19. Father?

Short Meditations in John 8:  19. Father?

Jn 8:19  Then they asked him, “Where is your father?” “You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.”

There are times when you wonder why Jesus did not answer more directly. For instance, here he could have answered, “God in heaven is my father,” but instead he gives an oblique reply. Why? In the teaching that comes between the teaching and then the explanation of the Parable of the Sower, Jesus explains to his disciples that his teaching is for those whose eyes and hearts are open to him, not for those who are casual about him, and he sums up this approach in, “Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance.” (Mt 13:12) Almost never does Jesus give direct teaching about himself, but rather teaching that needs thinking about to receive understanding.

So he has just spoken about his father who has sent him (v.18) which provokes the question, “Where is your father?”  That seems a funny answer. Perhaps we might have expected, “Who is your father?” Joseph was his natural father but whether the Pharisees knew this is unknown. “Where” seem to ask the wider question, “Where is this one who you say will bear testimony on your behalf?” and maybe even, “Why isn’t he here to bear testimony on your behalf?”

Jesus’ response to this is almost, “There’s not much point me spelling this out to you because you neither realize who I am nor truly know my Father.”  But then he adds a truly enigmatic comment that is one of those that need really thinking about: “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.”  I really like the way the Message version puts it: “You’re looking right at me and you don’t see me. How do you expect to see the Father? If you knew me, you would at the same time know the Father,” and the Living Bible puts it more plainly: “You don’t know who I am, so you don’t know who my Father is. If you knew me, then you would know him too.”

Do you see this very profound statement? For us, onlookers two millennia later, seeing it in the pages of the Gospels, it should be just the same. The person who comes to these pages with an open heart, with no pre-conceived views, should see something of the wonder of this miracle-working, wonder-bringing, amazing teacher that should say, “This is unlike anyone else in history! How can this be? To do these things, say these things, is beyond human ability, this must be God expressing Himself.” But we are blinded by sin and so criticism born our of defensive self-concern, or blinded by preconceived deception, stops that happening so often. Usually it is only when glimmers of the truth permeate our blindness that we pause up to examine this ‘burning bush’ and wonder.

Application: Do I take the trouble to bring God’s word before Him when I do not immediately understand it? Do I persevere with Him to deepen understanding and faith?

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