John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30
In today’s gospel from John, Jesus is preaching quite boldly in the Temple precincts during the Festival of Booths. He was drawing large crowds and they were listening to him in amazement because they knew that the religious authorities were hostile towards him. Yet, here he was in plain sight preaching the gospel and for a moment we hear the crowds carefully considering whether this could be the messiah.
But as soon as they ask the question to themselves they shrug it off, rationalizing their doubts and returning to an almost comical quip about Jesus’ origins. This passage in the Revised Standard Version of the New Testament reads: Can it be that the authorities have really discovered that this is the Anointed One of God? But He cannot be because we know where He comes from. This is significant. You may remember earlier in John’s gospel when Philip approaches Nathaniel and says “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.”46Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”’[i]
The Jews believed that the Messiah of God would just appear. He would suddenly show up on the scene and take everyone by surprise, an epiphany of sorts. They knew God to be extraordinary and the scriptures were full of amazing stories such as the creation of the universe in only seven days[ii], floods and rainbows[iii], as well as narrow escapes from oppression through the parting of seas[iv]. Yes, the messiah would be from Bethlehem, the City of David, but that is all that would be known about him. This Jesus is someone they knew; they knew who his parents were and his brothers and sisters. They had seen him grow up and were aware of his eccentricities. For them, Jesus did not fit their expectations of who God was and how God worked and with this they very quickly dismiss the notion that Jesus was this anointed one.
They were right to expect amazing things from God but what they failed to see was the manner in which these things had always been made manifest throughout their history. If you break down the word extraordinary, you get two words: extra and ordinary. When God made humanity he formed man out the clay of the earth, very ordinary. What was extraordinary was that he breathed the breath of life into his nostrils and man became animate.[v] Bethlehem, where the Messiah was to come from, was called the City of David after the great and much beloved King. But David had humble beginnings as a poor shepherd boy, the youngest of his brothers.[vi] Yet he was the one anointed by God through Samuel to become the great King of Israel. What the people of Jesus’ day were missing was that God did amazing things working through the ordinary. This is how they become extraordinary.
How is God working in your life? How have you come to experience the presence of God in your midst? It very well could be that the reason you’re here in this chapel today is because you have had a very sudden and powerful experience of God, perhaps an epiphany. But epiphanies are not sudden, they actually occur when just the right amount of information has been gathered and all of a sudden what has been ordinary becomes transfigured and you see in new light. It could be that Jesus is being made manifest in your life through something that is broken and in need of healing. If this is so, remember that Jesus is doing for you what you cannot do for yourself, working in extraordinary ways. If you’re not sure how God is working in your life, this can be the content of your prayer. Ask God for the healing you yearn for and then rest in the assurance that God is working wonders in the ordinary as He has done since the beginning of time.
[i] John 1:45-46
[ii] Genesis 1:1-2:3
[iii] Genesis 6:11-9:17
[iv] Exodus 14:10-31
[v] Genesis 2:4-7
[vi]1 Samuel 16:1-13
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