Daniel 14:27-42 / John 7:1-13
There is no shame in having been misunderstood. There is no crime in being ignored and unnoticed. We cannot control whether or not another chooses to attend to our words in the sense we mean, and we cannot in the end compel anyone to take interest in what we do. Yet, to think that others ought to heed our words, to insist that following our pattern of life is not simply helpful or laudable, but indeed the only way to escape death and inherit eternal life, and nonetheless to remain private and hidden, is surely indefensible. If we think others should know what it is we are doing and what we are about, should it not be our business to make our message known and to do whatever we can to see to it that others take notice?
This is the position taken by Jesus' brethren at the coming of the Feast of Tabernacles. Pass from hence and go into Judea, they said, that Thy disciples also may see Thy works which Thou dost. For there is no man that doth any thing in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly: if Thou do these things, manifest Thyself to the world. On the face of it, their logic is sound. Jesus has followers in Judea, but these have not seen the wonders he has done in Galilee. Why not let the Judean residents, and especially those in the holy city, Jerusalem, also have a share in witnessing the great works that he has wrought?
The foundation of Jesus' refusal is not, however, a counter theory about the psychology and sociology of getting to be known. Jesus provides not universally true rationale that would justify his actions. On the contrary, Jesus insists that his actions, his timing, his choice of being secretive or manifest, does not follow the logic of this world at all. His hours are not those produced by the spinning of the earth, but rather by the decrees of his Father from before the dawn of time. My time is not yet come, he says.
Yet, he says more than this: ... but your time is always ready. What Jesus tells his brethren, and tells us insofar as we agree with them, is that the mission of the Son, the saving work of God in the flesh, is not subject to the principles and presuppositions of our ordinary life, much less of a life marked by pettiness, gossip, abandonment of the poor, rivalry, divisions, and any other lack of charity: The world cannot hate you: but Me it hateth, because I give testimony of it, that the works thereof are evil. Jesus coming to us, and our coming to him, is not, nor was it ever meant to be, one of a number of solutions to our human problems. It is not even the best one. It is, rather, a drawing us into a whole new time, a whole new world, not merely a new way of living but an entirely new source of life itself. Jesus Christ aims for nothing less than our being taken up into the life of God, and nothing of or from the world, not its best and brightest, nor much less its most perverse, can ever prepare itself or indicate when that transformation should occur. To be taken up into God is precisely what can only come at God's initiative, at his time and his hour.
This is why our life in Christ is never meant to be a preparation for some big moment, a getting ready for some event. To see it this way is to fail to attend to God here and now, in each and every moment. To prepare for some coming hour would mean to reserve for ourselves, and not for Jesus Christ, this present time of preparation. Jesus, however, will have none of it, and will come into our lives on his own terms, indeed being already present secretly long before we note his presence. Our task to not to prepare, but to receive, not to query or anticipate, but rather to welcome our Lord Jesus Christ in joy.