One of the best points that Brown makes in his commentary is that the author of John portrays Jesus as a “hidden messiah”, who only erratically and confusingly presents himself.
To make this claim, Brown first points to God, who is very much hidden – no eye can see him, no ear can hear him. Jesus claims to do only what he sees God doing, meaning that his actions will be mysterious, too.
Next, Brown points to Jesus himself, who was born to a working-class family, grew up in a backwater community, and had stinky fishermen for disciples, all of which are not messiah-like. Only through interactions with people like John the Baptist does Jesus start to become un-hidden as the messiah. Even when Jesus performs miraculous signs, people misunderstand the point of the signs, and he remains hidden as the messiah.
Lastly, Brown points to the ways in which Jesus purposefully does “hidden” or “confusing” things. He turns the water into wine, and no one but his disciples and the servants at the wedding know about it. He clears the temple and says that if the temple is destroyed, he can rebuild it in three days, which confuses the people. He tells Nicodemus he must be “born again”, which clearly confuses him. He hides from the crowd after he feeds the 5000. He sneaks into Jerusalem for the feast of tabernacles, and on and on.
Even at the end, he appears to his followers in a “hidden” way, before he goes into heaven and is “hidden” in the clouds, taking on the hiddeness of God.
If you are like me, you were always taught that Jesus is plain and clear, and that people don’t come to him because they love their sin. Never once was I taught about the “hiddeness” of the messiah.
What were you taught about Jesus – was he the obvious messiah, or a hidden one?
Does the idea of a “hidden messiah” make Jesus make more or less sense?