“Where are you from?” “Where do you live now?” “Where are you going?”
Such questions come up repeatedly throughout John’s Gospel, and especially in chapter 7. We assume that the way someone answers these will help us understand their worldview and know what to expect from them. But that’s not as true as we might imagine. People are more than their hometowns, neighborhoods, and destinations.
The Pharisees, leaders of a Jewish reform movement, and the chief priests, who are in charge of the Temple, learn that some who listen to Jesus’ teaching are persuaded that he is the Messiah. But the leaders are convinced that Jesus is a blasphemer who threatens genuine faith, so they send the Temple police to arrest Jesus.
Jesus responds enigmatically to his attempted arrest, saying, “I’m not going to be here much longer; I’m going to the one who sent me: you’ll look for me, but you won’t be able to find me” (v. 33, paraphrase).
Most confusingly, he says: “where I am, you cannot come” (v. 34). He claims, while standing before them in the Temple, to also be in another “place,” a realm they can’t access. We understand this realm to be his relationship with God, “who sent me” (v. 33).
Jesus tells the suspicious religious leaders, “You will search for me, but you will not find me” (v. 33). This is a contrast to what he said to his earliest disciples in John 1 when they ask, “Rabbi, where are you staying?” Jesus says to them, “Come and see” (1:38-39).
Being open and curious, rather than suspicious and prejudiced, lead us to discover and experience the love between Jesus and the strong, tender God who sent him.
In what ways does our culture’s climate of suspicion and mistrust interfere with my spiritual growth as a loving person who follows Jesus?
Inviting, welcoming God, help me learn to say “yes” to the adventure of learning more about you and living more faithfully with you. Amen.