Friday of week 4 of Lent – Gospel


Commentary on John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30

In today’s Gospel we move to the 7th chapter of John, skipping chapter 6 on the Bread of Life which will be read at another time in the liturgical cycle.

We are told that Jesus was confining his activities to Galilee. He did not want to go to Judea and the vicinity of Jerusalem because there were people there who wanted to kill him. Jesus does not expose himself unnecessarily to danger. He knows that a time is coming when the final conflict will be inevitable but that time is not yet.

It is the time of the Feast of Tabernacles and (this is not contained in today’s reading) his family are urging him to go up to Jerusalem for the feast and show himself to the world. He tells them the time is not ripe for him to do this but later on, after his family have left for the city, he goes privately and unknown to others. However, in Jerusalem, Jesus goes to the Temple area and begins to teach openly to the amazement of his listeners: “How does he know scripture without having studied?” (A good example of Johannine irony. Does the Word need to study the Word?!)

Jesus is a source of some confusion in the minds of many people. On the one hand, the people are aware that Jesus has become a target of their religious leaders and yet he goes about openly and speaking freely and without fear.

Jesus would not be Jesus if he were to keep his message to himself. The Word of God cannot remain silent. On the other hand they are also confused about the identity of Jesus. Is he allowed to speak freely because the leaders now believe he really is the Messiah-Christ? But everyone knows where Jesus comes from (Nazareth in Galilee). How, then, can he be the Messiah?

Jesus then tells them: “Yes, you know me and you know where I come from.” That is only partially true; rather, they think they know. “Yet I did not come on my own, but the One who sent me, whom you do not know, is true. I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.” And, if they do not know the Father, how can they know the Son? And vice versa.

This only angers his listeners who know what he is implying but they cannot arrest him there and then because “his time had not yet come”. The time of his arrest will only be in accordance with God’s plan.

Do we really know who Jesus is? There are many conflicting opinions out there. We can only know the real Jesus by reading the Scriptures under wise and perceptive guides who can penetrate the deeper meaning beneath the literal text. We can also learn a lot by prayer and contemplation. Lent is an excellent time for us to do both and, better still, to begin making it a practice that goes far beyond Lent.

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