John 18:4 – What’s the Therefore There For?

I just heard somebody torture my language to make a point, but it was entirely beside the point he was making!

If you are reading a book and see the word “therefore” you must always ask yourself, “What is this ‘therefore’ there for?” Something has just happened in the text, and something else is about to happen because of it.  Your clue that these two things are related is ‘therefore’ so keep a sharp eye out – ‘therefore’ is a huge aid in reading comprehension.

Unless you’re this guy I heard speaking tonight.  A side point that was not strictly necessary to his speech was that Jesus didn’t know it all.  I am willing to go with him down this road a while.  Very God cannot be contained, or even well-understood by your average human mind.  Very God became human.  He therefore 😉 must have shed or altered some portion of himself in some way, or else we would have a baby running around doing miracles and speaking on day-one postpartum.  The record we have, instead, is one of Jesus growing up as an obedient son to a carpenter and his wife who was (probably) an exceedingly righteous woman.  He started as a baby.  He shat his diaper and pissed on his mother when she went to clean his bottom.  He ate rocks and put Joseph’s hammer and chisels into his mouth when he was teething.  You can bet that his parents made sure he was receiving as good a religious education as they could give him.  Joseph and Mary may have been illiterate or not (we don’t know) but they could certainly think.  They will have had parents who passed on to them their rich oral religious tradition.  They will have passed this tradition on to the infant Jesus from before he could speak.

Somewhere between pooping his nappies and dying on a Roman crucifix, Jesus learned a couple of things.  We are not told and therefore will probably never know exactly how much he knew, and when he knew it.  We do know, because we are told, that he and Mary knew he was special and was able to perform miracles before his ‘time was come.’  Some people argue that he was always omniscient.  He could do that.  Some people say he only got revelation of the plan in bits and pieces.  He could do that.  God could have set up Jesus’ body to be able to contain omniscience or he could have set it up to receive only limited revelation.  The Bible doesn’t say clearly enough to eliminate debate.  What it does say is he came into the world a baby and grew up to be a man, and that he “increased in wisdom and stature”.  This much should be obvious: a child learns and grows.  Jesus was a child, so he learned and grew.

My prejudice leads me to think that, as he read the prophets or they were read to him, and as he was preached-to, he got it.  The things that cause us to debate until we fall asleep from exhaustion, he didn’t have to learn twice.  He read a psalm and understood it was talking about the Messiah.  He read a prophet and understood it was talking about the Messiah.  All the double-meanings in scripture, I like to think he picked right up on.  That’s how he, at an age when he would have just begun more-serious religious training as a hebrew youth in those days, was astonishing the doctors of theology in the Temple.  He got it, and he could explain it.  I think it could be possible that he had to learn what he knew as other men learn (line upon line, precept upon precept) – but possibly learned faster and better than other men.  The Bible is largely silent on this, and to make an argument from silence is folly in which I decline to engage.

You’re rambling, VFD.

I was just coming to the point, hang on a minute!  So this supposed Bible Scholar said that the “therefore” in John 18:4 was telling us that Jesus had only minutes or hours before, during his prayers in the garden, been informed that he was going to be arrested etc..  It was a fresh bit of knowledge to him.  He didn’t know it the day before, but now he knew and therefore he asked the small army that came to arrest him, who they were looking for.  So goes the thinking.

Hold on there.

The Bible is not hard to understand.  God is not the author of confusion.  He left us the Bible (and explicitly the book of John) so we would understand and believe it, and come to faith in the Jesus!  Let us examine this passage in relevant (redacted) part:

…Jesus… went … with his disciples [into] a garden…. …Judas … which betrayed him, knew the place … having … a band of men and officers … cometh thither with lanterns … and weapons.

Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye?

They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. ….

Jesus answered, I have told you that I am he: if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way: That the saying might be fulfilled, which he spake, Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none.

– St. John 18: 1-9

this is very, very simple:  “therefore” links a cause and an effect, to wit: “They came – therefore – he said unto them”.  This is what the text said. Jesus knew he was about to be arrested by a band of soldiers.  He did not want his disciples to be tortured to death with him.  He asked the people who came for him a series of questions, the answers to which he already knew, so it would be obvious to everybody that his disciples were free to go.  Having made it obvious that He, Himself was the one they were going to nip, he lobbed the arresting party a logical soft ball, which they hit out of the ballpark.  Sure, of course your friends are free to go.

Then the friends scattered.  Done.  How hard was this to understand?  But my educated speaker missed it.

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One thought on “John 18:4 – What’s the Therefore There For?

  1. Pingback: Why Would You Say That? | Vote for David

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