By Caleb Faires
When your neighbor asks, “How are you?” Do you answer truthfully? Do you want to? When you ask the same of your neighbor, do you really want to know? For many of us, we only want to know when things are going well.
I recently shared with a friend some of our family’s struggles. With one of our sons, we’ve wrestled through ongoing difficulties, trauma, and dangerous behaviors. I trust that God is doing a work in our son’s life, and in our own hearts as well, but for the present, things are still rough. When I share this story, I find people desperately want to hear that everything’s getting better. It’s hard to hear “things are worse” or “nothing has changed.” These are uncomfortable truths, and when we listen to them, we want to modify them.
So is it surprising that when Christ came declaring the truth, even His own people resisted what He had to say?
When Jesus, our perfect Prophet, speaks, do we listen? When He testifies that our works are evil, will we believe? Like the Pharisees, we tend to respond negatively to criticism.
Christ declares truth, and the world hates Him for it (John 7:7). Christ comes from the Father, and the world seeks to reason away this truth (vv.27–30). Christ speaks authoritatively, and the world rages at His authority (vv.47–49). Christ dwells among us, and the world seeks to cast Him out, or kill Him (vv.1, 41–43).
Our fear of the truth is often rooted in the notion that truth is can be bad news. In a fallen world, the first part is indeed bad news. We’ve sinned, and the curse is real. But like the Pharisees, fear of facing the bad news often keeps us from seeing beyond it to the good news.
On the first days of the feast, Jesus reasoned with the crowd, but on the last day of the feast, He stood up and cried out. The bad news had to be faced, but the good news merited a resounding shout: to all who thirst, Christ offers living water!
The wasteland of the fall, the weight of the curse, and the truth of our own guilt are uncomfortable realities to face. But if we receive Christ as He comes to us, then we find every reason to celebrate (Leviticus 23:39,41).
This is Christ’s resounding declaration: I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh! If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink, and out of his heart will flow rivers of living water! (Joel 2:28, John 7:37–38).
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One thought on "The Unlikely Messiah"
“But like the Pharisees, fear of facing the bad news often keeps us from seeing beyond it to the good news.”
I love this phrase in the passage analysis. In the passage, the Pharisees are close-minded, prideful, and blind. They are threatened by the teachings of Jesus. However, we each are like the Pharisees in our worst moments. This is a historical event, but it’s a warning to present day readers.
Jesus predicts his own future death and resurrection in this passage. With the benefit on hindsight, we know that this will be fulfilled. The audience did not see the full picture. Today, we too my not see the full picture.
Jesus also teaches not to have a literal, rigid, interpretation of the law and customs. Instead, Jesus tells us to identify the underlying virtues and truths and to apply those. “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”
Ultimately, this chapter should humble us but also give us hope. We don’t see the full picture, but we can trust the One who does. He is merciful, loving, and satisfying.
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