. I’m so thankful that He is a great and kind instructor to His people. And He is also so patient when the same subject has to be rest aught over and over isn’t He? Great thought you’ve presented. Thank you!!!!

    • Levi, thank you. A great instructor indeed. He seems to tease different ways of seeing the same thing from each of us. Building each other up a great consequence of that!

  3. Great illustration Paul! Isn’t it amazing how clear things get when we see these words as a Person instead of a subject or a mere academic discipline!

    Great job Paul!!

  4. This is absolutely wonderful, Paul. Tears welled in my eyes as I got to this question: “Why don’t you believe me?”

    I imagine Jesus pausing here, letting His question sink in, allowing them a moment to reflect on all they had heard and seen. Forcing them to think about the “why” of their unbelief, and the very personal decision they were making about Jesus.

    Then, Jesus gave them an answer in the simply masterful way only He can: You don’t belong.


    You don’t believe Me, because you don’t belong.

    Believe. Belong.

    I never saw the symbiosis of these words until today. I hear Him, because I belong to Him. I belong to Him, because I believe in Him. I believe Him, because I hear Him.

    I am gobsmacked, as Little Monk would say. Truly and utterly gobsmacked. Thank you, Paul, for always feeding me the fruit of your faith.

    • Heather, as always I read the depth of your out flowing and am humbled. “gobsmacked” the perfect word at this end as well. 🙂

      You drew me back to his words and that phrase: “whoever belongs to god hears what god says”. Simples!! Always simples!!

      And “believe belong” … Like a gong bing bong … Rhythm and resonance. Deep inside. You’ve done it again. Thank you

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