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known knowns, known unknowns, unknown unknowns (4)

Then he [Jesus, AD 33, Galilee] began to teach them that the Son of Man killed, and after three days rise again. [....] He was teaching his disciples, saying ...”The Son of Man is to be betrayed.... and they will kill him, and....he will rise again.” [....] He took the twelve aside again.....saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem and the Son of Man will be handed over...and they will....kill him; and after three days he will rise again.”  Mark 8: 31, 9: 31, 10: 32-34


Donald Rumsfeld’s famous quote – for the last time: “Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns - the ones we don't know we don't know.”


The “known known” for Jesus of Nazareth well before Passover in Jerusalem AD 33 was his imminent death – and, after three days, his rising again.


Those close to Jesus had three known unknowns that week in Jerusalem AD 33 - all me orientated. And times have not changed at all..... It could be me in Jersey 2009.


·         First risk: “Death is my great problem – it’s not yet is it?”

·         Second risk, “Well-being is my long-term objective, will I succeed?”

·         Third risk, “How will my place in the hierarchy rise – or fall?”


Jesus wanted to teach his key followers. He wanted them to know about their unknown unknowns. (And he wants me to know them properly too.) What were they?


The first truly amazing unknown unknown arose from the first bullet above. It was that death is in the power and authority of Jesus of Nazareth. Life, the opposite of death, is his alone to give..


The second unknown unknown arose from the second bullet point above. It was that possessions are his alone to give. Remember the “vineyard” being taken away from those who refused to give “fruit” to the vineyard owner – and the vineyard being given to others?


What about the third unknown unknown that Jesus’ disciples greatly needed to take on board? Something totally unknown, totally out of the blue.......This time it’s connected to the third bullet above. And, yet again it is taught through incidents and sound bites.


The first event is the loud (and annoying to others) shouting to Jesus of Nazareth (for mercy) of a blind beggar. Those above him in the hierarchy ordered him to be quiet. Then, when Jesus asked to speak with him, they ordered him to come. He had no authority, no power. He had his sight restored. What do you think was the unknown unknown risk for Jesus’ disciples?


A sound bite regarding this unknown unknown re “authority” and “hierarchy”? Jesus’ words: “Whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant.”   After that Jesus made his way into Jerusalem, not in an armour-plated Cadillac (as at the G20 in London) but on a donkey.


Another incident took place in the huge and impressive Temple building in Jerusalem’s centre when Jesus, despite the murderous intent that arose from the city authorities, drove out all the commerce, industry, money and goods that in that “house of prayer” – prayer that was intended by God there to arise from all men of any rank, any nationality, any origin.


Another sound bite? Jesus quoted ancient words: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing and it is marvellous in our eyes.”


The third unknown unknown is that all authority, all power is His. Just as life and death are His and all possessions are His – all creation in the sky and on earth. Now those are indeed three transcendent unknown unknowns – unknown to most Jersey folk today. Regrettably.            

‘How can self drive out self? As well expect Satan to drive out Satan!’ (John Stott, Chaplain to H M the Queen)
‘If Socrates would enter the room, we should rise and do him honour. But if Jesus Christ came into the room, we shall fall down on our knees and worship him’. (Napoleon Bonaparte, French Emperor, 1769-1821)
Richard Syvret

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