“I just don’t get you.”
Have you ever heard these words? Perhaps they were spoken to you in anger. Perhaps in jest by a good friend. As a northerner in a southern area, I get this routinely – when I crave brats or drink unsweet tea or say the word “bubbler”. But on a more serious note, sometimes we hear these words and it cuts more deep – it’s meaning is more along the lines of “You don’t fit in” or “We are just two different people…or too different.”
If you have ever felt out of place or on the outside of God’s grace, you can take solace in our scripture today, for Jesus himself is out of place.
Today we see Jesus as God’s representative, a common theme in John’s gospel. This goes along with all the I AM statements as well. His authority comes from above, and we see an almost “other worldly” Jesus. Jesus is in the temple at the Festival of Booths, and as someone who has “never been taught” the Jewish leaders are wondering where he gets off speaking with such authority.
Jesus not only gives them advice (“Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”) but also gives them an answer to their questions about authority (“You know me, and you know where I am from. I have not come on my own. But the one who sent me is true, and you do not know him. I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.”)
Like a good mystery novel, in John the readers are always one step ahead of the crowd. Some are struggling with Jesus’ identity, confused because some want to kill him and we all know where he comes from, and the Messiah…well, no one will know where he comes from. But we are one step ahead of the crowd. We know the Messiah will, in fact, come as someone who is not known, and yet is known. We know that “the signs” the crowd speak of are actually playing out before our eyes, and the hidden shroud is one that is before our eyes.
This is the craft of the gospel of John. The whole gospel is built on this idea of logos. The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. Figuring out who or what this logos is is the struggle. So we get series of “I am” statements, and strange musings like “light of the world”. All the time we are struggling to see that light more clearly.
What I like about John’s words is the mystery and conundrum itself. To me it is comforting to know that this is all above and beyond comprehension. God is awesome and his love is unfathomable. God is not supposed to fit in! Oh we get glimpses occasionally…if we are lucky. And it is OK not to get it all right away. Some spend lifetimes trying to get to know God.
This gospel validates me, where I am in my journey. I have just scratched the surface of what all this means for my life. I am a novice. Maybe we all are. But you know what? That’s OK.
After the resurrection, the disciples were confused about what this all meant, and what to do next. So it’s OK if I don’t “get it all”. And God will correct me in the places that I am wrong. And God still loves me all the same.