INNER CIRCLE: He Who Lives In Your Presence

INNER CIRCLE: He Who Lives In Your Presence April 29, 2023

 

IMAGE: Pexels


Saying 52: His disciples said to him, “Twenty-four prophets spoke in Israel, and they all spoke (to us).” He said to them, “You have omitted He who lives in your presence and have spoken of those who are dead.”

 

Once again, Duffy’s translation offers an important tweak to the more common versions of this saying which mostly render the disciples’ statement as “…and they all spoke of you”, whereas, as Duffy suggests, it should probably say, “…and they all spoke to us.”

 

This slight adjustment makes a world of difference. In the more traditional translations it appears as if the disciples are affirming that those twenty-four prophets spoke of Jesus, but if so then the response Jesus gives makes much less sense.

 

However, if Duffy’s correction is accurate, then the answer Jesus gives seems to correct something in their statement about their unique status as God’s chosen people – in contrast to others – the Gentiles – to whom the prophets did not speak.

 

I think this is very likely the better translation as it provides Jesus with yet another opportunity to respond to the disciples’ tendency to fall back into the illusion of separation.

 

Think of this ongoing awake/asleep condition of the disciples here in Thomas as an ongoing metaphor which is best expressed in the story we find in the Synoptics about how, on the night he was betrayed, Jesus took his disciples to the Mount of Olives to pray and not one of them could stay awake for even one hour. That’s what the disciples are like all throughout this Gospel of Thomas. Jesus awakens them with a saying that illuminates the illusion of separation and affirms their connection with Christ and with one another, and they continually fall right back to sleep in the next saying and require Jesus to shake them out of their slumber once again.

 

So, to me, it’s par for the course that the disciples would begin this saying by pointing out how their people were sent twenty-four prophets who came and spoke to them alone. Jesus, in response, points out that they are forgetting about “He who lives in your presence” and are distracted by those prophets-of-old who, by now, are long dead.

 

Let’s not assume too quickly that when Jesus refers to “He who lives in your presence” he is pointing to himself. Remember, Jesus in this Gospel is always quick to remind his disciples that he is not their Master, and that they are from the Light, and that Christ is in them, and in everyone.

 

The One who “lives in [their] presence” is the Eternal Christ. This same Christ fills them even now. They have no need to refer back to long-dead prophets of long ago for wisdom, or to hear the voice of God, because the Spirit of Christ is alive inside of them at this very moment.

 

Jesus wants them to understand that they are in the Father, and the Father is in them, and they are in one another. This glorious new revelation is greater than anything written by Moses, or spoken by David, or transcribed by Isaiah, or Jeremiah, or Elijah.

 

Christ, the One in whom we all live and move have our Being, is living and breathing within each of them right now.

 

Christ is living and breathing within you, too.

 

Right now.

 

Can you feel it?

 

Do you believe this?

 

What could be more beautiful or more glorious than this?

**

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Keith Giles is the best-selling author of the Jesus Un series. He has appeared on CNN, USA Today, BuzzFeed, and John Fugelsang’s “Tell Me Everything.” His latest book, SOLA MYSTERIUM: Celebrating the Beautiful Uncertainty of Everything is available now on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.

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