Some of the people who lived in Jerusalem started to ask each other, “Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill? But here he is, speaking in public, and they say nothing to him. Could our leaders possibly believe that he is the Messiah? But how could he be? For we know where this man comes from. When the Messiah comes, he will simply appear; no one will know where he comes from.” (John 7:25-27)
Read: Proverbs 17:1 – 19:29
Relate: I am not a Mets fan, but that does not mean I would even consider turning down the opportunity to go to my first ever Mets game at their home field. Such an opportunity occurred earlier this year and I found myself waiting for a friend about thirty minutes before the gates opened. As great as the game was, I think just being among that crowd was one of the greatest parts of my experience. I love to listen to the talk of the crowd before going into a ball game.
In such a crowd you basically have three different groups of people interacting. You have the casual fan. They could probably tell you the names of a couple superstars but don’t really know much beyond that. Then you have the serious fans who come from out of town. They know the team, the stats, the trends, etc. The greatest fans of all are the insiders. These are the locals who know the true ins and outs of a team because it saturates every aspect of their life. They talk it at the supermarket and the barber shop and just walking down the street. They hear and participate in the talk all day every day. They are saturated in it. They live it and love sharing, gaining, and debating all that knowledge with others who have the audacity to think they know just as much or, God forbid, even more. They don’t just know the team. They know what the third base coach had for breakfast and how that is going to effect how aggressively he will have the baserunners advancing. I think I learned more in the fifteen to thirty minutes I had to listen to those insiders than I ever could through a year’s worth of Sports Illustrated articles.
John 7:25-27 is a glimpse into the knowledge and conversation of such “insiders”. These were not foreigners coming into the city for the festival. They were not the casual people for whom religion and prophesy does not really mean much. Such people would be few and far between in Jerusalem. These guys had the inside scoop. They lived and breathed it. They talked religion in Jerusalem as “religiously” as people from the Bronx talk Yankees, those in Dallas talk Cowboys, and those from Tuscaloosa “Roll Tide” into every conversation. They actually met with some of the scribes and Pharisees at the local bar and grill (although there would be no pork roast there). They knew what these guys were thinking. At least they thought they did.
Lately, things have been a little confused. Those religious leaders who were so adamant about having Jesus killed seemed to now be giving Him a free reign. Could it possibly be that they have changed their minds? Nah. Even if they did, we won’t. We know where this Jesus guy came from and when the “real” Messiah comes, nobody’s gonna know where he’s from.
React: Even the most radical insiders can get it wrong. It happens in sports all the time and it happened to the Jerusalem Jews. As much as they thought they knew it all, in reality they had no idea what was really going on. True knowledge doesn’t come through an accumulation of facts. It is not read about. It does not come through conversation or debate. You do not get it through osmosis no matter how often you walk through the doors of your local church, synagogue, temple, or mosque. True knowledge of the Holy One can only come through encounter.
Many of these jerusalem Jews heard Jesus. They knew the ins and outs of what everyone else was saying. They thought they had accumulated all the relevant facts but they had not truly met Him. Have you? Have I? When was the last time we showed up not just to watch, opened up not just to read, and sung out not just to be heard? When was the last time we actually, intentionally, entered into the presence of the Living Lord?
God, I don’t want to just be an insider. I want to dive in. Let me not just accumulate knowledge. Give me more of You. Don’t let me just talk about You, let me speak out the life You call forth. Let me encounter You. And let all who meet me encounter You through me.