by Pastor Matt Bishop
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No-one ever spoke the way this man does (John 7:46).
For my 11th birthday, my dear parents gave me a Lego fire station set. A friend came around after school to help celebrate my big day. I remember looking at him incredulously as he rolled his eyes at me for following the Lego instruction book. He confidently declared he only ever builds straight off the picture on the front of the box. I remember thinking, how is that even possible to get the set built properly? There are always blocks that can’t be seen in the picture. Who would want to compromise the structure or not get the most out of every special facet?
It seems that many people, Christians included, take a ‘go with the picture on the box’ approach to Jesus. This is rather than getting to know what Jesus himself has really said about who he is and what he has done. We risk ending up with a caricature of him not made in his true image. Indeed, we can miss more than facets by having our whole faith compromised.
Just one reason today’s text matters is because people regularly tell me they are not into attending church or God or Christianity, mostly because of some reason not to do with Jesus himself. For example, cover-ups in the church over moral failures, a teaching out of sync with the world, or a supposed lack of depth compared with their favourite pop-Christianity writer. While the issues definitely need sympathetic unpacking, it strikes me that what’s most needed in all this is to get back to Jesus because ‘no-one ever spoke the way this man does’.
Those words were uttered by the religious police in their self-defence for failing to arrest Jesus. Even if they were not originally meant in support of Jesus, ironically, they contain a profound truth and reminder about where we will find the real Christ and what is really important in Christianity. They also remind us of the worth of going back to Jesus himself as the authoritative source. As Jesus said a few verses earlier, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them’ (John 7:37). Is it time for you to read through the gospels and hear Jesus for himself?
Thank you, Holy Spirit, that through Jesus’ words, you show us he is the Christ (John 7:41a). Keep us going back to Jesus’ own words of life, especially when we start to look for excuses to disengage. Keep us testifying, gently and lovingly, to all who have focused elsewhere to go back to the one that no-one has ever spoken like – Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith! In his name, and because of his promises, we pray. Amen.