“Extra! Extra! Read all about it!”
There was a time when people had to wait for the presses to find out the news of the day. If something big happened, it “made the headlines,” literally. Don’t you love those old movies where they show consecutive close-ups of newspaper headlines to tell part of the story? There was a sense of trust in the news media, an expectation that they would tell you the truth objectively.
Sadly, that’s not the case anymore. Now we have a non-stop stream of digital information from every kind of source imaginable. Anyone can publish “news” and one of the biggest cultural controversies that has come to light the past two years is whether or not the news media is trustworthy at all. If you want the truth, you practically have to be an investigative reporter yourself. In a world of propaganda directed by powerful people behind-the-scenes who are motivated by greed, we’d better be discerning about what we read.
I was reminded how important it is to find the truth while reading John 7 this morning. As Jesus continues to make public appearances, to heal on the Sabbath intentionally, to bring attention to sin and challenge the religious leaders, the controversy surrounding Him is heating up.
The crowds who are following and watching and listening have different opinions about Jesus. All opinion is rooted in what one believes is true. In this case, their views about Jesus are directly related to the level of knowledge they have about the Old Testament scriptures that prophesied a coming Messiah.
John 7:25-27 – So some of the people of Jerusalem were saying, “Is this not the man whom they are seeking to kill? Look, He is speaking publicly, and they are saying nothing to Him. The rulers do not really know that this is the Christ, do they? However, we know where this man is from; but whenever the Christ may come, no one knows where He is from.”
John 7:40-43 – Some of the people therefore, when they heard these words, were saying, “This certainly is the Prophet.” Others were saying, “This is the Christ.” Still others were 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?” So a division occurred in the crowd because of Him.
Three kinds of people are seen in these verses. First, some people depend on the opinions of leaders. They watch the actions and reactions of those in charge, trusting they are being led in the right direction. They assumed that since the religious and political leaders were allowing Jesus a measure of freedom to speak and teach, they must have “inside” knowledge about Him. After all, their leaders wouldn’t lead them the wrong way, would they?
Other people based their opinion of Jesus on information that simply wasn’t true. The scriptures did indeed prophesy where the Messiah would come from. They had been taught wrongly and failed to look at the Scriptures themselves.
Still, others had a working knowledge of the scriptures; they knew the Messiah would be of the line of David and come from Bethlehem. But instead of investigating Jesus’ birth and history for themselves, they assumed He came from Galilee and dismissed Him as being the promised Christ.
They missed the Savior right in front of them because they failed to investigate the truth for themselves.
I wonder how many people today dismiss Jesus because of something they’ve been told that is absolutely not true. They were “handed down” a version of empty religion. They were influenced by parents, friends, relatives, teachers, college professors, or religious leaders who also rejected Jesus, and assumed these influences had their best interests at heart. Or they were given just enough scripture to confuse them – a little bit of truth without the whole context of God’s Word. They believe they are worshipping and following God but have missed the gospel.
There are places in the world where God’s Word isn’t available, but my guess is, everyone reading this blog has full access to the Bible. We can “fact check” all the influences and teachings that have shaped our worldview and faith beliefs with the original, authoritative, perfect Word of God. We can decide who Jesus is based on His own words, His own actions, and the eye-witness testimony of those who walked with Him.
Ignorance is not bliss.
Our enemy, Satan, is a great deceiver. He is the prince of this power of the air, and he delights in obscuring and confusing the simple message of the gospel. The way to salvation is clear and available. All the crowds had to do was sit at Jesus’ feet and hear the truth. We, too, have that same opportunity, and there is no excuse for missing Jesus.
Who are you listening to? Where do you get your information about such important topics? Consider carefully. Ask God for discernment because the answer will affect your eternal destiny.