About the middle of the festival Jesus went up into the temple and began to teach. The Jews were astonished at it, saying, “How does this man have such learning, when he has never been taught?” Then Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine but his who sent me. Anyone who resolves to do the will of God will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own. Those who speak on their own seek their own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and there is nothing false in him.
“Did not Moses give you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why are you looking for an opportunity to kill me?” The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who is trying to kill you?” Jesus answered them, “I performed one work, and all of you are astonished. Moses gave you circumcision (it is, of course, not from Moses, but from the patriarchs), and you circumcise a man on the sabbath. If a man receives circumcision on the sabbath in order that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because I healed a man’s whole body on the sabbath? Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”
Now some of the people of Jerusalem were saying, “Is not this the man whom they are trying to kill? And here he is, speaking openly, but they say nothing to him! Can it be that the authorities really know that this is the Messiah? Yet we know where this man is from; but when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from.” Then Jesus cried out as he was teaching in the temple, “You know me, and you know where I am from. I have not come on my own. But the one who sent me is true, and you do not know him. I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.” Then they tried to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him, because his hour had not yet come. Yet many in the crowd believed in him and were saying, “When the Messiah comes, will he do more signs than this man has done?”
The Pharisees heard the crowd muttering such things about him, and the chief priests and Pharisees sent temple police to arrest him. Jesus then said, “I will be with you a little while longer, and then I am going to him who sent me. You will search for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.” The Jews said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we will not find him? Does he intend to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks and teach the Greeks? What does he mean by saying, ‘You will search for me and you will not find me’ and ‘Where I am, you cannot come’?” the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.” John 7:14-36
When I was a young child I used to argue with a fried of mine about church. She was Catholic and I was Protestant. We thought we knew right from wrong, and each thought our way was right. We were small and foolish and had been taught by our teachers the wrongs "others" were doing. In fact, we were both brought up to worship God and each of our unique ways of worship were not the problem. Our attitudes and cultural teachings were. They tried to keep us from the other. Fortunately, we remain friends to this day and have crossed all sorts of boundaries together.
When Jesus was in the midst of the people, at a cultural festival, there was much confusion, argument and anger about his teaching. Some were threatened, others were trying to understand, and yet others were moved by his simple testimony. There was no violence despite the threats that surrounded him. He was a child of God, sealed as God's son and he stood among them with calm and reverence.There culture and upbringing said "no" to him, but their hearts understood a deeper relationship, a deeper presence. They were connected to God and the eternal through him and all were made children of God. We are invited today to put aside our cultural barriers and our rigid mindsets and see God in our midst today.
Today I ask God to help me set aside all preconceived notions and open my heart to God's love and presence today. May we forge beyond boundaries and find relationships where God in Christ is speaking to us. May we make room for the other and see the child of God in the complete stranger.