Today’s reading: John 16
God, envelop me in grace and patience as I delve into discovery and truth. Let me find freedom in questioning and security in spaces of growth. May I not be discouraged in the slow process of revelation, but instead, find joy in divine wisdom.
When the Spirit of truth comes, she will guide you into all the truth; for she will not speak on her own, but will speak whatever she hears, and she will declare to you the things that are to come. She will glorify me, because she will take what is mine and declare it to you.
John 16: 13-14 NRSV*
When I read the Gospels, I often find myself confounded and impatient with Jesus. Why must he speak in riddles, offer cryptic morsels of truth, and leave me lacking clarity? In the margins of my Bible, next to particularly puzzling passages, you will find scribbled notes like: Why can’t he just say what he means?, This is annoying., and Seriously, Jesus, don’t you want me to get it?. Well, to answer that last question, I’ve come to believe that he does, but maybe not quite yet, and not all at once. Jesus’ disciples actually asked the same question as I – what is the purpose of parables? Jesus responds:
…to those who can’t see it yet, everything comes in stories, creating readiness, nudging them toward receptive insight. These are people –
Whose eyes are open but don’t see a thing,
Whose ears are open but don’t understand a word,
Who avoid making an about-face and getting forgiven.
Mark 4:11b-12 MSG
Through his (sometimes frustrating) parables, Jesus gently teaches us that knowing is a process, truth is far more than the letters of the law, and that there is a fullness and depth to resting with complexities. He is preparing us for revelation. He challenges the masculine modes of communication so prevalent here in the West. He convicts us of the impulse to arrive at solutions quickly and to distill multifaceted situations into maxims. Jesus, wisdom embodied, queers and deepens the meaning of teaching, understanding, and certainty. Jesus, so full of grace, allows us to explore, and with the help of the Spirit, develop into truth. This is the major pivot of John 16. Jesus assures us that it is better for us that he goes so that the Spirit comes, and with her, understanding (v.7).
Navigating meaning can often feel like blindly grasping at wisps. But be encouraged. Jesus does not require that we understand everything right away. In fact, the opposite is true. He requires that we work through the questioning and allow nascent thoughts to be led by the Spirit into her truth. It is through her that the obscure will be made known. So be patient and joyful in the process—revelation comes!
*The Spirit, without physical form, has no gender or sex. However, I have opted to use female pronouns to highlight the femininity of God. Pronouns are originally masculine in the NRSV translation.
Are you uncomfortable with uncertainty and the process of revelation? If so, how can you shift into a posture of joy as you wait on the Spirit and wrestle with truth?
Created by: Christal Chiu
About the author: Christal is a Development Officer for The Rescue Mission in Tacoma, Washington (raising funds to do really cool things in the community). She graduated with a MA from New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development and a BA in Communication Studies with Biblical and Gender Studies minors from Biola University. She is a pastor’s kid, a native Californian, and the type of person that brings up money, sexuality, and religion on the first date.
Video by: Charlene Choi
About the artist: Charlene is a voracious reader and creative storyteller. She is the Director of Strategy at one of Orange County’s largest Asian American nonprofits, Korean Community Services. KCS is home to KCS Health Center, KC Services, 복지 센터, and Korean American Center.