What’s the hardest piece of news you have ever had to communicate in your work? If you are in medicine, breaking news of terminal cancer or death of a loved one may have been your task. If you are in the police maybe you have knocked on a door and been the bearer of bad news.
Communicating hard messages can have different contexts. Sometimes the message is complex, at other times it is painful and yet in other cases it can be so revolutionary as to be disturbing. Telling a truth is not always an easy task.
Woven into four words, the Son of Man seeks to reveal a truth about himself which is as shocking as it is inspiring. These words are “I am not alone”; what was in his soul when he spoke them?
Jewish law at the time required two witnesses to agree, so the Son of Man explains that he, and God the Father form two witnesses, one the sent one, the other the sender.
Pull back a little further and you hear him explaining that these two are also one, because the Father is in him and he is in the Father. Not only that, but if you’ve seen Jesus you’ve seen the Father, because he and the Father are one.
Even more complex is the message that Jesus will ask the Father and together they will send the Spirit of God into the world to be a counselor. Woven into this thinking is a staggeringly lofty claim of authority, namely that Jesus has the position whereby he can send the Spirit of God himself, an act which he did to a group of terrified followers when he breathed the Spirit into them. This is the same Spirit who had descended upon him at his baptism and was ever present in his ministry.
So you now can hear the Son of Man explaining that he is not alone because of the oneness with the Father and his daily communion with the Spirit.
In these four words Jesus is explaining that he is God the Son, present with them, yet heaven is not vacant, the Father God has sent him, yet even when he returns to his Father he will remain present by the agency of the Spirit of God.
For anyone this is a complex, seemingly strange idea, but for fiercely monotheistic Jews it was (and still is) unacceptable. “You, they said, are a man making yourself equal with God”, which he was.
The Son of Man was clearly constantly aware of the embracing love of his Father as well as the tender leading of the Spirit and this is why he said; “I am not alone”.
At the same time there was a path which only he could tread, alone, in a unique calling. During his 33 years the Son of Man would forge a combination of natures which had not been possible before, ultimately inviting you to share in the communion of a new covenant.
“I am not alone” speaks of trinity, unity, combination and purpose.
It also speaks of your constant status this week. When you stand up to teach, sit down at a keyboard, speak around a table or on the phone; when you drive to an appointment, move a heavy load or craft an object you are not alone, you are part of a complex dynamic of relationships beyond reason. Everything becomes suffused with a purpose.
We will explore this next time.
13 The Pharisees challenged him, “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.” 14 Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going. 15 You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. 16 But if I do judge, my decisions are true, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me. 17 In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is true. 18 I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.”
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