It has been over two months, seriously, since I've done a gratitude/Encountering Jesus post... not because I've not had much for which to be grateful or because I've gotten bored with this study... but rather because I've been overwhelmed with life with teenagers and their crazy schedules, other circumstances... AND? We've been on the road, almost nonstop.
So, it is good to feel like I can hop back in the saddle... and get back to working my way through Jesus encounters in the book of John.
Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.”
At that point some of the people of Jerusalem began to ask, “Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill? Here he is, speaking publicly, and they are not saying a word to him. Have the authorities really concluded that he is the Messiah? But we know where this man is from; when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from.”
Then Jesus, still teaching in the temple courts, cried out, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. I am not here on my own authority, but he who sent me is true. You do not know him, but I know him because I am from him and he sent me."
At this they tried to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come. Still, many in the crowd believed in him. They said, “When the Messiah comes, will he perform more signs than this man?”
The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering such things about him. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees sent temple guards to arrest him. (John 7:24b-32)Some of these passages of Jesus' encounters with the Pharisees and His conversations with larger groups of people, I find confusing, hard to understand and make application and in general, just wonder what I'm missing. That's how I'd been feeling about these verses, until I read them again, early this afternoon and I noticed the word "whispering..."
Whispering doesn't always have a negative connotation - but it does in these words. Jesus is, if you will, making a scene - and people are uncomfortable:
- First, there's the exhortation to stop judging based on what things look like based off of first glance. Of course, that is something everyone does. It requires a persistent, devoted practice of choosing grace and mercy instead of always assuming I've understood. It requires entering into someone else's life to find out the deeper story. It demands seeking truth even when it might not be convenient.
- Then, people start asking questions - recognizing the Jesus is the one stirring up the temple officials, so much so that there'd been quite public conversation about killing Him... I'd always assumed that up until the very end, that had actually been a hidden agenda of the temple leadership. Apparently not. It is almost as if they are saying, "They said they were gonna take care of this guy. Why haven't they done it. He's nothing but a nuisance and a danger!"
- Then they begin to doubt. At first, it appears the general public assumed that the authorities lack of action must indicate that they believe Jesus might be the Messiah... Of course, that is an inconvenient thought, which they quickly rationalize according to man's logic. For, if He really is Messiah, He really has the right to confront as He is and the people recognized that admission was the same thing as agreeing with Christ... agreeing that they need to change.
- Again, Jesus confronts... He insists that they do know from where He comes. They sense the truth and painful wisdom in His Words, see the miraculous in what He does... and are silenced by the strength of His confrontation.
As I've continued to reread these verses, it seems like all of this whispering is going on on "at the back of the class" or on the outskirts of the teaching circle. Jesus is up front, or in the middle, and there are people who are attentive, to whom He is speaking and teaching. Religious leaders are watching and listening from the outside. Perhaps it is these and other "knowledgeable" good people on the fringes who are the ones starting this whispering.
Then, all of the sudden, Jesus addresses the murmuring out-liers.
I'm a teacher by trade. One strategy when you've got murmuring going on is to simply ignore. That, however, does not always work. Maybe Jesus tried ignoring first... but then He cried out. And His cry revealed Who had sent Him: "...He Who sent me is true. You do not know him..."
Or... "God sent me and you do not know Him!"
People didn't like hearing that then. They still don't like hearing that today, regardless of the fact that most of us "imagine" God, at least to some extent, in our own image because it is what we know and what we understand. When we think we are right, then we are sure God agrees with us, right? That admonition from the beginning - to make judgments based on truth rather than on appearances - holds true as we look at God and what He is doing and as we try to understand Him.
Where do we get that truth? It must come from Him, His Word, His World, His speaking through circumstances and other people, His Holy Spirit guiding from within.
Yet it is still so natural to rely on my intuition... and to whisper quiet complaints when God won't fit in my box or do what makes sense to me.
After Jesus' declaration, people were angry. They tried to "seize" Him. "They" tried to apprehend with intent to imprison. The they here must be the general crowd because later the chief priests and the Pharisees did, officially, send guards to arrest Him. Fascinating, that the "officially" sanctioned action, the one the crowd had been expecting earlier, didn't come until after. After the Pharisees heard other, different whispers. Whispers, perhaps, no longer of discontent but of incredulous belief. Whispers asking:
- If the coming Messiah would be able to perform miracles like this man, Jesus?
- If Jesus was the coming Messiah?
That day, some whisperers believed...
this week's gratitude list
(#'s 4332 - 4359)
refund check finally arrived in the mail
little squirt's birthday
another new teen
anniversary celebration together in Quebec
that the truck didn't break down until we got to Québec
an extra day in one of our favorite places
fondue by candlelight with some really special people
singing Christmas carols en français
snow, snow and more snow - an amazingly beautiful, frozen winter wonderland and white Christmas
making it home in time for Jonathan's birthday...
...and for the girls' Christmas concert
that shoveling the driveway is such great exercise
Christmas with family
sopapillas as a birthday breakfast
New Year's with the Johnsons... and now my kids want to move to South Carolina
meeting the board of our organization
catching up with friends who've got kids the age of our littles
gator walks and watches
adjoining hotel rooms
downloaded videos to watch with my boy in the car
first half championship football with friends, even if the end was nothing like the beginning and we didn't find out until the next morning
safety for my dad through surgery
seeing cousins (and their pets), even if the visit was too short
a policeman hero as an uncle
a new pet, named Fivel
knowing where we'll be living next year!
Ten most recent posts in this series:
- Bread of Heaven... Bread of Life
- "gong-good'-zo" - Go ahead and say that, just like it looks like it sounds.
- "Stop grumbling among yourselves!"
- Not so much about filling tummies... but lives...
- To Whom Shall We Go?
- Learned? Schmearned!
- Instead judge correctly (part 1)
- Instead judge correctly (part 2)
- Instead judge correctly (part 3)