“…But how could he be?…”
John 7:27a NLT
Sometimes, when I read the Bible, I have a hard time identifying with the people I’d like to identify with. When I read the book of Ruth, I struggled with it because I couldn’t see myself in Ruth. She is seriously June Cleaver mixed with Mother Theresa. I would love to be like her, but I’m just built a little differently.
I ended up connecting with someone else in Ruth’s life account: her Mother-In-Law, Naomi. She is so broken by the death of her husband and, shortly after, the deaths of her two sons, that she publicly changes her name to Mara, which means “bitter.” I can relate to that. I know bitterness.
I find myself struggling with the same thing as I read the Gospel of John. Jesus is so… Jesus. I can’t find myself in him. He’s so perfect and I’m so NOT. He has so much patience, he asserts himself with respect and truth, he’s calm in confrontation and struggle. He’s got his act together. That’s not me. However, there are quite a few others in Jesus’ day that I can identify with.
- There are his brothers that get a little snarky with him. I can identify with snarky and sarcastic. “…and Jesus’ brothers urged him to go to Judea for the celebration. ‘Go where your followers can see your miracles!’ they scoffed. ‘You can’t become a public figure if you hide like this! If you can do such wonderful things, prove it to the world.!’ For even his brothers didn’t believe in him.” (John 7:3-5 NLT)
- There’s the crowd who believes in Jesus but is scared to go public with their beliefs. I can identify with secret convictions. “There was a lot of discussion about him among the crowds. Some said, ‘He’s a wonderful man,’ while others said, ‘He’s nothing but a fraud, deceiving the people.’ But no one had the courage to speak favorably about him in public, for they were afraid of getting in trouble with the Jewish leaders.” (John 7:12-13 NLT)
- Then there’s the straight up, mega-confusion about if Jesus really is who he claims to be. I can totally understand that. If I were alive then, I’d be just as confused. “…Can it be that our leaders know that he really is the Messiah? But how could he be? For we know where this man comes from. When the Messiah comes, he will simply appear; no one will know where he comes from.” (John 7:26b-27 NLT)
Yep. I totally get all the imperfect people. I can see myself in their shoes with almost zero effort.
But it’s only a human struggle to see ourselves in the shoes of a perfect Jesus. Sure, we struggle with ego, vanity, and surrendering control, but when we’re truly faced with claiming to be perfect, somewhere inside us is a little voice that bellows out our deepest fears and failures.
God doesn’t struggle with seeing us in Jesus’ shoes. God doesn’t even skip a beat; in his eyes, we are as white as snow. Jesus’ perfect birth, life, death, and resurrection covers over snarky doubt, fear, confusion and all the other things I can easily identify with because of my humanity.
It’s incredible. It’s actually one of those things that’s so powerful I’m not quite sure where to “put it” in my brain’s processing department. But that’s where our faith steps in, right? Our faith knows right where to store it. 🙂
Dear Lord, I want so badly to see myself how you see me but I keep losing focus. I let my insecurities and failures blur my vision. Help me to focus on you, your love, and your gift. Help me stop questioning where it makes sense and instead just thank you! Help me to see myself in your shoes. Amen.