the real thing | John 6.66-71
After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know that you are the Holy One of God.” Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the Twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the Twelve, was going to betray him. John 6.66-71 | ESV
And that was it for many of Jesus’ now former followers. They’d had enough, left his path and headed off to hope for greener pastures. Seeing his numbers melt away, Jesus turned to the twelve and asked them straight out, “You’re not throwing in the towel too, are you?”
Simon, the trusty Rock, was the first to blurt out a response: “Are you kidding, Lord? Just where else is there for us to go? Words of deep, expanding, unstoppable life is what you have for us – and we have staked our all on it, on you – and we know without a doubt that you are the Unrivaled, Chosen, Holy One of God!”
To which Jesus replied, “I chose well when I chose you twelve – but even one of you is the Devil himself!”
And while they all stood their scratching their heads at that, here’s a newsflash for you: he was talking about Judas Iscariot (“man about town”), Simon’s boy. He was the one who would do the deed, who would betray him. That’s right. One of the Jesus hand-picked twelve. MAV (Mike’s Amplified Version)
The sky was so gorgeous that I rolled down all my windows and leaned forward to try to see more of it out of my windshield. A trucker next to me winded and eyed my tattooed arms – unaware, I’m certain, that the big tattoo covering my forearm was of Saint Mary Magdalene and that I was a Lutheran seminary student, soon to become a Lutheran pastor. Truckers, bikers, and ex-convicts smile at me a lot more than, say, investment bankers do. I smiled back, and then returned my glance to the blue sky above, becoming lost in the thought of the outrageous out-there-ness of space. The beauty of our sky is really just a nice way for the earth to protect us from the terror of what’s so vast and unknowable beyond. The boundlessness of the universe is disturbing when you think about it. It’s too big and we’re too small. Suddenly, in that moment, all I could think was: What am I doing? Seminary? Seriously? With a universe this vast and unknowable, what are the odds that this story of Jesus is true? Come on, Nadia. It’s just a fairy tale. And in the very next moment I thought this: Except that throughout my life, I’ve experienced it to be true. I once heard someone say that my belief in Jesus makes them suspect that I intellectually suck my thumb at night. But I cannot pretend, as much as I sometimes would like to, that I have not throughout my life experienced the redeeming, destabilizing love of a surprising God. Even when my mind protests, I still can’t deny my experiences. This thing is real to me. ~ Nadia Bolz-Weber from Pastrix (expletives deleted; hope that’s okay, Nadia)
If you were to pick up a copy of Nadia’s book Pastrix you might find yourself disagreeing with some of her views and struggling with the rough language, but looking past that I see the wondrously rough-edged faith of those twelve crude fisherman, who, when all the “smart ones” walked away shaking their heads, stayed right there with Jesus, not budging an inch, for precisely the same reason Nadia states so poignantly here: they simply couldn’t deny their experience of the truth in Jesus. They might not have had a clue as to what Jesus was talking about – but they couldn’t deny their experience of who he was.
When we finally make it to such a place, we are finally treading on the borders of this thing we call faith.
When have you found yourself wondering, at least to yourself, whether or not this whole “God-thing” is just a fairy tale? What keeps you anchored in faith – or are you in the process of cutting loose?
Abba, thank you for never forcing my hand or twisting my arm in this whole matter of faith. Thank you for drawing me in. Keep doing that. Keep drawing me deeper into the unsolved and unexplainable mystery of your heart and kingdom – so root me in the mystery of it, of you, of life, that I won’t waste my time by looking elsewhere for meaning that is only found here in you. Through Christ.