Journal Entry // April 17, 2022
Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him? But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.”John 7:48-49 ESV
This is always one of the passages that brings a bit of concern to my mind as I read. It’s difficult reading these passages about the leaders and Pharisees because they are a lot like me at times. As I read these accounts, I see my hard heart being represented in their decisions and statements to Jesus and about Jesus. These are the men who spent their entire life studying the Scriptures and desiring to be obedient to the Law of God found therein. These men who knew the Scriptures backwards and forwards were not only missing the Christ set before them, they were actively working against him. They were missing the very one that the Scriptures themselves pointed to.
The leaders and Pharisees had developed a deep pride and arrogance among themselves and had built a tower that they lived in to look down upon any others. They were so self-righteous that they despised the very people they were meant to serve and lead. They felt that they could not be questioned about the Scriptures. They felt their knowledge and authority gave them not only privilege but understanding without error. There was no room in their heart and mind to look at the application of Scripture from a different perspective. There was no room to really sit back and evaluate their understanding and be open to change. Open to the Spirit of God teaching them.
I see this at times in my own life and the life of those who believe as I do. It is so tempting to believe that I am a part of the “true” believers and that if you are not a part of our group, then there should be suspicion and even putting down of others. We want to put a label on others and we want to put them in a box, because it is much easier to write them off as, “those ignorant other people who don’t really understand the truth that I do.” We lose so much in this attitude. There is no compassion. There is no humility. There is no grace and mercy. There are none of the attributes of the Spirit of God flowing out.
To be sure, I must guard carefully the truths of God’s word. I must stand strong and firm in the convictions of Christ. Yet, I must never wield my understanding of God’s word as a weapon against others. Was Jesus angry at times with what he saw? Was he challenging the rulers with their weak understanding of the Scriptures? Of course he was. He was the truly righteous one. Unfortunately, I wrap my indignation up in sin and not righteousness. I take it all so personal and I don’t want to believe that I could be wrong or misunderstand a key element of Scripture. But I obviously do all the time!
So what is the point of all this? Humility… Compassion… Gentleness… Grace… Mercy… Patience… These are the characteristics that mark a man of God. I must be diligent and defend the truth of Scripture against heresy. I must fight hard for this, but I must also remember that this person is not my enemy. No, this person who disagrees with me is made in the image of God and needs Jesus just as much as I need Jesus. How I treat this person is just as important as how I defend the gospel truth. For it may be that God has brought this person into my life to teach me! I must keep examining my heart. Keep searching God’s word and applying it to my heart. I must continue to abide with Jesus every moment of every day. I must live as Micah 6:8 encourages, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”