Who Gets Whom
Basil the Great, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Gregory of Nyssa, Pastors and Confessors
10 January 2017
"Oh, now I get it," we say in a flash of insight. Often that insight comes only after we have been quite blind to the real situation. We humans live a blinkered existence. Our field of vision is cut off by our spiritual blindness. The disciples of Jesus, not immune to human depravity, were the blind leading the blind. For them seeing was not believing, because seeing they did not see, and hearing they did not hear. One minute they could confess fervently that Jesus was Christ and Son of God, the next Jesus would rebuke them for their blindness. In John 16 Jesus revealed His divinity to the disciples in so many words. Then the disciples said, "Oh, now we get it!" But did they? They had had plenty of clear evidence about who this one was. Less than six weeks before this instruction, Jesus had raised Lazarus, a man who was four days in the grave. So who did they think could raise the dead? What clearer testimony did they need that this one was God of God? Why didn't they get it then?
 
Even after they claim to have gotten it they do not know what to make of the arrest, trial, crucifixion, death, and burial of Jesus. They flee in fear and deny Him as though He was unable to rescue them from death as He had rescued Lazarus. "Oh, now we get it." Yeah, right. Only the gift of the Holy Spirit can rescue them from their own fickle insight.
 
We cannot know who this God is and what He can do for us apart from His telling us. For we are endowed with the same insight as the disciples, which did not work out very well for them, did it? By our own intellectual power we will never really know Him or understand His ministry. It remains a miracle to believe. It is raising the dead. Spiritually we are Lazarus, rotting in the lightless tomb of our own insight. No, we don't get it. If we get anything at all it is because He gets it for us. We get nothing, unless He gets us. He comes to the graveyard of our existence and pries open the tomb with His word and says "come forth." Now we have gotten it; gotten by Him.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Hilary of Poitiers
 
"After many dark sayings, spoken in parables by Him whom they already knew as the Christ foretold by Moses and the Prophets, whom Nathanael had confessed as the Son of God and King of Israel, who had Himself reproached Philip, in his question about the Father, for not perceiving, by the works He did, that the Father was in Him and He in the Father; after He had already often taught them that He was sent from the Father; still, it was not till they had heard Him assert that He had gone forth from God that they confessed, in the words which immediately follow in the Gospel: 'His disciples said, "Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God"' (Jn 16:29-30). What was there so marvelous in this form of words, 'came from God,' which He had used?
 
"Had you disciples not seen, O holy and blessed men, who for the reward of your faith have received the keys of the kingdom of heaven and power to bind and to loose in heaven and earth, works so great, so truly divine, worked by our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God? And yet you profess that it was not until He had first told you that He had gone forth from God that ye attained the knowledge of the truth? And yet you had seen water turned into the marriage wine; one nature becoming another nature, whether it was by change, or by development, or by creation. And your hands had broken up the five loaves into a meal for that great multitude, and when all were satisfied you found that twelve baskets were needed to contain the fragments of the loaves. A small quantity of matter, in the process of relieving hunger, had multiplied into a great quantity of matter of the same nature. And you had seen withered hands recover their suppleness, the tongues of dumb men loosened into speech, the feet of the lame made swift to run, the eyes of the blind endowed with vision, and life restored to the dead. Lazarus, who stank already, had risen to his feet at a word. He was summoned from the tomb and instantly came forth, without a pause between the word and its fulfillment. He was standing before you, a living man, while the air was carrying the odor of death to your nostrils.
                                              
"I speak not of other exertions of His mighty, His divine powers. And is it, in spite of all this, only after you heard Him say, 'came from God,' that you understood whom He is that was sent from heaven? Is this the first time that the truth had been told you without a proverb? Is this the first time that the powers of His nature made it manifest to you that He came forth from God? And this in spite of His silent scrutiny of the purposes of your will, of His needing not to ask you concerning anything as though He were ignorant, of His universal knowledge? For all these things, done in the power and in the nature of God, are evidence that He must have come from God."

Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, 6.33
John 11:33-45

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled.  And he said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to him, "Lord, come and see."  Jesus wept.  So the Jews said, "See how he loved him!"  But some of them said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?"  Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 
 
Jesus said, "Take away the stone." Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, "Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days."  Jesus said to her, "Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?"  So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me.  I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me." 
 
When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out."  The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go."  Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him. (ESV)
Prayer
Lord Jesus, You get us by Your bloody death upon the cross. Send us Your Holy Spirit that we might see in Your death our life. Rescue us from the lightless tomb of our own blind insight. Grant that we would see life where there was only the odor of death. Amen.
 
For Lynne Greenway, that she would be strengthened in body and soul as she receives therapy for cancer
 
For all church workers, that they might not become weary in service and that they would look forward to the consummation of the age when all labor shall become joy
 
For the military forces of the United States, that they might be endowed with the vigilance to defend us from the attacks of our enemies, so that we would not be caught unaware and unprepared
Art: DAVID, Gerard  Triptych of Jean Des Trompes (1505)
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
© Scott Murray 2016
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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