bursting our theological bubble | John 12.33-36
He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die. So the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” John 12:33-36 | ESV
Did the crowd listening in understand what he was talking about? Not so much. All of this was telegraphing just how he was going to die – and they had no grid for that whatsoever. But they did figure out he was talking about death. Which made them do a double-take. “Wait a minute, we’ve heard it right there from our Scriptures our entire lives: When Messiah shows, he’s here to stay. Forever. Period. So where do you think you’re going? What’s this talk about the ‘Son of Man’ leaving the scene, heading onward and upward? What – or more rather who – are you talking about? Who is this Son of Man character you keep going on about?”
Jesus was ready with an answer: “It’s only light out for you a little while longer. So take a walk and enjoy it while you can, before darkness creeps up on you leaving you with no clue where you’re going. So while that light is shining, lean hard into it. Be day-walkers rather than night-crawlers.”
No sooner had Jesus said all this, than he was gone, concealed from their prying, spying eyes.
MAV (Mike’s Amplified Version)
Remember the Greeks we started out with this week? As this section draws to a close, I find myself wondering about them – wondering what they were hearing, what they were thinking. Were they as clueless, as gridless, as the crowd seems to be?
And how about us –religious insiders or irreligious outsiders alike – what are we hearing and seeing? Jesus speaks of being “lifted up” clearly signifying death and departure, though clearly they had not a clue as to the full ramifications of that. All they know is that Jesus is bursting the theological, eschatological bubble of their expectations.
Messiah doesn’t die.
He doesn’t go anywhere.
He’s destined for a throne in that House, right there.
How can you die?
How can you leave?
Jesus isn’t much kinder with our expectations, either. “I have come that you might have life to the full,” but that means falling like a seed into the ground and dying. Most messianic wannabes before Jesus and after ended up on a cross of shame that left him dead and any and all followers scattered to the winds. Watch me be “lifted up” – scattering my honor, my life, to the four winds – and watch everyone flock to me.
The God economy.
Not in our plans at all.
But to discern and embrace it is the difference between walking forward in the daylight and stumbling aimlessly in the dark.
And with that enigmatic word, Jesus’ public testimony in Jerusalem draws to a close.
And while I imagine the locals squinting in the dark, I think I see a flicker of revelation in those outsider hearts…and in mine.
How open are you to having your expectations of God and life rewritten – to have your philosophical or theological “bubble” burst? What can help prepare us for this?
Abba, rewrite my expectations, re-envision my dreams. Burst the bubble of my assumptions that truth might remain – that you might remain. Yes, let me walk in that light, your light this day. Through Jesus.