30 September 2013

Encountering Jesus ~ Incognito

Do you ever read a passage of Scripture you know you've read many, many times before - but all of a sudden, you notice things you'd never noticed, read things you've never really read, asked questions you'd never thought to ask, and seen connections you'd never seen before?

That was what happened when I read... and studied... these first 14 verses of John 7 over the course of this past week. 

After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill him. But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” For even his own brothers did not believe in him. 
Therefore Jesus told them, “My time is not yet here; for you any time will do. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that its works are evil. You go to the festival. I am not going up to this festival, because my time has not yet fully come.” 
After he had said this, he stayed in Galilee. 
However, after his brothers had left for the festival, he went also, not publicly, but in secret. Now at the festival the Jewish leaders were watching for Jesus and asking, “Where is he?” 
Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, “He is a good man.” 
Others replied, “No, he deceives the people.” But no one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the leaders. (John 7:1-14)
At the end of the last chapter, Jesus must have been a bit discouraged - humanly speaking. People were murmuring about Him, Jewish leaders were complaining, people just didn't seem to be getting what He was teaching, many of His disciples had walked off, Peter couldn't didn't reassure Him that the twelve who remained weren't also tempted to leave ... and Jesus also clearly knew that one of those twelve would become His betrayer. 

Then this chapter opens with Jesus traversing around in Galilee. He chose to remain there rather than return to Judea (at that time) and face certain confrontation with leaders among the Jews... the same ones who were making plans to kill this man claiming to be the Bread of Life. The ATS Bible Dictionary[1] says the following about Galilee and Galileans: 
[They] were accounted brave and industrious; though other Jews affected to consider them as not only stupid and unpolished, but also seditious, and therefore proper objects of contempt (Luke 13:1, 23:6, John 1:47, 7:52). They appear to have used a peculiar dialect, by which they were easily distinguished from the Jews of Jerusalem  (Mark 14:70). Many of the apostles and first converts to Christianity were men of Galilee (Acts 1:11, 2:7), as well as Christ himself; and the name Galilean was often given as an insult, both to him and his followers.
For the Jews who thought they were someone or were going places, Galilee was not the place to be. Yet at this time, it was Jesus' choice. That's a good reminder to me that sometimes the best place according to my human wise-ness (or lack thereof - especially if my reasoning has to do with ladder climbing or other similar behavior) will not necessarily match up with the place God thinks I should be. One of my blogging friends - her husband frequents brothels as an investigator, hoping to identify and to help trafficked children... not generally the kind of place to hang out when you are wanting to win friends, influence people - after all, what if the wrong person saw him. Yet that can also be exactly the place to be if your desire is finding people desperately needing and hoping for rescue. Jesus made a habit of hanging out with people who only damaged His worldly reputation - maybe I need to be spending more time with people who are uncomfortable for me, who come from different worlds, who challenge my perceptions of quality friendships... We all must feel like that to Jesus.

As I wrote above - if I'd been standing in Jesus' shoes, I think I would have been battling discouragement at this moment in time. Then, adding insult to injury, his own family turns on Him. I wonder if He was talking with His siblings, sharing pieces of the journey on which He was embarking and they just got tired of hearing about it. I wonder if they were fed up with being the brother of that dude everyone else wanted to meet because he was always doing the miracles... and they were sick of it... and jealous... and thought He was genuinely too good to be true and the uppity older brother... and each time they heard another story, wanted nothing more than to grind their teeth or spit.

I mean - what's to say I wouldn't have said the same... done the same... It is a lot easier for me to look back and sit in judgement on Jesus' family from my vantage point. What will people see in my life some day as they look back. Will I be known for all the times I didn't believe? Didn't respect? Tried to convince Him of a better, different plan? Tried to manipulate Him? ...that list could probably go on and on

So His family leaves for the feast. Jesus stays. His reasoning? His time had not fully come.

Then sometime in that seven days, either His time did come or something changed because He left incognito for the feast. And I wonder about His family then - did they end up thinking He's was just a bit flighty and inconsistent? Were they mad? Did they feel like He told them one thing and then turned around and did something totally different? And I think back to all the times I've wondered and asked myself those same sorts of questions of the Lord. 

As He wanders about, He hears the Jews searching for Him - secretly trying to gather information. He hears others whispering that they believed the best about Him - some who chose to see beyond what made sense to the things that only the Holy Spirit could open their eyes to see. He also heard others who despised Him.

And no one would say more than a secretive whisper because everyone feared what the Jewish leaders might do - to gather information from someone suspected of knowing His locale... to stop the growing interest and growing movement away from the powerful, controlling legalism of the Jewish leaders.

So many questions - and perhaps the biggest ones of all:

With whom do I most identify in this story...??? And why?

[1] American Tract Society Bible Dictionary

this week's gratitude list
(#'s 4227 - 4252)

good news from a friend

learning a new song with my girlies

hearing that family from out west will be here for Thanksgiving

hearing the dr say that the swollen gland in her neck that has been there swollen since 2009 does not appear to be a cause for concern

4-birthday girl birthday party at the park on a too beautiful to believe September afternoon

that no one was stung by all the yellow jackets hanging around to enjoy the party as well ('specially since Rebekah Joy forgot her epi-pen)

bright red leaves

bright orange leaves

golden orange-y yellow leaves

brilliant green evergreens interspersed among those other colors

falling leaves


many birthday wishes

unexpected gifts

a dozen red roses

a Winnie-the-Pooh card that makes me smile each time I look at it

a "sniffy" card that makes me laugh when I see it

almost an entire night of uninterrupted sleep

3 day week coming up

finding out about an upcoming special event at a Detroit church

"Torrents d'amour et de grâce, amour du Sauver en croix..."

sleeping in while the rain patters and pitters on a Sunday morning

successfully making doughnuts here in the States - using the despised by me electric range

the season premier to THE MENTALIST - and we didn't have a church meeting so I was able to be home to watch it... yay!!!

birthday convo with my boy

...who will be home in 1.5 weeks now... yay!!! double yay!!!

Ten most recent posts in this series: 

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