32 The Pharisees heard the crowd muttering these things about him, and the chief priests and Pharisees sent officers to arrest him. 33 Jesus then said, “I will be with you a little longer, and then I am going to him who sent me. 34 You will seek me and you will not find me. Where I am you cannot come.” 35 The Jews said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we will not find him? Does he intend to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks and teach the Greeks? 36 What does he mean by saying, ‘You will seek me and you will not find me’, and, ‘Where I am you cannot come’?”
37 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “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.’” 39 Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
40 When they heard these words, some of the people said, “This really is the Prophet.” 41 Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some said, “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?” 43 So there was a division among the people over him. 44 Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.
45 The officers then came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why did you not bring him?” 46 The officers answered, “No one ever spoke like this man!” 47 The Pharisees answered them, “Have you also been deceived? 48 Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him? 49 But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.” 50 Nicodemus, who had gone to him before, and who was one of them, said to them, 51 “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?” 52 They replied, “Are you from Galilee too? Search and see that no prophet arises from Galilee.”
I have been raised in the Plymouth Brethren church in England. In some ways I am Brethren. I believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God. I believe that it points us to Jesus and Jesus reconciles us to God. I also believe that the breaking of bread is a good thing to have every Sunday at our worship service. I see Jesus breaking bread with his disciples in scripture and he commanded us to do this in remembrance of him. So I was shocked to find other churches do this once a month, and some even do this only once a year. Also, we are to worship God in spirit and in truth. I was shocked to find some people worshiping God by dancing. Other people make banners and pictures and put them on their walls as an aid to worship. Shocking! Finally, I was raised with a solid belief in the priesthood of all believers. Everyone in the church should come with a him, song, or testimony so that the whole body should be built up. I see other churches have a single minister, or senior pastor, and the members of the congregation pay him to put on a show on Sunday. If he doesn’t perform well enough, they fill the pew in another church that has three rings and performing ponies!
The point is that I have read the Bible and interpreted it through my tradition. The Pharisees did the same and they were so rigid in their preconceived ideas that they missed the Messiah himself. They didn’t ask questions on the whole, like Nicodemus did, they pronounced judgment. However, their judgments were fatally flawed.
As we read a gospel do we read our Western Jesus into the Middle Eastern text? Do we soften words that should split us open? Do we see Jesus as reaching into the center of us and making transformations? Let’s hold up to scrutiny our preconceived notions and let’s listen to what Jesus says about himself. Let’s seek to have relationship with the authentic Jesus and see where he leads.
Jesus, before our denominational bias we are first of all your disciples. Let us not be Dispensational, Covenant, Calvinist, or Arminian before we are simply yours. Let us surrender to what you will say about yourself rather than what we would say about you.
- Who had preconceived notions about Jesus?
- How did their views disqualify Jesus as the Messiah?
- How did common people respond to Jesus?
- How have you changed in your beliefs about Jesus?
- Why must our views of Jesus be held up to biblical scrutiny?