by miriam berg
Chapter VII

(John 7:1-11)
In the first thirteen verses of John's seventh chapter it is reported to us that Jesus sent his disciples to Jerusalem for the feast of tabernacles, telling them that he would not come yet. But then John tells us that he went up "in secret". Now the Synoptics report Jesus as exhorting his followers not to hide their light under a bushel, but to let it shine before all people; and they also report that he entered into each city, and straightway into the synagogue, and taught. They report further that Jesus said (Mark 1:38) that he had come forth out of the wilderness to teach. So what is this Jesus of John anyway, who goes up to Jerusalem "in secret"? Furthermore, the journey from Galilee to Jerusalem was one of several days, but John reports it in a single sentence. Was Jesus hiding? What did he want the disciples to think? What could he have wanted us to think? It is extremely hard to reconcile this report with the report of Mark and the others that crowds flocked to Jesus, that he taught wherever he was, and that he dined with publicans and sinners.

(John 7:14-53)
The next section in this chapter is another involved theological argument between Jesus and "the Jews", in which he claims to have come directly from God and that "living water" would flow from the belly of anyone who believed on him, totally unlike anything to be found in the Synoptics. The narrative contains many references to the movement which was growing to kill Jesus: and arguments among the Jews about whether he was the Messiah or not, culminating in the quotation that "out of Galilee ariseth no prophet". But even in this argument, Jesus does not claim Messiahship, but claims no more divinity than any man or woman might claim: My teaching is not mine, but God's: yet a little while and I go to him that sent me: I am not come of myself, but he that sent me is true. Surely any of us might speak these words about ourselves, since we are all here but a little while, and we are not come here of ourselves, nor is anything we might teach our own, but God's, whether we see God as a personal parent, or as a mystical universal uniting force, or even as nothing. None of us created ourselves, and whatever we learn we owe to the world around us, directly or indirectly. Let groups of people argue as they will, about whether someone is divine or not; it proves nothing, since we are all divine insofar as we have the capacity for compassion and forgiveness; but one who claims to be superior to their fellow human beings is most assuredly not, no matter how positive they may be about it or how many people may tell them so.

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