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.