‘When the crowds heard him say this, some of them declared, “Surely this man is the Prophet we’ve been expecting.” Others said, “He is the Messiah.” Still others said, “But he can’t be! Will the Messiah come from Galilee? For the Scriptures clearly state that the Messiah will be born of the royal line of David, in Bethlehem, the village where King David was born.” So the crowd was divided about him. Some even wanted him arrested, but no one laid a hand on him. (John 7:40-44)
Read: Ecclesiastes 7:1 – 11:6
Relate: As a general rule there are two topics that are guaranteed to ignite a good debate: religion and politics. You could stick two random people in a room and as long as both are in the mood to talk just about any topic is safe. If the conversation seems to steer itself towards religion or politics I can guarantee there will be a debate. What is worse, quite often one of the two if not both, will really have no clue what they are talking about. They have fully formed opinions but it is based on poor data, misunderstood truths, and the vague recollection of information passed on by their favorite pundit years before. I kid you not I heard someone say to me in all seriousness, “Obama’s health care plan will create death panels that will make sure nobody is allowed any health care after they turn seventy.” No argument or evidence will disabuse him of this firmly entrenched piece of misinformation taken as rock solid truth. He heard it on Glen Beck, or Rush Limbaugh, or some other such nonsense and they would never lie to him.
The crowd in Jerusalem reminds me of this type of debate. Everybody has an opinion but nobody has the facts. “He can’t be the Messiah because He is from Galilee.” Well, first you should know your scripture. In Isaiah, the same chapter that gives us this famous Messianic promise: “For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity.” (Isaiah 9:6-7) begins with this: “Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory.” (Isaiah 9:1)
In addition to knowing your scripture better, if you’re going to debate about Jesus, perhaps you should find out a little more about the man. Yes, He was raised in Galilee, but before that He came from Egypt. He was living there with His parents when they had to flee from Herod who had tried to kill all the little boys who had been born in… wait for it… Bethlehem. Boom. Know your facts or shut your yapper.
React: That didn’t happen then and it seldom happens now. The more disconnected an opinion is with reality the more firmly entrenched it seems to be held. Nobody likes to be wrong and most will hold tightly to a lie before openly admitting that they are. This is especially true when it comes to God. When talking to an atheist, one of my first questions now is, “Could you describe to me this god you don’t believe exists?” Most of the time I will find we are in agreement. There could possibly be a god like that. But the god they don’t believe in and the true God of the universe are often as different as could possibly be.
Jesus is who He is and no amount of debate, misinformed opinions, and half truths based on wrong assumptions will change that fact. It doesn’t matter how widely around Jerusalem these “facts” were circulated back then. Or today. God is who He is and no amount of wishful thinking, misguided ideas, or intellectual gymnastics can alter the reality of our great and loving and powerful and glorious and holy and kind and just God.
God, help me to speak Your truth. If I do not know something, give me the moral courage to say so. Help me to withhold judgment on things I know little about until I have learned more. Give me the wisdom to discern the difference between truth and lie. Above all help me to know You more and to boldly share what I have learned. Even more, help me to live and to model Your truth to the world around me. When the world sees me, let their opinion of You increase.