Please bear with me – it may be a bit of a circuitous path, but I think you’ll see where I’m going with it. The “journey” takes us today to 1 John 1:5-10.
It always seems to start out with Jesus’ question, “Who do YOU say that I am?”
We’ll soon be celebrating, if you observe a liturgical calendar, the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6. Annually this commemorates the story of the Magi traveling by a “star” to the child Jesus to offer Him their gifts. In some of the Eastern rites, Epiphany is regarded as the “Gentile Christmas”. (It celebrates the first, dare I say it, “Star Trek”!)
Visits here, visits there. The shepherds… the magi… Mary’s visit to Elizabeth… Abram and his clan walking out of Ur… Moses and Israel wandering forty years in the wilderness… pilgrims throughout history visiting holy places. Even the Holy Family, at the prompting of angels, had to make an unexpected pilgrimage and extended stay into Egypt, until after the death of Herod who feared the One whose star had made itself known to the magi. The picture of life in the ancient world seems to point to a lot of people on the move with a view to encounters with the Supernatural and the Supernal One in a very serious manner.
The spectacle emerges, as we peer into the past, that a long and risky journey was a matter of course for some serious “spiritual seekers”. Pilgrimages represented, in the ancient world, a higher priority than they are now. These journeys were arduous, expensive, and consumed huge amounts of time. With no Smart Phones or Skype, it meant that you may never again see your loved ones, and if anything happened to you, your family would never know for years whether you lived or died. Obviously travel on foot, horseback or donkey-back, or via caravan was far more dangerous than today’s travel modes. However, there was probably a lot more travel for purposes of spiritual quests than most of us would imagine. That speaks volumes to the idea that Truth and the knowledge of God were far more important to people than they are now, and far riskier…
Would we make such efforts to know God, if we did not have the ease of the Internet and safer, faster modes of travel? Would we even bother to be “seekers”?
Info-net “travel” leads us to such tidbits as the claims of Nicholas Notovitch ( http://sacred-texts.com/chr/uljc/ ) and scholars who research his writings. They purport to tell of the “missing years” of the life of Jesus, concerning which the Bible tells us nothing, and may have been years where the Master Himself made an extensive pilgrimage into India and Tibet, to study and teach among the lamas, gurus, religious leaders, and the peoples of those lands.
One thing the narrative brings to light is that His Presence caused quite a stir wherever He went – as much as it did among the Jews to whom He ministered from age 30 to 33 after returning home. (Remember how He wowed the priests at only age 12, becoming “lost” in the Temple.)
His ministry went well with the common people wherever He was received, but it certainly upset the applecart of elite religious leaders. Apparently on more than one occasion it was claimed that He had to flee for His life as “Religion, Inc.” clashed wherever His higher truth and direct path to God was offered to all people.
What was it that so demonized Him? He pointed out the corruption of religionists who failed to deal compassionately with the poor, the downtrodden, outcasts, the disenfranchised, and women in these cultures. The pursuit of being Godly had been supplanted by the desire to be god-like. (Think about that for a moment…)
What is not shown in these accounts, however, is the peculiarity of what John brings to light in John 1:12,13 – “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
So, the “problem” may have been His way of bringing common people into the awareness that they could have direct experience with the Presence, unconditional Love, and power of God, without the benefit of priestcraft or ritual, thus bringing the wrath of Religion, Inc. down upon Him.
However, some current “researchers” who advance the “alternative” stories about Jesus, seem to also downplay and even dismantle an integral part of the narrative already provided by the Scriptures – that of the Redemptive component of His work. Without this, His life is simply that of another “world teacher” promoting the humanistic idea of “good works” of the flesh, rather than the transforming truth of the Gospel.
The “missing years” idea may be controversial but need not be problematic. We need to pray for discernment. The point here is that His teaching was already clearly head and shoulders above both the Jewish orthodoxy (at age 12 in the Temple), or anywhere He may have gone! He called a spade a spade, and it made Him very unpopular with those who held the advantages of priestcraft. He also elevated the “poor” to an equal place at the table of the Heavenly Father, as children of God entitled to “… grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ”. (Ephesians 4:15) “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3)
How often do we hear this powerful, life giving part of His message, although it is clearly stated in many places throughout the Scripture? And why do we not hear it?
John reminds us (1 John 1:5-7) that walking in His light is evidenced by not walking in the “darkness of sin” – ἁμαρτία (hamartia / ham-ar-tee’-ah) – also defined as disobedience or rebellion against God, even “independence” from God. The original translation means “to miss the mark” of God’s holy standard of righteousness.
In conversion or “rebirth”, the motivation is changed inwardly by Grace from, “What can I get away with (sin)?” to spiritually passionate surrender to God through the Holy Spirit, thus being empowered and led directly by our Heavenly Father.
My stars! Now, that’s some kind of Light!
Originally published on my website