By Ken Asel
A Reading from the Gospel of John 7:37-52
37 On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, 38 and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’” 39 Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
40 When they heard these words, some in the crowd said, “This is really the prophet.” 41 Others said, “This is the Messiah.” But some asked, “Surely the Messiah does not come from Galilee, does he? 42 Has not the scripture said that the Messiah is descended from David and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?” 43 So there was a division in the crowd because of him. 44 Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.
45 Then the temple police went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, “Why did you not arrest him?” 46 The police answered, “Never has anyone spoken like this!” 47 Then the Pharisees replied, “Surely you have not been deceived too, have you? 48 Has any one of the authorities or of the Pharisees believed in him? 49 But this crowd, which does not know the law — they are accursed.” 50 Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus before, and who was one of them, asked, 51 “Our law does not judge people without first giving them a hearing to find out what they are doing, does it?” 52 They replied, “Surely you are not also from Galilee, are you? Search and you will see that no prophet is to arise from Galilee.”
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid fled the West for Bolivia. After years on the run, no one could catch the bank robbers who stole throughout the Rockies. In South America, at first their banking career found some success, but the federales were soon replaced by the Bolivian Army, who quickly apprehended them. Finally surrounded, a stunned Butch could in wonder only remark, “Who are those guys?”
Stunned, the crowd in today’s gospel ask the same of Jesus.
We encounter Jesus on the closing day of the feast, when the Jerusalem temple’s custodians carried for seven days the golden pitcher from the Pool of Siloam to the temple as a reminder of the water from the rock in the desert, which was the source of sustenance for the Hebrews on their journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. The people are reminded of the extraordinary graciousness of God in this a symbol of hope and prosperity as they await the coming of the Messiah. Now Jesus is saying and doing unprecedented things. Has the Messiah finally apprehended them? Is Jesus the chosen one, or was there to be another?
Nicodemus is there that day, and he intercedes on Jesus’ behalf, insisting he be given a chance. Instead someone from the crowd interjects an opposing voice: “Search and you will see that no prophet is to rise from Galilee.”
That day our Savior was met with contempt. If we were there, whose voice would ring in our ears as we stood before the Lord? On that day the verdict was swift. How could Jesus be anything but a carpenter from Galilee? The man who stands before the audience will soon be recognized to be the source of living water. And who was this guy? He would soon be known as the Messiah who would become our hope for all time.
(The Reverend) J. Kenneth Asel, D.Min. is a retired priest from the Diocese of Wyoming. Devvie and he have been married for over 30 years and reside on the Front Range.
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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer
Today we pray for:
St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, Lake Charles, La.
The Diocese of Karachi – The (united) Church of Pakistan