‘Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we (Pharisees) know? John 6:41-51 Just the other day I said after introducing myself I said to someone that they probably wouldn’t remember my name. She responded, “I’ll remember, I have a best friend by that name.” Today’s reading caused me to realize we often make assumptions about one another based on what we see and what we perceive to know. Admittedly, I am the one who forgets names. Oddly enough, I won’t forget her name because of the same reason. I too have a best friend (since middle school) that has her name. A relationship with God transcends what we think we know of one another because only God fully knows each of us. It is much easier to accept what you perceive to know than to seek out what you don’t know. However, if we accept that nothing is fully known except by God then we should never stop seeking to know one another rather than simply accepting what we think we know or that other people will accept what we perceive to know.
Sir, …even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs. Mark 7:24-37 Two thousand plus years later and the Syrophoenician woman is still right today. Some owners even treat their pets better than they treat people. Dogs know that all they have to do is wait and eventually something will end up on the floor. Jesus’ ministry may have been to the lost sheep of Israel, but as one of God’s creations, the woman and her sick child were no less valuable or deserving of God’s healing grace. It makes no difference what other people see, but what we know and understand our selves to be in the spirit that matters.
Like Christ, God most certainly has a purpose for us, a purpose, which in reality is a continuation of his plan the moment he sent his son Jesus Christ in to the world not to participate in the ways of the world but rather to help us become one with God and one with each other in order that we might believe and have eternal life, even as we struggle with the questions and doubts. Most assuredly today when we are called by God we are not destined to be lost in in Judas’ struggle, and in the same way that Peter who denied him and Thomas who doubted Christ’s resurrection, finally took their place among the believers, each of us must stand to take our place in order that the scripture be fulfilled in our own lives. There will be difficulties in our ministries including the struggles we have among one another. However, it is important to know that God plans for each of us to be a witness in our own way using the gifts he has given us. A witness is a person who testifies to what is seen, heard or known by personal presence or perception. In Judas, we understand that it is possible to witness something and still get it wrong because of our physical perception. As believers, our witness comes by our faith in God’s spiritual gift and our experience of the presence of the Holy Spirit, and not by what we physically perceive but rather by what we know to be true in Christ Jesus. Because of this we have every opportunity to get the relationship right.
When Philip finds Nathanael to share with him that they had found the one about whom Moses and the prophets wrote about, Nathanael didn’t sound convinced or enthusiastic about Nazareth being the hometown of the Messiah. Nazareth is apparently equal to the cities we have today which suffer from many economic hardships which brings along with it poor standards of education and violence. How is it possible that anything good could come from such a depressed economic and social state? Philip simply responds, “Come and see,” and what happened next blew Nathanael’s mind. I will never forget a program I helped to participate in while working for a national social service agency that brought the brightest high school students from around a metropolitan area. The students that participated were from the highest ranked schools in a major city and surrounding counties, as well as a school that was noted for its failures in educating its students. One of the workshops involved an elaborate economic and mathematical exercise. Each school was charged with working out a plan concerning supply and demand and be the first group to find the solution to that plan. To my own amazement the students from one of the most economically depressed areas in the state were the first (rather quickly) to finish and get it right! We often harden our heart to what we see from a distance. But what we see cannot be compared to God’s higher thoughts or what God knows is within any of us. Can anything good come out of Nazareth? I say, God created us, good can and will come from anywhere God chooses. Just come and see!