Christ is risen!
He was wondering why I was looking at him in such an intense way. He had just said something that I completely misunderstood, and, if he meant what I thought he meant, well, let’s just say we may need to step outside!
Once he realized I misunderstood him, his confusion turned to panic and he immediately started to explain himself. Whew! That was close.
But that’s the way of communication. It’s difficult to do it well, especially when all of us bring our own unique experiences and understandings to each communication event. It’s a wonder we ever communicate at all. And, yet, we do!
Look at our lesson today in John 7:14-30:
About the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and taught. The Jews marveled at it saying, “How is it that this man has learning, when he has never studied?” So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me; if any man’s will is to do his will, he shall know whether the teacher is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. He who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but he who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is not falsehood. Did not Moses give you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why do you seek to kill me?” The people answered, “You have a demon! Who is seeking to kill you?” Jesus answered them, “I did one deed, and you all marvel at it. Moses gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man upon the sabbath. If on the sabbath a man receives circumcision, so that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because on the sabbath I made a man’s whole body well? Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”
Some of the people of Jerusalem therefore said, “Is not this the man whom they seek to kill? And here he is, speaking openly, and they say nothing to him! Can it be that the authorities really know that this is the Christ? Yet we know where this man comes from; and when the Christ appears, no one will know where he comes from.” So Jesus proclaimed, as he taught in the temple, “You know me, and you know where I come from? But I have not come of my own accord; he who sent me is true, and him you do not know. I know him, for I come from him, and he sent me.” So they sought to arrest him; but no one laid hands on him, because his hour had not yet come.
The leaders of the Lord’s day were really missing the point. They were distracted because Jesus doesn’t have the “right” credentials in their opinion. He didn’t speak in a way that left all kinds of wiggle room for “interpretation” like the religious speakers of his day. They never seemed to speak with such authority as Jesus spoke. And they were offended by His plain talk. Plus, He insisted that He wasn’t making any of this up, but was simply saying what the Father told Him to say!
Even many in the crowd misunderstood Him and said that He had a demon! Talk about missing the point!
And the consequences of not getting what Jesus was saying were, and are, extremely important. Misunderstand me and all it will cost you is some momentary confusion. Misunderstand God in the Flesh, and, well, there may be hell to pay! But this is true for us today as well. The whole purpose of the liturgical life of the Church, the lives of the Saints, and the disciplines of the Faith, are all meant to hone your spiritual insight so that you won’t misunderstand what God is saying!
The key to understanding the words of Jesus is to know that He is speaking the words the Father told Him to speak. This means we will misunderstand if we don’t pay attention if we ignore the need for humility if we dismiss the importance of working together with all who came before us so that we understand Jesus!
Today, are you suffering with misunderstanding? Can you grasp what Jesus is trying to tell you? You will misunderstand if you only depend on yourself. Embrace the wisdom of the Church and hear clearly what Jesus is saying by being Orthodox on Purpose!
P.S. Dear Lord, I struggle to “get” what You are saying to me. I fail to understand because I fail to embrace all the wisdom You’ve preserved in Your Church to “reorient” my thinking in a way that I can understand You. You provide everything for me to learn humility, patience, trust, and insight so that I will embrace Your wisdom in my life. Grant me, O Lord, the grace to always assume You know best and to humbly embrace Your will for my life. Amen