May. 13, 2017

Has not the Scripture said that the Christ ...

John 7:31-53 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible

But many of the crowd believed in Him; and they were saying, “When the Christ comes, He will not perform more signs than those which this man has, will He?”

32 The Pharisees heard the crowd muttering these things about Him, and the chief priests and the Pharisees sent officers to seize Him. 33 Therefore Jesus said, “For a little while longer I am with you, then I go to Him who sent Me. 34 You will seek Me, and will not find Me; and where I am, you cannot come.” 35 The Jews then said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we will not find Him? He is not intending to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks, is He? 36 What is this statement that He said, ‘You will seek Me, and will not find Me; and where I am, you cannot come’?”

37 Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” 39 But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

40 Some of the people therefore, when they heard these words, were saying, “This certainly is the Prophet.” 41 Others were saying, “This is the Christ.” Still others were saying, “Surely the Christ is not going to come from Galilee, is He? 42 Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the descendants of David, and from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” 43 So a division occurred in the crowd because of Him. 44 Some of them wanted to seize Him, but no one laid hands on Him.

45 The officers then came to the chief priests and Pharisees, and they said to them, “Why did you not bring Him?” 46 The officers answered, “Never has a man spoken the way this man speaks.” 47 The Pharisees then answered them, “You have not also been led astray, have you? 48 No one of the rulers or Pharisees has believed in Him, has he? 49 But this crowd which does not know the Law is accursed.” 50 Nicodemus (he who came to Him before, being one of them) said to them, 51 “Our Law does not judge a man unless it first hears from him and knows what he is doing, does it?” 52 They answered him, “You are not also from Galilee, are you? Search, and see that no prophet arises out of Galilee.” 53 Everyone went to his home.


In today’s text we see that there were questions which arose regarding whether Jesus could be the Christ, the Messiah because of where He came from. First we see some of the people saying:  “Surely the Christ is not going to come from Galilee, is He? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the descendants of David, and from Bethlehem, the village where David was?”     Then the Pharisees themselves say:   “Search, and see that no prophet arises out of Galilee.”    There were a few problems with their argument. First they had overlooked a prophetic reference in Isaiah 9.     Verses 6-7 are familiar often quoted verses regarding the coming Christ. They say:  For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder,  and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,  Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace  there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore.  The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
   That prophetic portion of scripture though begins with a less familiar verse 1, which says:  But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.    The Messiah would indeed be born in Bethlehem, out of the line of David, but Isaiah also prophesied that He would minister in the region of Galilee. We need to guard against the mistake of misinterpreting scripture because we take a limited view, only holding to the verses which are familiar, or the ones which support our view. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says:  All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;  so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.   There is much debate, even among those who are Christians about whether God’s word should be taken literally as truth and fact or whether the fact that it was written and translated by men means that its interpretation should be subject to our own arbitrary judgment of what is applicable and true. Paul takes a better view, saying that all scripture is inspired by God. There may indeed be some human influence in the writing and the translation, but the inspiration is from God through the Holy Spirit. That’s why it is important that we use both natural, scholarly means to interpret scripture and also rely on the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Who better to teach us the true meaning of scripture than the One who inspired it? We need to look at all scripture, the whole word of God. We need to look at it in both the context of the time, place and circumstance in which it was written and also the context of the rest of scripture because God does not change. We also need to rely on the influence and guidance of the Holy Spirit not only on our own limited knowledge or the knowledge of others.      

It was not only the Pharisees limited view of scripture though which caused them to wrongly judge who Jesus was. It was also that they judged Jesus only by what they knew, not by the whole truth. We know that Jesus was in fact born in Bethlehem and it was because of Mary and Joseph’s connection to the line of David that they traveled there, to Bethlehem, when He was born. We too err when we judge only by what we see and know with our natural eyes and human understanding. In the text there were those who relied on what they had seen and experienced, the miracles and signs of Jesus. The text begins saying:   But many of the crowd believed in Him; and they were saying, “When the Christ comes, He will not perform more signs than those which this man has, will He?”   We should not judge others by where they came from, their heritage, the way they look, the way they talk etc. But it is a mistake to believe that we are not to judge anything at all. In Matthew 7:15-20 Jesus says “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.”     We should not rely on the way people appear or present themselves but rather, not judging how things appear. We should instead inspect the fruit of their lives. Galatians 5:22-25 says: The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.   For those who are living and walking in the Spirit, this fruit should be visible in their lives. But to bear fruit is more than simply for these things to be present in our own lives. In Matthew 13:23, Jesus explains the parable of the seed and the sower, describing the effect God’s word should have on our lives.     And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.”  The fruit that is present in the life of a believer should not simply remain with them. It should also bear fruit for the kingdom of God. Our lives, our actions and our words should encourage others to live by the Spirit. In Matthew 5:14-16, Jesus says:   “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”       The light and the fruit in our lives should cause others to glorify God. God is not glorified by sin. If we will be like Jesus, our lives will be like His, a testimony of the life changing power of God.  Jesus says:  “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”     The same signs that indicated that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, will also be present in our lives to indicate that Jesus is the Messiah, if we are bearing fruit for the kingdom of God.

Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit, thank You for Your word, all of scripture inspired by You, revealing both who You the Father are and who Christ, the Messiah is. Holy Spirit guide me and fill me, that the fruit of the Spirit would both be present in my life and also be reproduced in the kingdom. Empower me to live and walk in the Spirit, that others may glorify You.    Amen.