John 7:1-10, 25-30 (CEB)
Jesus goes to Jerusalem
I love the idea of Jesus incognito sneaking off to a festival – but he seems to suck at it! Surely the first rule for a preacher/teacher/rabbi who wants to sneak off to a festival incognito is NOT to go and preach/teach in public at that festival! 🙂
So he is rumbled… and a dispute breaks out about where he’s from. It sounds like a bit of a daft argument – “we know where he’s from, so he can’t be the Messiah because we won’t know where the Messiah is from!” hmmm… I’m certainly convinced… NOT!
(It’s not entirely clear WHY they believed they would not know where the Messiah came from – and I could go into that – but it’s enough for this occasion to note that they clearly DID believe that.)
So, where WAS Jesus from?
an Essex girl is involved in a nasty car crash and is trapped and bleeding. The paramedics soon arrive on site…
medic: “its ok, I’m a paramedic and i’m going to ask you some questions. OK?”
medic: “Whats your name?”
medic: “OK Sharon, is this your car?”
medic: “where are you bleeding from?”
sharon: “Romford, mate.”
Ok – I can never resist an opportunity to roll out my favourite Essex-girl joke – and I did live there for 13 years so I feel I have earned the right to tell it!
Jesus wasn’t from Romford.
He was clearly from the little town of Bethlehem – Nazareth. Sometimes he is called “The Nazarene” – there is a church denomination called “The Nazarenes”. People knew his parents – it seemed to them that knowing where Jesus was “from” and being able to go to Asda and bump into Jesus’ parents by the cheese counter somehow made Jesus merely “ordinary” and thus very much NOT Messiah material.
It might be that this idea of not knowing where Jesus was “from” reflects the idea that the Messiah would have to have a mysterious and special arrival to set him apart from other mere mortals. You might suddenly remember that he did – the whole virgin-birth/angel-filled Christmas-story saga told by Luke and Matthew… You might then ask yourself whether that story was known at the time of this festival – if it was, then they’d have their special birth-story to slot into place and could believe he was Messiah… If they didn’t know this miraculous birth story at the time of this festival – and they knew his family – then you might begin to ask yourself whether this whole birth-story thing was added later for theological rather than “historical” reasons…
far be it from me to plant such earth-shatteringly heretical thoughts in your head – I just said that you MIGHT begin to ask yourself those things! 😉
Anyway – it was the question “where are you (bleeding) from” that arrested me today.
Where IS Jesus from?
Where are YOU from, where am I from?
The place I am technically “from” is one of the many the least unimportant things about me. I am from Hythe, across Southampton Water – about as far south as you can get and still be born in England. Yet I would NEVER describe myself as a Southerner! (How could anyone ever believe I was the Messiah if I ever admitted that?? strewth!!)
I am “from” the North West in terms of my growing up (from the tender age of 2yrs)… I define myself as a Northerner.
But does that really answer the question in any meaningful way?
Jesus comes back to the bickering crowd. You want to know where I am from, eh? I’ll tell you where I am from:
“You know me and where I am from. I haven’t come on my own. The one who sent me is true, and you don’t know him. I know him because I am from him and he sent me.”
Is there a sense in which we can all say that? Is there a sense in which we can all claim to be “from” God – made by God – God’s children? If so, then surely that would be a much more powerful way of answering the question: “Where are you (bleeding) from?”