Still Talking About Jesus - Letters to the Prison
From the series Letters to the Prison
Last week, Jesus made a stunning claim:
- “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”-John 7:37b-38
And in John 7:40-44, we see a “division among the people.” Everybody’s talking about Jesus, and everybody’s got a different opinion. Some believe him and some want him dead. Some have the right ideas about Jesus, but they’re working with faulty information. For example:
- “Is the Christ to come from Galilee? 42 Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” -John 7:41b-42
Scripture does indeed predict that the Messiah comes from Bethlehem (Micah 5:2) and Jesus was indeed born in Bethlehem (Luke 2:4). But apparently some in the crowd don’t know this. Did they bother to ask? Shouldn’t they know before deciding?
Isn’t that like many of us today? The world is still talking about Jesus all these thousands of years later and the opinions about him are just as diverse. But very few people actually go to the source to see what Jesus says about himself. So, they’re trying to answer the central question of everyone’s life (is Jesus who he says he is?) with faulty or incomplete information. Sadly, they do that even when all the information they need is reliably recorded right here in the Bible.
Meanwhile, the guards sent to arrest Jesus still haven’t arrested him (John 7:44-45). When asked why, they reply: “No one ever spoke like this man!” (John 7:46). To be clear, these guards were not Roman soldiers. If they were, they would likely have followed orders regardless of what Jesus said. But the Jewish leaders couldn’t send Roman soldiers to arrest Jesus because he wasn’t committing a crime. So, the men sent were Levitical guards who were responsible for keeping the peace at the temple. They were religious authorities who were likely well-trained in the Old Testament Scriptures. So, when they say “no one” has ever spoken like Jesus, they know what they’re talking about… and they could find no fault in what he was saying. So, maybe they failed to arrest Jesus because God prevented them, but more than likely they chose not to arrest Jesus because Jesus convinced them with the truth of his words.
Which is why the Pharisees respond to the guards with an accusation:
- “Have you also been deceived? 48 Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him? -John 7:47b-48
Ironically, the Jewish leaders –those who should recognize the truth of Jesus’ words—are accusing those who believe Jesus of being “deceived.” The crowd was clearly mis-informed about some things, and they might have a responsibility to learn the right information before deciding about Jesus, but we couldn’t really expect the crowd to know everything about what the Scriptures say. Meanwhile, the Jewish leaders --who should know everything about the Scriptures-- are being willfully ignorant… accusing those who believe of “being deceived.” This is a dire warning to us: What will we do with the truth about Jesus as we study it together?