Wednesday, September 19Scripture Reading—John 7:25-36
The heart of the Christian faith is not a doctrine, institution, creed, book, or event—as important as all of those things are—but a person. All of those other things arise because of the world’s experience with Jesus Christ. The heart of our Christian experience involves our encounter with Jesus. But, it has never been a simple task to decide exactly what to make of Jesus. If the New Testament is anything, it is the record of people trying to understand who Jesus is. And if God truly is present in some unique, unparalleled way in Jesus, then we are challenged to ask ourselves what this means for the way we understand God and , yes, the way we understand ourselves. Jesus stirred controversy in Jerusalem, according to John’s gospel. Some in the crowd sensed that God was doing something new in the world in Jesus. But the crowds also had some preconceived ideas about what they thought the Messiah would look like, how he would enter the world, and what his agenda would be. Jesus didn’t seem to fit neatly into all their stereotypes. “Yet we know where this man is from; but when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from.” (vs. 27) People assumed that the Messiah would be some kind of spiritually superior being whose mode of entry into the world itself would signal his uniqueness. Jesus was born of a human mother in a manger. In short, Jesus exclaimed in the temple, that the people didn’t understand him or his mission because they really didn’t understand God’s ways or Jesus’ unique relationship with God. Some were ready to kill him. Others were convinced that they’d seen enough already to know that the redeemer of Israel and the world had come. If you and I do believe God has come to the world in the person of Jesus, then we are faced with the question of what difference it makes for us, and what difference it makes in the way we order our lives. We may all hear God’s call to us through Jesus in different ways. Some of us hear an invitation to reach out to God and receive forgiveness of sin. Some of us hear an offer of unconditional acceptance and mercy. Some of us hear a call to deny ourselves and serve others. Some of us hear a call to radically change the direction of our lives so that we encounter God among the people Jesus seemed most at home with—the poor, the sick, the broken, the outcast.
And our encounter with Jesus may mean different things to us at different times in our lives. But one thing is for sure, if we take Jesus seriously, we’re never freed from wrestling with the question he continually poses to us, “Who do you say that I am?”