Toward the end of his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?” And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”
That’s such a bizarre thing to say.
We think it means something like, “I don’t want to know you, and I’m going to act like I don’t know you, because I actually DO know you, and I don’t like you. I judge you and reject you.”
But Jesus says, “I never knew you…” Which means, he never knew them.
If he never knew them, how could he judge them or know that they were “workers of lawlessness?” Perhaps, because he “never knew” them, they could not be lawful, but only lawless, for he had not fulfilled the law in them?
That’s weird, but it gets weirder: If Jesus “never” knew them, not only could they not be lawful, they just couldn’t be. Jesus is the Word that God speaks into the void, creating everything that’s anything. He is the Truth, the Light, “I Am,” and “the Good” in flesh. What could he possibly not know… except the lie, the shadow, who “I am” not, that is evil in flesh?
In his letters, St. Paul tells us to put off the “old man” and put on “the new man created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” He tells us to put off the false and put on the True.
If God creates the new, eternal, and true “me”—who I am—I must create the old, temporal, and false “me”—who I am not. … “me,” or the devil and I, that is.
It was the devil that tempted me and humanity to take knowledge from the tree to create me in the image and likeness of God. We took knowledge of the Good and came to know evil, the death of the Good.
The devil tempts us to take knowledge from the tree in order to make our selves in the image and likeness of God, but when we take knowledge of the Good, we also take the Life of the Good, everything dies, and we come to know evil.
I should say, we gain “knowledge of” evil; I’m not sure anyone “knows” evil, for there is really nothing to know but the absence of “the Good.” Maybe the man that Jesus doesn’t know, never existed; you only imagine that he exists; he is your nightmare—the self-made “man.”
Maybe the “man” that Jesus doesn’t know is your false self? OR maybe the “man” that Jesus doesn’t know is your true self, trapped in your false self—the nightmare that you dream in space and time? Maybe he’s trapped. Maybe he’s hiding.
After Eve and that first Adam took fruit from the tree, they hid themselves in fig leaves and self-justifications; they hid themselves from the presence of their Helper. They hid their place of shame. Isn’t shame the perceived distance between who it is that we think we should be and who it is that we truly are? They will not let their Helper, their Husband, “know” them, and it appears that he refuses to rape them—to force them to be known.
In Scripture there are two ways “to know.”
First, we read that Eve and the first Adam took knowledge of the Good, everything died, and each was alone. That’s one way to know: to take knowledge.
Next, we read that Adam knew Eve, she got pregnant with life, and they were less alone. That’s a different way to know: to be known—to know as you are known, communion.
The first way is great for knowing “things.” It’s science.
To know a tree, you cut it down and count its rings.
To know a frog, you dissect it.
To know a wife, you could cut her down and dissect her; you would know all about her, but you could no longer know her, for you just killed her.
The snake tempted Eve (that’s us) to take knowledge of the Good, which killed the Life, and then we were no longer able to “do the will” of our Creator—we just crucified the Will of our Creator.
The Scribes and Pharisees took knowledge of Good and evil—the law—and used it to crucify the Life, and were unable to do the will of their Creator; they couldn’t “do the fruit,” they could only fake the fruit… and that’s creepy.
To do the Will of God, we must be known by God, and then give birth to the Life of God—Love, Joy, Peace, Faith, the Good. Bride of Christ, anything else is just creepy.
As you know, God kicked us out of the garden and placed two cherubim and a flaming sword to guard the way back to the tree. But we do come back to the tree, for the Spirit of the one who hung on the tree finds us, and with a flaming sword, cuts away our ego and brings us back to himself—He is Our Helper, the Eschatos Adam, the heart of our Father, the Promised Seed.
The Gospel is that in that stolen fruit, there is a seed; it dies in order to live.
The Gospel is that Body Broken and Blood Shed rise from the dead within us.
The Gospel is that what we thought we had taken has always been fore-given.
The Gospel is that our Father is waking us from our nightmare with a Word.
The Gospel is that the “man” that Jesus does not know is the “man” that has kept me in bondage all my days, the man I think I’m supposed to be in this dream that has become a nightmare; he is the man that competes, that feeds on the failures of others to feel better about himself, the zombie, the vampire, the wolf in sheep’s clothing. He is the false me that constantly condemns the true me, telling me that I am never enough… the accuser in me… the spawn of the devil.
The Good News is that that man doesn’t exist, and if he did, he was nailed to the tree.
The Good News is that Jesus doesn’t know the man that I’m trying to be.
The Good News is that Jesus knows, and loves, the man I am right now.
It doesn’t mean that I’ll stay the same; it means that I will grow.
One day, many years ago, I felt like I no longer knew my daughter.
She was mean—a little wolf in sheep’s clothing; I had lost her.
I said, “What’s gotten into you?”
She responded, “I know but I’m not telling you!”
I had her come sit with me until finally, she cracked.
“Daddy,” she said, “after you came to my kindergarten class, Kelly said that you said that you didn’t love me, and now you loved her.” And then my five-year old treasure burst into a fountain of tears. And my heart began to burn with a passion I can barely express—such deep pain and profound joy, for I had found the daughter I knew, even as the daughter I didn’t know was swept away by that river of tears.
I hugged her for a long time, then she got down off my lap and was good… without even trying.
What had gotten into her? The lie of the snake.
It made her try to earn my love, for she no longer believed that she was my love. It made her try to take my life, for she no longer believed that she is my life. It made her try to become me, for she no longer believed that she is me—the fruit of the tree that is me.
Sit with Jesus, and let him burn away the “man” that he does not know.
And he will feed the man that he does know with Infinite Mercy.
And you will do the Will of your Father in heaven.