Sunday, August 30, 2015

I'm Not Who You Think I Am

-Empire Records, the movie.

John 14:9, “Jesus said to him, 'Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me?'...”

This is a small verse sandwiched in the middle of a rather lengthy discussion between Jesus and His disciples where He is giving encouragement and discusses upcoming changes but does so in hidden terms. His disciples, not catching on to the hidden terminology, are asking questions and so there is some back and forth.

Two particular statements are rather startling, Jesus is leaving and He is offering encouragement about what He will be doing so that they all understand that there's a plan behind all this.

“I go to prepare a place...”-vs. 2-3 and “in my Father's house are many dwelling places”, so Jesus is going to go back into the carpentry business that He learned (but with better tools) and maybe Joseph, his adopted dad, will help him out since he taught him the trade. Jesus is going to build some new apartment complexes and spiral staircases and other cool things in “His Father's house”. So He's going to be busy for awhile.

Thomas is confused, however, about all this talk and asks Jesus specifically where He is going, so they can continue to follow Him, Thomas is not ready for any transitions, changes or anything different. He wants things to stay the same and He is unsure what all this means…

The first startling statement is Jesus' response, which is both confusing and reassuring, here's the conversation from vs. 5 summarized…

vs. 5, Thomas: “Lord, we don't know where you are going, how can we know the way?”
vs. 6, Jesus: “Thomas, I am the Way”…

What a brilliant yet enigmatic response.

Jesus has given him the answer and he has given us the answer...when we get lost, when we have difficult questions with no easy answers. When quoting a Bible verse doesn't help, when our medicine cabinet has no options for us and we can't afford or understand yoga we can be sure that Jesus' answer is still true….I am the way.

But even more true than this is Jesus' rebuke to Thomas because it is a rebuke to us as well, it is the second startling statement:

“Have I been with you all this time...and you still do not know me?”

You can insert that response into a lot of complaints you have, concerns, issues, hot button issues that are sensitive and difficult to answer...insert this statement and drive on from there.

But that's not an answer you might say...ah...but it is and often times, complex questions, difficult issues, cannot be answered with a yes or no, a quote or a simple step by step procedure. It is often a nuanced, purposefully vague, answer that will make you think….how does this fit? That's the answer you are looking for.

John 14:31b, “...Rise, let us be on our way”  

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