The Word of God
Nathaniel is surprised (John 1:43-51) when he meets Jesus. Despite his doubts that anything good might come from Nazareth, Jesus takes such notice of him (‘does he know my thoughts?’) that Nathaniel confesses: “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus assures Nathaniel he will see the fullness of God revealed in the “Son of Man” soon enough. Surely, Jesus’ words give Nathaniel pause.
A Hebrew Bible account of the very early prophet Samuel (I Samuel 3:1-10) points forward to Jesus, the Word made flesh. It contains a curious verse, “The LORD (YHWH,-Hebrew name for God) was with him (Samuel) and let none of his words fall to the ground.” Another translation reads, “Yahweh was with him and did not let a single word fall to the ground of all that he had told him.” Samuel listened to God and then God assured that the word was received (by the people, by Samuel?) and never lost. Clearly, there is profound intimacy between the LORD and Samuel.
Since it requires a human ear and voice, the Word of the Lord is always ‘messy,’ because the message is revealed in flesh. The Word of the Lord is in the prophet’s body before it is spoken or written.
Nathaniel’s confusion is part of a regular feature of the Gospel of John where confusion is always the first step to growth. John invites us not to shy away from confusion or uncertainty. Intimacy with God requires openness to being confused and uncertain since old habits and patterns must be disrupted.
Jesus, son of Abraham, Son of God, Word of God, Message of God—is human with a (messy!) body. We draw comfort and courage from this “untidy,” very real, Good News. God is with us both in Jesus’ humanity and that he is the Spirit of Christ. May we sit with this, with no need to understand.