Perhaps it may turn out a sang,
Perhaps turn out a sermon.

-- R. Burns Epistle to a Young Friend

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Working on Mysteries

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. -- John 7:28

I woke from a dream last night, and I wrote this down:  I am what I do not know.  

I am often unhappy with the way I am.  I do not like the way I react to things sometimes.  I do not like getting angry.  I get annoyed with myself for procrastination, for a lack of discipline in this area or that.  But who is that?  How do I get angry with myself?  This is not magic – not even, I don’t think, mysticism.  It’s just giving up needing to know, or being able to explain everything. 

Jesus was trained as a carpenter.  He would probably be right at home working an adze or a drawknife and building post-and-beam structures.  Would He have trouble understanding modern techniques, methods, and tools?  What about cars and computers?  If He was God, why didn’t He give us lessons in mathematics and quantum theory? 

Could it be because, as Heinlein said, specialization is for insects?  Perhaps we are meant to “generalists”.   Or maybe that’s a bias I have given that I have a tendency to know a little about a lot of things and prefer to talk in metaphors.

In the seventh chapter of John, it was the time of the Feast of Tabernacles, and people had gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate.  Jesus went up separately from His kinsmen and secretly, for the religious leadership was seeking opportunity to imprison, if not kill, Him.  Once in Jerusalem, He began to teach, and many began to wonder, given His authoritative doctrine, if He was, indeed, the Messiah.  There was quite a bit of debate.  Some said the Messiah had to come from David’s hometown of Bethlehem, and they knew that Jesus came from a town up north in Galilee.  Others said that the Anointed One’s origins would be hidden and unknown, but they knew, or thought they knew all about this Jesus. 

Jesus answers, at least, this last point:  You think know Me?  You think you know where I am from?  You know it not, just the name of a village where I was first seen.  You know nothing of My origins, of who I am, why I am here or Who sent Me.  That’s the Unknown of the Anointed One. 

Others all came or will come from the understandable.  They come as conquerors.  They seek glory or riches or power.  Those things are knowable.  They want to rule and exploit.  That’s understandable. 

But what if someone came who was true – who was Truth itself?  Would we understand that?  Would we be able to know that?  How paradoxical it seems that the One who is true we do not know.

We know personas.  We can see the edges of the masks.  We can look into the faces of the actors.  We can memorize the scripts.  But who puts on the play, and whose stage is this, and whose poetry do we scrawl in captured snatches?  Him, we do not know. 

He saith also, `Thou art unable to see My face, for man doth not see Me, and live' (Exodus 33:20, Young's Literal Translation).

No comments: