-by Tim Bias

Early in my ministry I was introduced to the Cotton Patch Gospel. Clarence Jordan creatively translated the gospel as if it had occurred in the cotton fields and the churches of rural South Georgia.

Tom Long tells the story of an actor, Tom Key, who portrayed the part of Jesus in the play “Cotton Patch Gospel” and who was bringing the house down in his portrayal. The play, a romping, bluegrass musical was in its final performance run, and Key was feeling confident and even inventive with his lines. His spontaneous enthusiasm was contagious, and he had forged between himself and the audience a rare bond of mutual exchange and appreciation.

During the scene depicting the Sermon on the Mount, Key, as Jesus, suddenly turned from the group on the stage toward the audience, pointed to the blank auditorium side wall, and said, “Look at the lilies in that field …” He stopped, almost as if he had forgotten the next line, peered around at the disciples, focused again on the audience and repeated, “Look at the lilies in that field …” Once more he stopped and seemed to be searching for the next words. The audience began to shift uncomfortably. His hand extended yet again to the blank wall, and this time he spoke the words slowly and deliberately,

“Look … at … the … lilies … in … that … field …”

Now he turned to the disciples, shrugging his shoulders, and said, “I can’t get them to look.” The room filled with laughter as it dawned on the audience that he really wanted us to look. And sure enough, when he gave one more try, “Look at the lilies in that field …” every head in the audience turned toward the side wall.

John, in his gospel, spends his entire Gospel trying to get people to look, really to look, at the life of Jesus. Light and darkness, vision and dimness, “once I was blind, but now I see,” these are the materials of John’s Gospel. Chapter after chapter, John’s finger points toward his Lord and his voice sounds the refrain, “Look … look … look.”

Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law and the Prophets: Jesus, Joseph’s son, from Nazareth.” Nathanael responded, “Can anything from Nazareth be good?” Philip said, “Come and see.”

Prayer for the Day

O God, create a pure heart in me and put a new and right spirit within me so that I may recognize you in every situation and circumstance, every relationship and acquaintance of the day, for blessed are the pure in heart, they shall see you. Amen.

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