Over the past several weeks I have been re-studying the Gospel of John. Of the many things that recapture my heart with this my second favorite Gospel, I am reminded why Jesus keeps being so elusive. Specifically the times in the Gospel when Jesus says some variation of 'it is not my time yet."
So when is Jesus' time?
- Wedding at Cana (Chapter 2), Nope.
- How about when Jesus fed 5000 (Chapter 6), nope.
- The festival of Booths (Chapter 7), nope.
I could go on and on, because the gospel of John if full of these instances, however the point is made. The formula in the gospel of John that ensures that it is Jesus' time is three fold. Only when these three elements are present do you know that it is Jesus' time. Take a moment and see if you can figure it out yourself - what elements are needed in order for Jesus to no longer be elusive?
- Jesus' presence
- A festival
- A unified mob
There are times when Jesus is present and there is a festival but no unified crowd (Ch. 2, wedding, Jesus, no unified crowd).
There are times when Jesus is present and there is a unified mob but no festival (Ch. 8, Jesus, unified crowd against woman caught in adultery, no festival).
There are times where there is a festival and a unified mob but no Jesus (Ch. 9, Sabbath, unified mob, no Jesus).
Why do you think that these three elements are needed in order for it to then be the right "time?" I would submit that it is at the intersection of these three elements that Jesus is trying to teach us something about the nature of his death. The death of Jesus is not a transaction between humans and God (God is mad, Jesus is sacrificed, God's wrath is held back). The death of Jesus points us to the demonic nature of what happens when a unified mob acts in sacred violence we tend to kill the innocent.
If we believe that our cause is so righteous and correct, if we whip others into a frenzy and demand uniformity masquerading as unity, if we have innocent people we will end up crucifying the Christ once more.
Be cautious of anytime we find ourselves with a "righteous cause" (religious leaders of Jesus' day had a "righteous cause"). Be cautious of anytime we find ourselves placing a higher degree of holiness and purity over mercy and love (remember Jesus said, I desire mercy not sacrifice). Be cautious anytime we are willing call others unorthodox or identify ourselves with being "the majority" (Jesus was counted unorthodox and it was the perceived majority crowd that killed Jesus).
If we are taking about an election or a denomination, we may need to take another look at the intersection of the mob, the innocent and celebrations. Jesus sought out that intersection to teach us something, may we have ears to hear that lesson.