“We know where he is from. When the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from.” (John 7:27)

The conflict about the origins of Jesus arose because of a popu­lar belief that the Messiah’s origins would be hidden. Since the people at the Temple claimed to know Jesus’ family and hometown, they con­cluded that he could not possibly be the Messiah. The problem was that the people were thinking about Jesus’ human and earthly origins, but Jesus was referring to his divine and heav­enly origins.

Jesus challenged the people about their relationship with the Father who had sent him. If they knew the Father and wanted to do his will, the mystery of Jesus’ origin would be unveiled to them: “Whoever chooses to do his will shall know whether my teaching is from God or whether I speak on my own” (John 7:17). Clearly, Jesus was speaking on one level—infinite, heavenly, spiritual— and the people were listening on another—finite, earthly, unspiritual.

The clash between these two cre­ated a mounting hostility among the people. Because they were trying to figure Jesus out through their human reasoning alone, they were not open to ideas that didn’t agree with their own logic. Because they relied only on earthly reasoning, they ended up stifling the “spirit that gives life” (John 6:63).

Like these Jews, we too can fall into the trap of striving to know Jesus through human reasoning alone. But Jesus calls us to know him on a higher level through the power of his Spirit, whom he gives to anyone who loves him and obeys him. On our own, we can know a lot about Jesus, but only through the Spirit can we know Jesus.

If you want to know Jesus more deeply this Lent, take on the attitude of humility that people like Mary, John, and Peter had. Humility means loving Jesus more than we love our­selves. It means becoming like children and relying on the Spirit to teach us through the liturgy, prayer, Scripture, and the events of our lives. It really is possible to know the Lord!

“Jesus, give me a humble heart so that I can discover you more deeply. Fill me with a greater affection for you so that I can surrender more of my life to you.”

Wisdom 2:1,12-22;

Psalm 34:17-21,23