comment thread | John 7.40-43
When they heard these words, some of the people said, “This really is the Prophet.” Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some said, “Is the Christ to come from Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” So there was a division among the people over him. Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him. John 7.40-43 | ESV
Some of the crowd – obviously not the locals! – when they heard him cry this out with such passion, kept saying, “No doubt about it! This is the one, the Prophet!” Others among them kept saying, the excitement building, “Prophet nothing, this is the MESSIAH!” But others chimed in, “Not so fast! The Messiah doesn’t hale from backwater Galilee, does he? No way! The old books clearly call it, don’t they? The Messiah isn’t some Galilean, but a Bethlehemite, in the family tree of David, from David’s home town.” So the listening crowd was pretty well split this way and that over him. Some felt threatened and were chomping at the bit to seize him, but no one laid a finger on him. MAV
Reading much of John 7 is like reading a really controversial post on Facebook or a comment thread on a YouTube video.
People are coming from all over the place as they weigh in on Jesus, much of it under their breath out of fear, some of it out loud. Everyone is trying to find the angle on Jesus, and everyone has an opinion. And once again, many of those opinions are based on popular assumptions about the Messiah –
who he would be,
what he would do,
where he would come from.
Jesus simply didn’t fit the mold.
Everyone knew where he was from, and there was nothing Messianic about it. Hadn’t Micah said Bethlehem was where the Messiah would come from? And yet they all knew full well that this Jesus was from Nazareth in Galilee. It just didn’t add up!
It was confusion that Jesus could have helped clear up with a simple relating of his birth story as told in Matthew and Luke. But that’s not what he does. He speaks to deeper levels as he points to the reality that all the God experts, both among the common people and the educated elite were clueless.
God seems to delight in defying our expectations.
It’s almost as if he waits for us to build a box just so he can show us how he can move all around it.
We would do well to add to Paul’s word “untraceable” the ancient saying by Augustine:
Si comprehenderis non est Deus = “If you understand it, it’s not God.”
It’s not surprising that such an untraceable, untamable reality was so threatening that some felt a strong compulsion to arrest and confine him on the spot.
He threatens us too – and leaves us all with the challenge of either trying to seize and control Him – or to be seized by Him; to join the crowd with our own posted comment in the comment thread, or to be so captivated by Him that we are left with no comment at all,
but only awe.
When it comes to Jesus, how much does your own inner world find its reflection in this divided world of Jesus’ audience in Jerusalem? When it comes to God, are you split and at odds with yourself and with Him, or are you passionately engaged and committed? What has made the difference for you?
Abba, calm the mixed chorus of voices and opinions within and without. Tune my heart to yours, and hearing your voice, let me find peace amidst all contradictions as I drink you in. Through Jesus.