dead end cul de sac | John 8.21-24
21 So he said to them again, “I am going away, and you will seek me, and you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come.” 22 So the Jews said, “Will he kill himself, since he says, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?”23 He said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.” John 8.21-24 | ESV
Fast forward. But just a little. Still in the temple, now over towards Solomon’s Portico. Still teaching. Jesus picks up the dangling thread and finishes this verbal testimony tapestry: “I’m leaving and you’ll look for me, but your search will lead you nowhere but to the dead end cul de sac of your own stubborn rebellion, and there you’ll die. The end. Fin. You simply can’t go where I’m heading.” The local religious trolls snarked to each other, “What? Is he going to kill himself and wake up in hell? Is that what he means by ‘You can’t go where I’m heading’?” Jesus then spoke clearly through their snickering guffaws, “If anyone here is from the nether regions, it’s you. I’m from above. You’re right at home here in this world of yours, but not me. This world of yours is not my home. Which is why I told you, ‘you’re headed to the dead end cul de sac of your own stubborn rebellion and there you will die.’ Yes, if you can’t see and trust who I AM, you will shrivel and die, right there in the sins of your stubborn defiance.” MAV (Mike’s Amplified Version)
Alfred Edersheim postulates a shift here in scenery from the Temple Treasury to Solomon’s Porch – a long colonnaded walkway that frequently accommodated large groups who would gather to hear rabbis expounding or prophets proclaiming. Here there would also have been exit doorways through which people could step to grab stones to throw at bad rabbis or false prophets, and through these same exits those same prophets and rabbis could make a speedy exit and blend into the throngs.
Both will happen at the climax of this new encounter which Jesus begins by stating the obvious: “clearly, we aren’t tracking here!”
The prophet Amos proclaimed in ancient times, “Can two walk together unless they are agreed?”
No, they can’t, is the implied and obvious answer – and “no we won’t” is Jesus’ assertion here.
It’s one thing to have our path intersect that of Christ. It happens to every human being more times than any of us realize. It’s another thing to have our path drawn into his, becoming one with his.
Jesus would tell his disciples in the not-too-distant future, “Where I am going you know, and the way you know” (and they, of course, had no clue as to what he was really talking about. Par for the course, for them and for us!).
But to the experts who would challenge and debate the light rather than bask in it, he makes it clear: “You don’t know me and you don’t know where I’m going – and you’ll never be able to follow me there.”
It’s an early edition of his final, thundered pronouncement: “Your house is left to you desolate. You will not see me again. Not until you learn to cry, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’”
We are all on a trajectory moving on and up towards life and light, or cycling in upon ourselves into a dead end cul de sac of our own blindness, stubbornness, and distrust.
Jesus presents us with only two options.
Eternity is merely the confirmation of which direction it is we have consistently been taking all our lives.
Wide-opened eyes of wonder and belief or squinty-eyed cynicism and distrust.
Fine irony there.
The narrow path is wide-eyed, the wide way squinty-eyed;
the narrow path leads to ever widening fields of expanding experience and life;
the wide path to an ever-shrinking passage leading only to a dead end cul de sac with one of those “no outlet” signs staring us in the face.
Oh for the wisdom to choose the truly scenic route…
How would you characterize the trajectory and momentum of your life? Do you like where you are heading? How can we make a course correction if we don’t?
Light of the world, deliver me from the pull of darker ruts. Free me to pursue that “road less travelled” that leads me into wide open vistas bathed in your Light. In your Light, let me see light. Through Jesus.