Among several enigmatic moments in the gospels, there are two stories that I don't understand, two times when Jesus doesn't make sense to me at all.
1. After sending out the twelve to recover the "lost sheep of Israel" in Matthew's gospel, Jesus offers a blistering critique of the town and villages he (and the twelve?) had visited because they didn't repent after seeing his miracles. Then he offers a prayer, thanking God for the situation by adding, "Nobody gets me and nobody gets you; I'm the only one who knows you and you're the only one who knows me" (obviously my paraphrase).
2. At the peak of his career, Jesus asks the twelve about the scuttlebutt, "What are people saying about me?" They dutifully report what they've heard, "Some say you're Jeremiah, some say John the Baptizer come back from the dead, others say you're the reincarnation of somebody famous, like one of the prophets." To which Jesus makes no reply other than to ask, "What about you? Who do you think I am?" (again my paraphrase). And in Matthew's version, when Peter blurts out the right answer ("you're the One"), Jesus falls all over Peter as if he's just won the final question in Jeopardy.
One moment, Jesus is convinced nobody understands him. Later, he wants to know what people think. At first, Jesus doesn't care about his reputation. The next he seems to act like a nervous teenager, obsessing over what others are saying about him. Or, another way of looking at it, in the beginning Jesus didn't care what people thought. But, toward the end, he seems oblivious to the implications of how wrong people can be--even when it comes to their opinions about him. In other words, I don't understand Jesus' response to these two episodes regarding public opinion. Rather, I would've expected something like this:
1. What Jesus should have said was, "You don't know me now. But one day you'll understand."
2. What Jesus should have said was, "How ridiculous is that? Now, you all know by now that I'm not Jeremiah, or the Baptizer, or even one of the great prophets reincarnated, right?"
Which got me to thinking: is it possible that Matthew 11:27 is still true today, that none of us really get him? Is it probable that our ideas about him are just as ludicrous as the scuttlebutt reported by the twelve at Caesarea-Philippi?
On the one hand, I want to say, "no," because we have the Spirit to guide us in all truth. On the other hand, I'm wondering if our view of Jesus, our perceptions of "who he really is," are in fact skewed, slightly off, a bit over-worked, a little myopic, perhaps even provincial. In other words, we may not know him as well as we think. Maybe there's a part of him we'll never know, never figure out, never understand. And, perhaps Jesus, knowing our misperceptions, would say the same thing today, "Nobody really gets me."
That sentiment certainly cuts against the grain of our inclination to speak infallibly about him, as if no one understands Jesus like we do--especially when someone tells us their ideas about Jesus that sound so wrong. Indeed, we tend to think we've got him right and many others don't get him at all. And, I wonder what Jesus would say about that. Would he encourage us to pray, "Father, no one understands Jesus and therefore no one understands you." Or, would he remain silent when we tell him how wrong people can be?