‘I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures, but will tell you plainly of the Father. On that day you will ask in my name. I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world; again, I am leaving the world and am going to the Father.’
His disciples said, ‘Yes, now you are speaking plainly, not in any figure of speech! Now we know that you know all things, and do not need to have anyone question you; by this we believe that you came from God.’ Jesus answered them, ‘Do you now believe? The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each one to his home, and you will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!’
Reflection I love a good figure of speech as much as the next person. I appreciate the creativity of language that can inspire the human mind and embellish the soul in imaginative ways. I also really enjoy a good mixed metaphor: “Sir, I smell a rat; I see him forming in the air and darkening the sky; but I’ll nip him in the bud.” (att: Sir Boyle Roche, 1736-1807)
That said, there are times when it’s flippin’ annoying! Just tell me what you want to say!
Who are you Jesus?
This passage in John sounds very similar to a coming-out story to me. It is the right time for Jesus to tell his story; he is comfortable to express who he is ‘…because you have loved me and have believed I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world…’.
There it is. The incarnation is laid plainly before us. Phew – now we know!
What happens next? Do we change as a result of Jesus’ life-changing revelation?
I suspect we go back to life, we get on with whatever our day has in store (name that for yourself…), but I hope our trust in Jesus has deepened. His birth, ministry, death and resurrection, show us who God is for us: love – unconditional, boundless love, that surrounds the world.
Take courage my friends! You don’t need to navigate any tricky parables or figures of speech today. With the disciples, my relief is palpable – Jesus has spoken plainly and I can let his words dwell with me: ‘I came from the Father and have come into the world…’. Thanks be to God!
Prayer Incarnate God, we give thanks that you are with us we give thanks for the life of Jesus, who shows us who you are we give thanks for a way to follow and a kingdom to live. The creativity of words can stretch to reach you, but today, we give thanks for the plain truth of you. Amen
The Rev’d Martin Knight is minister of St Paul’s URC, South Croydon and South Croydon United Church (Methodist/URC).