St John 7: 1 – 13
After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He did not wish to go about in Judea because the Jews were looking for an opportunity to kill him. Now the Jewish festival of Booths was near. So his brothers said to him, ‘Leave here and go to Judea so that your disciples also may see the works you are doing; for no one who wants to be widely known acts in secret. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.’ (For not even his brothers believed in him.) Jesus said to them, ‘My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify against it that its works are evil. Go to the festival yourselves. I am not going to this festival, for my time has not yet fully come.’ After saying this, he remained in Galilee. But after his brothers had gone to the festival, then he also went, not publicly but as it were in secret. The Jews were looking for him at the festival and saying, ‘Where is he?’ And there was considerable complaining about him among the crowds. While some were saying, ‘He is a good man’, others were saying, ‘No, he is deceiving the crowd.’ Yet no one would speak openly about him for fear of the Jews.
John’s story-telling is detailed and extraordinary and he has a fascinating narrative going on here! Not that long after demonstrating his divinity with an amazing mass-feeding miracle, followed by walking on water, Jesus is once again surrounded by many folk, inexplicably demanding yet more signs.
I love the way that Jesus responds instead by going to this festival incognito. He wanders around, listening to what folk are saying about him, taking in what they say before later responding?
In truth that is the way I tend to use Twitter – following a number of folks, some of whom I admire and others I profoundly disagree with, rarely posting or responding to others’ Tweets, but getting a feel for what is being said?
People raise issues, often in short and often in rather reactionary, even angry, ways and some responses are in equally combative style. Sometimes somebody responds rationally and painstakingly in a thoughtful, analytical way – often prompting the original Tweeter to answer back in a short (and often rude!) way, dismissing the responder with extreme scepticism, often using labels, and abuse.
I (unusually) responded to a Tweet in, I thought just, such a gentle and reasonable way to something someone had posted recently and was promptly blocked. I was, though, secretly rather pleased that, even though I could no longer follow the conversation, several others ‘liked’ my comment and that was displayed on my thread!
I wonder, then if Jesus’ undercover festival visit is a bit like that? Having trailed around for a while he has the courage to raise his head above the parapet and respond? As they demonstrate how humanity’s ways haven’t changed significantly over the ages, he, too, demonstrates his true humanity as he teaches and shares of, what else, but his divinity? As with Twitter, some get it … some don’t?
“Give to me, Lord, a thankful heart
and a discerning mind:
give, as I play the Christian’s part,
the strength to finish what I start
and act on what I find.”
(Caryl Micklem (1925-2002)
© C. Micklem Rejoice & Sing 497)