Lenten Daily Gospel Reflection - 7 March 2013
Jesus continued, “I’m going away. You will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I’m going, you can’t come.”
The Jewish leaders said, “He isn’t going to kill himself, is he? Is that why he said, ‘Where I’m going, you can’t come’?”
He said to them, “You are from below; I’m from above. You are from this world; I’m not from this world. This is why I told you that you would die in your sins. If you don’t believe that I Am, you will die in your sins.”
“Who are you?” they asked.
Jesus replied, “I’m exactly who I have claimed to be from the beginning. I have many things to say in judgment concerning you. The one who sent me is true, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.” They didn’t know he was speaking about his Father. So Jesus said to them, “When the Human One is lifted up, then you will know that I Am. Then you will know that I do nothing on my own, but I say just what the Father has taught me. He who sent me is with me. He doesn’t leave me by myself, because I always do what makes him happy.” While Jesus was saying these things, many people came to believe in him.
Jesus said to the Jews who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teaching. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
“I’m not from this world.” When people hear this, they think that Jesus was only talking about “being from heaven.” This has led some people to think that Jesus wasn’t human; that he was only (mystically) G_d. But I don’t think that’s what he’s talking about here, not entirely anyway.
All throughout his ministry, Jesus was announcing and actively bringing in G_d’s Realm “on earth as it is in heaven.” He said, from the beginning of his ministry, that, “Now is the time! Here comes God’s kingdom!” So, when he talks about not being “from this world,” we need to see that as it relates to ushering in G_d’s Realm. That is, his worldview, his way of being, doesn’t follow the ways of the establishment or the people.
As we saw yesterday, generally (and I really hate to make generalities) the people of Jesus’ time fell into two different categories - violent revolution or collude with Rome. Some may have even been in both groups, i.e., whichever one helped them personally the most. Jesus’ statements about not being “from this world” is directed to those ways of thinking. The world he’s from, G_d’s Realm, doesn’t fit into either one of those categories.
Furthermore, and this is truly the key point, while Jesus wasn’t “from this world” in that sense, his way of being is “for this world.” That was his mission - to bring G_d’s Realm here. To manifest it. To expand it. But it doesn’t follow the patterns of “this world.” It sees all people as equals; as images of G_d. It sees forgiveness, mercy, and love as the way forward.
I find it intriguing that no one asked Jesus what he meant by, “I’m going away. You’ll look for me, and you’ll die in your sin.” They wonder what he meant by not being able to find him. The fact that they would die in their sin doesn’t even seem to phase them. To me, that’s the part that sticks out. I would be like, “Wait...what? Why would I die in my sin if you leave? What’s going on?” But notice what they ask:
“Who are you?”
In other words, “Who do you think you are?” If Jesus is healing people and forgiving their sins “in the world,” then they Religious Elite are no longer needed. Their time is up! It was through them that forgiveness was granted. But if Jesus is doing that publicly...well, they aren’t needed any longer.
This ties right into “belief.” The question on the table is, do they believe his mission and message? Do they believe that G_d’s promised Realm is actually coming into their world’s realm and that it’s coming through Jesus?
If so, then, as we’ve seen before, their belief must be lived. It must be expressed in faithful action. And, when that is done, freedom comes. Freedom for themselves and the world around them becomes more of G_d’s Realm.
And this applies even to us today. Belief (and repentance) means that we acknowledge that The Way of Jesus is the better way, the best way, of being human. In fact, it’s the only way to be and still be called human.
In the Love of the Three in One,
Br. Jack+, LC