John calls Jesus the Word. In his phrasing, it wasn’t just any word or words. Jesus was (is) the actual physical embodiment of God’s words. It’s…strange. It’s…incomprehensible. It’s…impossible. It’s…faith.
When Jesus speaks, we’re to listen. That can sometimes be hard. In fact, a lot of people throughout history have had a hard time listening to Jesus.
Today, we hear a lot of people say, “I like Jesus just fine, I just don’t like his followers.” There is some truth in that, as we followers are broken just like everyone else.
However, often that phrase (or a similar one) is used to shut down the conversation. Many Christians will try to stop the conversation there and try to defend themselves (and/or other Christians). Just like that, the conversation has changed.
This is not to say such people are purposely manipulating things for that. It’s just that when we are defending/protecting our deeper selves, we will do things we don’t think of ourselves capable of.
On the contrary, people such as the Pharisees were very methodical in their approach. They didn’t like Jesus’ followers. Of course, it seems their reasoning was either they (His followers) were being deceived, or because they (the Pharisees) weren’t the ones being followed. They went for Jesus to draw his followers away.
In this particular story, Jesus (the Word) was attacking or questioning the Word. Yes, we could say he was questioning the interpretation. In fact, that is a great point. However, there are Christians today who refute questions like Jesus’ because they challenge the Word.
This is not a small thing. People question the Scriptures (the human undertaking of the Word) to this day. In Jesus’ time, it was actually part of the rabbinical school of thought. Not only did they not think it was dishonorable, but the rhetorical questioning and answers were also part of how Jews understood the faith.
If Jesus felt comfortable questioning himself (yes, this is a stretch, but a fun one), then why do we freeze when the Word is questioned? When someone says, “I like Jesus, but…” Let’s agree that we like Jesus, too. Then let’s talk about Jesus. We establish common ground (we like Jesus). Then we can talk about Jesus.
This doesn’t mean, sadly, that the person is about to be saved. Not by a long shot. What it does mean is that we can learn about what they think is great about Jesus, and what they know about Jesus. The conversation may last years. Jesus and the Word can handle it.
※ Prayer ※
God, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, and a light on my path.” (Psalm 119:105) Thank you for giving it to me to learn your story and of your desire and love for me. Grant me the wisdom and courage to share your word with others, especially those who do not know you yet. Amen.
※ Questions ※
1) Do you think you have to defend God’s Word? Why or why not?
2) How do/would you defend all the translations that we have of the Bible?
3) What is your understanding of why we (the Church at large) consider the 66 books of the Bible as the True scriptures, and not others?