The Ketchup Is Hidden In Plain Sight…John 14:7-9
Some things should be analyzed. Like this whole Higgs boson, or God particle, thing. I listened to a scientist reviewing the mathematics involved in the research and he said, “We’ve reviewed all our formulas and we think they’re correct.” I said the same thing about my eighth grade math homework. This guy sounded like Laurence Fishburne in “The Matrix”. Did anybody understand anything He said in those movies? Did Laurence Fishburne understand anything he said?
Some things need more to be experienced than analyzed. Like ketchup. We can’t give mathematical formulas or empirical proofs demonstrating the need for ketchup. We just know that this sucker (the food item in question) needs ketchup. Philosophers call this “a priori” knowledge. But when you need ketchup, nobody cares what a bunch of philosophers think. Ditto with the Frisbee. Frisbees are for throwing, not analyzing, and anyone watching some “über” Frisbee wizards on campus almost control those babies in mid-flight at a distance of fifty yards or more gets it. The throwing, or watching the throwing, justifies it all.
Jesus was rocking Laurence Fishburne from “The Matrix.” Thomas already called Him on it (John 14:5). But it wasn’t just here. Jesus always had to explain His parables to them (See Mark 4:24). They never knew what would happen next or what Jesus might say to blow everyone away like the whole “eat my flesh and drink my blood ” thing. If we’d been there instead of reading the story after everything played out, would we have understood it? “If you had known me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.” (v.7) Huh? Philip now jumps in as if to say, “Enough stories we don’t understand! Just pass the ketchup!!! Throw the stinkin’ Frisbee!!!!! Show us the Father!!!!!!! Let us see God and it will be enough!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Some people get misty eyed over apologetics, C.S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, Tim Keller or N.T. Wright. I get that. Some of us just know our soul needs ketchup. Philip was one of those but hardly the only one. A Canadian film crew shot a project called “Journey to Christmas” where five people of different spiritual walks went to Israel and spent Christmas in Bethlehem. Four of the five were young adults but Drew was my guy. Close to my age, Drew was in a self-proclaimed spiritual crisis. “My faith just isn’t able to be sustained anymore by circumstantial evidence, third-party testimony or rumors of glory and tribal conditioning. I kind feel like a young boy who has lost sight of his father in a crowded room and just wants his Father to let him know that He’s at least there, in the room…”. Here’s a modern Philip whose mouth waters for what only the ketchup can do but not finding the ketchup. He says in the film that he came to experience God, to really encounter Him if He exists. In a postscript at the film’s end, Drew says, “…I will never stop pushing for answers to these questions.”
And wouldn’t just seeing God make a lot of things easier? Drew speculates that if he could just see God, that would satisfy him for the rest of his life. You would think so and a lot of people do. I can only think of one person who asked to see God and got his wish – Moses (Exodus 33) Moses realized in a hurry that he’d bit off a lot more than he could chew when God gave him what he wanted. Supernatural (for God, these are natural) encounters with God are mostly ambushes with the mute button on. We wouldn’t survive a full-bore experience. But would it make faith easier? Let’s look at Israel during that exodus. They saw more of the touch and taste of God than there are M&M’s in a bag. Did this make faith easy? Of all the people who came out of Egypt, how many lived to settle down in the Promised Land? Two and Moses wasn’t one of them. Did seeing Jesus ablaze with the fire of glory on a mountain top keep Peter from denying Jesus three times? Ten lepers, one “Thank you” (Luke 17:11-21)
Back to Jesus. His reply is both simple and staggering. “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father…” Suddenly Philip stood there with a mouthful of ketchup. Jesus wasn’t transformed but Philip’s vision was. The look Philip knew, the ordinary clothes caked with road dust and sometimes pungent with body odor, the One he’d left it all for. There’d been hints, sparks of glory and whiffs of truth from God. But they faded or Philip missed them altogether. God sneaked up on Philip while being there all along. That’s how Jesus is; He pursues us until we’re the ones who think we’ve found Him.
And even seeing God does not obligate Him to explain Himself. “Okay, so why does my skin lose its elasticity so that these great tattoos end up looking like the monster bread mold from Neptune? My grandkids will think I’m a tool.” We’d still be pounding our heads on evil and suffering – both in the abstract and personally. But the tastes of Jesus we get now point to a day when the tastes will grow into something fuller that becomes our new life in Him. The mind and heart swallowed up together and made new. The equations will all sum up beyond what we can imagine, topped with ketchup.
Prayer point – We live so much of our lives staring down the stuff we face. Get some paper and a pencil and block off an hour or two. Philip had missed God right under his nose, in plain sight. Where have we? Ask the Lord to reveal His fingerprints on our life in place we didn’t see. Go back as far as either He or you would like.
Action point – Do we know a “Drew”? Let’s meet him (or her) for coffee and listen instead of using them as an opportunity to throw our apologetics fast ball. Jesus will already be at work there so draft off of Him.
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