John's gospel is full of people who got confused. Nicodemus hadn't a clue what Jesus meant by being 'born again.' Some Pharisees thought that Jesus might be going to kill himself. A formerly blind man didn't know whether Jesus was a sinner or not.
Confusion is a vital stage in our journey of faith. If Jesus hasn't confused you , maybe you don't know him very well.
As we saw last week, John's gospel isn't simple. This gospel spends 20 chapters circling around two ideas, that Jesus is God's Son and that he gives eternal life to all who believe in him.
Confused? Well there are two non-confused sort of reactions. The first is to reject the claims that John makes. Surely a human being cannot be God's Son? Surely all this stuff about eternal life is a pipe-dream? The second is to believe it at face value. Yes it must be true because the Bible says it is. I prefer the second reaction to the first, but I don't think it is the best we can do.
Let's think about Jesus as God's Son. John's gospel uses this idea as a shorthand for something much more complicated. That's why this book has a strange opening about the Word of God that is God and is with God. If that opening line doesn't confuse you I don't know what will. But please grasp this: John doesn't want to leave us confused. He wants us to look at a whole list of signs and pictures so we grasp as far as humanly possible who Jesus is.
This gospel tells us twice that Jesus is the Light of the World. He brings us from darkness to light. Our first reaction might be confusion, but that is only the start ....
"I like to keep things simple. Don't give me all this complicated theology."
I know. I sort of understand. It's just that people say that sometimes when they don't want to think.
"Can't I just be a simple Bible believing Christian?"
Yes you can, but that means that you have to take on trust the scholarly work of your Bible translator. And he or she may be wrong.
"But isn't the message of the Bible simple?"
Not really. Have you read what the Apostle Peter wrote about the letters of Paul?
"But what the Bible says about XXX is crystal clear, isn't it?"
OK, let me tell you why it's not quite that simple ....
Jesus' disciples thought that the feeding of the 5000 was simple. It meant that Jesus was the new king who was going to lead them to victory. I suggest you read John 6 all the way through sometime. It's a sad story in which those who wanted to keep things simple found their hopes dashed, got completely confused, took offence at Jesus and walked away. The miracle was great but the words of Jesus sounded ridiculous.
I believe in a God who is so wonderful that he is beyond human explanation. I hope you do too.
XXX - insert whatever you are debating at the moment.