It's been a long time since posting very much on the blog. Much has transpired over this time and rather than try to catch up, I will start where I am.
I do not know how much I will be writing about running and racing, so if you come here for that, you might be a bit uninterested in what I am writing. Perhaps not. Either way, you are welcome to stay and even comment if you'd like.
Today's Gospel is quite the powerhouse, isn't it? Jesus is telling the elders that HE is equivalent to God by using the phrase, I AM. At this point in time, that name was only used by Yahweh Himself.
Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
before Abraham came to be, I AM.”So they picked up stones to throw at him;but Jesus hid and went out of the temple area.
Most every reflection I read on this particular Gospel passage speaks to the profound power in the "I AM" and as it should be. Today, however, I was struck by the last line...
but Jesus HID and went out of the temple area.
Jesus hid himself from his people. And in placing myself in the Living Word, I see that Jesus hid from me. Why? Why does He hide himself and then LEAVE the temple?! I felt very uncomfortable with this. As I sat with the scripture a bit more, I recall that in the Old Testament, God hid his face from his people when he found they were doing evil; when they lacked faithfulness. In this passage, the Jews were about to stone Him. For the sake of their souls, and because He knew it was not yet His time for His Passion, Jesus hid himself and left the area so that He could carry out his mission. In reading through the entire 8th chapter of John, we first see that he meets the adulterous woman and challenges the Pharisees and some might even say out-witted them by not blaspheming God, but instead, point to the sins of all the accusers. He then offers forgiveness to the woman and then begins to immediately reveal to the Pharisees exactly who He is, "the Light of the World", Of course the Pharisees question his credibility by pointing out that He is testifying on his own behalf. Jesus then answers this by telling them that The Father will testify for Him because The Father sent him! Can you imagine the anger that was being stoked in the hearts of the Pharisees?!
Jesus is allowed to leave and not be arrested and he begins to teach about sin, their sinfulness, and how he has come to save them all. He reminds them that "if they were children of Abraham, they would be doing the work of Abraham", (Jn 8:39) In other words, they were not living as faithful people of God, rather they were steeped in sin.
The passages continue with much more deep revelation about who Jesus is and why He came. He even tells the people that they belong to their father the devil! Ouch!
But back to what struck me today...Jesus Hid. In my life today, does Jesus ever hide from me? I have always felt that when I am furthest from him, it is because I have turned away from him. I still believe that this is true, but perhaps it is even deeper than that. Perhaps, just as when someone I love is doing something I can't bear to watch, literally or figuratively, I hide my face from them. I do not watch. I ignore. Radio Silence. I wonder, Does Jesus hide his precious face from me when I sin? When I am not faithfully living in the Gospel? Scripture tells me that God does. And when I think of the possibility that Jesus might be so hurt by my sin, I am dismayed.
Psalm 30:7 mentions that David too was dismayed when God hid his face. Why does God do this? I am not a scholar, nor a theologian, but I have to wonder, does Jesus hide because it helps me to yearn to see Him again? If I hurt my friend's feelings and they do not want to speak to me or see me, what do I want more than anything in the world? To see them. To speak to them. To reconcile with them.
Jesus wants me to reconcile with Him as well. He IS always there for me to come back to. But he will not come where he is not invited. He will not remove my freedom to choose sin. So I can not expect that He will never hide himself from me. If I am unfaithful and unwilling to see my evil deeds, then it seems as though Christ hidden from me would not be to difficult to understand.
The beautiful thing in all of this is His mercy. If there is the teeniest, tiniest, smidgen of effort on my part to reconcile, He is there. And I am remade in Him.