INNER CIRCLE: Who Can Know The Truth?

INNER CIRCLE: Who Can Know The Truth? October 13, 2023

IMAGE: MidJourney

SAYING 78

Jesus said, “Why did you come out into the field? To see a reed shaken by the wind? And to see a man clothed in soft raiment? [Look, your] kings and your great men, these are the ones who wear soft clothing, and they [will] not be able to know the truth.

Many commentators on this saying tend to lean heavy on the fact that Jesus equates the rich – those who “wear soft clothing” – with those who are “not able to know the truth.” And while that may certainly be one element of this saying to consider, I’m not sure I think it’s the only, or even the primary point that Jesus wants to teach us here.

In the Canonical Gospels, Jesus says this about John the Baptist, but here he doesn’t refer to any specific person at all. Instead, Jesus simply asks the question: “Why did you come out into the field?” This question, disconnected from any reference to John the Baptist, leaves us wondering what field he might be referring to, and what led someone to go into the field in the first place.

Other translations of this saying render the world “field” as the broader term for “countryside,” which leaves us a bit further away from the Baptizer reference. “Why,” Jesus asks, “have you gone outside into the country? What were you looking for?” This is much more open-ended, isn’t it? It allows us to reframe the saying in more general terms, and hopefully, to remain open to wider interpretations as well.

For what reason will someone go out into the countryside? To look at the reeds blowing in the wind? Perhaps. Maybe we just hope to escape our daily routine. Maybe we’re looking for peace in the beauty and stillness of nature? These are all valid reasons why any one of us might decide to go out into the countryside.

But, then Jesus adds an unusual element to this hypothetical scenario: Kings and great men [governors and members of the court] who are dressed in expensive clothing and who, as Jesus declares, “[are] not able to know the truth.” What’s this all about? Where does this idea even come from? Who would expect to go out into the countryside to escape our daily routine and reconnect with the beauty and simplicity of nature, only to encounter the wealthy rulers and political power brokers who are more at home in the city? Perhaps this is exactly the point: we wouldn’t expect to see rich, powerful politicians out in the countryside. Why? Because their place is in the seats of power where they can be seen and adored and envied by the crowds. In the countryside there are no crowds. In the beauty of nature their power means nothing; their fame and wealth become meaningless. Here, where the wind blows and the birds sing and the river flows, their grandeur means nothing. Their expensive clothing pales in comparison to the lilies of the field. Their jewels cannot compare to the beauty of the sunset. Their fame is nothing in the face of God’s awe-inspiring Creation.

This, I believe, is why Jesus says that no one goes out into the countryside – into Nature – if they’re expecting to find those empty, shallow and vain expressions of power, wealth and fame. No, we go out into Nature to realize the Truth about the Divine – that God is everywhere. We discover, in the quiet stillness of creation, the reality that we are One with God and God is One with all things. Those who chase after power, wealth and fame cannot recognize the Truth of Divine connection. They are distracted by those foolish and fading pursuits that lead them away from God, not nearer.

Our task, then, is to continue going out into the countryside where Truth can be found and the Divine can be experienced without those man-made distractions that lull us into the deep slumber of materialism and the illusion of separation.

No one can do both of these at once. We cannot pursue power, wealth and fame while we seek to know the Truth that sets us free. We cannot dwell in the city and the countryside at once. We must choose to focus our energy on one or the other, metaphorically speaking. Either we become enamored with the pursuit of wealth and material possessions, or we resolve ourselves to seek the Divine in the reality of creation which surrounds us at all times.

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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.” He hosts the Second Cup with Keith podcast, and co-hosts the Apostates Anonymous podcast, and the Heretic Happy Hour Podcast.

His latest book, SOLA DEUS: What If God Is All Of Us? is available now on Amazon in Paperback and Kindle HERE>

 

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