Rev. Dr. Steven Yagerman
Moments of crisis may awaken what makes us most alive!
What a change: from large crowds chasing him across and all around the Sea of Galilee to a final dinner with a handful of his soon to be unfaithful followers. Had he lost his touch? Had he become less able to amaze and captivate? Maybe there were newer leaders who were gaining popularity or perhaps a new sensibility was emerging that was making the Galilean passé?
This fall from grace could make anybody lose heart. Maybe Jesus needed a new marketing scheme or a radical rebranding. Too many miracles? Maybe the scene in the temple was a little edgy? People aren’t getting these parables. Time to retrench, time to rethink, time to question everything.
Yet as Jesus was increasingly isolated and his arrest inevitable, rather than retreat and reassess, Jesus embraced his life changing experience and made meaning out of it. If anything, he became more focussed, more transparent, more present to all that he was.
In the 17th Chapter of the Gospel of John, Jesus prays. He asks that his followers can have the same experience with the living God as he had. The wall between life and death is superseded by the connection of his spirit with God’s spirit and with the spirit of those he had selected to join him.
The subtle shift we can see here, is that instead of a religion that makes Jesus something of an idol, we have Jesus as a dynamic presence praying that we can have the same experience of divine transcendence and imminence that he himself had. Jesus describes himself as something of a conduit for God’s grace and presence. He introduces us to a different way of being, a way that finds strength from a connection with the divine spirit that creates and sustains the universe. It is this Holy Spirit that liberates us from the ubiquitous tyrannies of culture and desire that control and oppress people and culture.
So as Jesus felt the crowds leave him he became more and more confident in the spirit that sustained and guided him. He became more explicitly present to his life, to his God and to his followers.
In addition to Jesus’ specific prayer I merely wanted to say that there are times when all that seems important to us is external success. But here we see that it is in moments of crisis that we can find that which is most important and makes us most real and alive!