Sunday

21 April 2013

“So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, ‘How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.’ Jesus answered, ‘I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me; but you do not believe…” (vv. 24-26)


Background

The Feast of Dedication was an eight-day festival during which Jewish families lit up their houses and synagogues to commemorate the re-consecration of the temple in Jerusalem in 165BC. Light and dark are classic themes for John's Gospel and here it links the festival to an occasion when people failed to see the truth about Jesus.

The picture this passage conjures up is of Jesus taking a stroll and being mobbed by a group desperate to ask him the one thing on their minds: when are you going to stop messing about and make it clear that you are Messiah.

Jesus answer was that his whole life and ministry were making it clear: "the works that I do in my Father's name testify to me". Clearly that wasn't enough. What more did the group need to be convinced?

Of course, they wanted the first-century equivalent of a press conference: an EVENT where Jesus stood up and said that he absolutely was - without any question, prevarication or spin - the Son of God, the Messiah. And he'd pose for photos too.

But the frustrating thing about Jesus in the Gospels is that he never does that. His ministry is captured in lyrics from Bruce Cockburn:

"But nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight -
got to kick at the darkness 'til it bleeds daylight."

We can be quick to criticise Jesus' interrogators because the story intends us to realise they are still blind to the light, but the reality is that we are so much like them. A Jesus who shouts about his status is much more suited to today's media-focused world, but a Jesus who kicks the darkness is more difficult because to follow him people have to do the same and often that's not in the comfort zone.


To Ponder

  • Where are the places that you can "kick the darkness 'til it bleeds daylight"?
  • What question would you ask Jesus if you met him walking down the street?


Bible notes author: The Revd Gareth Hill

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