In John’s Gospel, John 10; 22-30, Jesus dialogues with the Pharisees about his identity. This is in part a continuation of that dialogue.
The Pharisees were vigilant about exposing pretenders and religious fanatics. If there was a school to which Jesus belonged, it was that of the Pharisees. They were the reformers who worked and witnessed for a return to the more prophetic images of God. The Pharisees, as was Jesus, disputed the Temple authorities over how best to serve and honor a God of mercy, justice and compassion. The Pharisees are the ancestors of the Rabbinic School that moved out from Jerusalem after the destruction of the Temple and continues Judaism in the Synagogue and family gatherings. By the time of John’s gospel, the Temple has been destroyed and both Jews and the early followers of the Jesus way were each trying to find ways to survive in the midst of an often oppressive Roman Empire. The Pharisees often get a bad rap in the Gospels and especially in the Gospel of John …
We in the Church are certainly descendants of the Pharisees through both Jesus and Paul. As Pharisees we ask questions. We want to know if Jesus is the Messiah, or not.
I don’t only know Jesus through the Gospels, but through prayer and meditations which often take the form of conversations, real or imagined. “What would Jesus say?” is a part of my prayer. Here’s part of a recent conversation that I have the temerity to report.
Me. “Who are you anyway, Jesus?”
Jesus: “That’s the big question. Who do you say that I am?”
Me. “So you answer a question by asking another? I love you because you show me the human heart of the compassionate God. I see the God in and through and around you that moves over the whole creation like the first breath. And still lives as a human willing to live life fully into life through death into new life. I see the God in you who is willing to hang in there with us in all the joy and trial of living.”
Jesus. “It is enough. If you were to believe in the beauty of the flight of a Chickadee, it would be enough, for in such believing it would lead you into seeing the holy in all things.”
Me. “Can I believe then that you and the Father/Mother are one?”
Jesus. “ I’m glad you put it that way. The feminine is left out of much of Christianity. What’s so hard to believe about that? Sure we are. While I was with you on earth I was limited in my ability to discern of the great heart and mind of the Creator. That was the price and joy of being human. Yet, I was able to participate in God’s vision for creation through giving myself permission to BE in God’s presence. Now I’m taken up into the heart of God’s spaciousness. We are of the same substance; all of us on the earthly planet contain the substance of the holy. We are one with God, as much as we desire and take time to be with God and practice that love with our neighbors. While I was with you, part of my journey was to be fully human while holding fast to my connection with my Abba. That’s why I gave the prayer: Abba, Father, in heaven…” So that when you sought to be in God’s presence you could say this prayer and be there.“
Me. “Are you God?”
Jesus. “God is in and through and around me. God has breathed God’s breath into my being. In that sense I am God. I am in God as one who has been blessed with power to heal, to open the eyes of the blind, release the captive and to announce the jubilee year. In fact I am a good Pharisee.”
Me “What can I do?”
Jesus. “Besides to love one another, tell those who know me that I am a Jew, that I was born and died a Jew. It is out of the desert and out of bondage that I continue to walk with my people. They are still my chosen people. As for the Pharisees the church you have created in my name is at times the embodiment of what is best and also what was worst in us. In fact, all human systems have the same perpetual dispute as to who is in and who is out, over what the by-laws are, what rituals will be performed, the place of the Divine. What system of law they will incorporate and how it will be interpreted. Our arguments seem to be over the details, the fine print.”
Me. “What about the negative place of the Pharisees in the Gospels?”
Jesus. “That was and is still a family dispute. We love each other, but we can’t stop arguing. The main point of it all is this: ‘Little children Love one another as I have loved you. By this the world will know that you are my disciples.’ And take it easy on my family. I love them too.”
Then he looked at me, and told me a joke.
It was in the laughter…