Reflection: Jesus Would Not Trust Them

Reflection: Jesus Would Not Trust Them March 21, 2017

By Wendy Murray

Copyright © Wendy Murray 2017. All rights reserved.
Copyright © Wendy Murray 2017. All rights reserved.

In church the other day, as the pastor gave his sermon, a phrase jumped out about Jesus that turned my head. I say I  “turned my head” because, having been married to and divorced from a pastor whose sermons did not help as our marriage was disintegrating, I tend to diminish the place of the sermon in my overall worship experience. Sometimes it is hard to listen. Often it is difficult for me to be moved. I have been jaded and have felt on the outside of that part of personal edification in church life.

I don’t remember what the pastor was actually saying or why he had summoned the particular text that touched me. (He was preaching from a different passage and pulled in this one to supplement.) But he highlighted something about Jesus, which I  had forgotten. He said, quoting a passage in John’s gospel, “But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men” (2:24, NIV).

The reason this sentiment stopped me short is because, suddenly in that moment, I felt as if Jesus and I were on the same side, that his battered soul was not so far from my own. The difference was that while my own disillusionment (as one who had “entrusted myself”) had darkened me, Jesus had been able to keep his disillusionment in check and still under his command.  He continued to work, to live faithfully, to help people and pour himself out, despite making the clear-headed choice not to give over too much of himself to them, knowing as he did what was truly in their hearts.

Hearing those words turned my head.  I felt differently about Jesus. I saw him as a fellow co-belligerent, I in the dark corner of my mind in church and he, in the hidden corner of his heart engaged with a clamoring and often self-serving crowd.  Often, at this stage of my life and being divorced from a man who was (is) a pastor, I feel as if I am somehow on the outside — that living Christianly and serving exultantly is an aspect of devotion that has eluded me in no small part due to my disillusionment. Yet here I see Jesus himself feeling the outsider, and withholding himself. Even when the impulse may have arisen to join the crowd and give high-fives all around, he held back. He understood that such rousing conviviality was not at the core of true fellowship and devotion.

True fellowship, I perceived in that moment, must have been found for Jesus as one on the outside, in the lonely place where ruined hearts and jaded souls (like mine) scratch around in the dark beyond the reach of the high-fivers, among those who feel lost, perhaps who have been betrayed, but in any case incapable of entrusting oneself to anyone.

This is where I met Jesus at church the other day. Or perhaps it is where he met me. It is also when I saw that sometimes, even in a sermon, a little light can break.

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