In our reading from John's Gospel today, we come to the end of a long "discussion" Jesus has been having with leaders in the synagogue. They had picked up stones to kill him with, but he forestalls those throws by trying to convince them that what he has been saying is true. We have Jesus proclaiming that he is in God and God is in him: the fully divine and the fully human in one package. The leaders try to arrest him but Jesus escapes.
Jesus goes across the Jordan to an area where he and John the Baptist were well known. And the Gospel writer tells us that people flocked to him and believed in him. These folks were away from the power center, from the influence of those who were holding onto their power and authority. These leaders were fearful of what Jesus was saying would undermine their authority should it win out.
This Gospel reading makes me wonder about openness and honesty and speaking truth to power. The people flocking to Jesus, away from the power center, is an example of a common occurrence in human history. We do things in secret and then are cowed by the bullying of those in authority, even when we know they are incorrect and we are right. Jesus is showing us that there is another way. Not an easy or simple road, nor one that lacks danger, but a truthful one. And one where the world would be so different from the one in which we reside if we were to follow that route.
The people following Jesus couldn't accomplish this. Throughout history this has been our challenge: do we do what is right in secret and publicly do that which is palatable to the world around us? Or do we stand and speak the truth, knowing people with stones are standing right across from us ready to throw them.
Copyright 2010, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.