Yesterday for my talk I read from John 7: 37-52. In a profoundly radical statement, Jesus says, “Let anyone who thirsts come and drink.” Jesus makes a simple invitation ascribing spiritual authority to the individual. Each one can come, if they are thirsty, and drink.
But right on the heels of this subversive invitation all kinds of oppositions, obstacles, excuses, distractions and alternatives come rushing in: popular opinion (some say he’s the Prophet, some say he’s the Messiah, some say he’s an Impostor); scriptural authority (essentially, “read the scriptures that say this can’t be possible!”); geography and ethnicity (“if he’s from Galilee, it isn’t valid); government authorities (the temple police don’t know what to do with him); religious and spiritual authorities (the chief priests rule him out); legal authorities (Pharisees); and tradition or historical authority (“No one’s ever talked like this before”).
This isn’t strange, but typical. These are just a few of the things that attempt to prevent us from direct encounter and a spiritual authority that is our own. Everyone else got upset because Jesus was liberating people without anyone else’s permission, endorsement, or approval. Which is why, I think, Jesus said, “Let them come!” I feel my ministry is largely a ministry of removing obstacles and liberating people into their own authority. Let them!
The pic is original art found here.