Friday, September 5, 2008

Why Do You or Don't You Believe Jesus Was the Messiah? | Carl's Blogged Bible Study--John 7

"My Friend Ivan..."

The name Ivan is of Slavic/Russian origin. It is a transliteration of the Hebrew name, John. In seminary, John became my favorite book of the Bible as I muddled through the unique and precarious balance of divinity and humanity in the fourth gospel (Check out Thompson's, The Humanity of Jesus in the Fourth Gospel). I've discussed this here and there in recent posts, but in review of this chapter, in short fashion, I want to point out the humanity of the humans in John.

The seventh chapter of John comprises a Jesus the Christ. Keep in mind the Jews had just experienced a short breath of freedom from Greek kings before the Romans subjugated the known world (practically). Without going into a detailed history lesson, the Jews (particularly in Palestine--remember the diaspora) were anxiously anticipating the arrival of a messiah who would free them from Roman rule.

***Let me insert here a suggestion: Michael White's, From Jesus to Christianity. This book unravels the history from the Maccabean Revolt up through Christ. It is my opinion that anyone who calls themselves a Christian should be familiar with the socio-political condition in which Jesus Christ was birthed***

But Jesus was not the only messiah figure floating around at the time. There was Simon (4BC)--a slave of Herod who rebelled, and Athronges (4BC), Judas of Galilee, a Zealot (6AD) just to name a few. Many Jews believe that Menachem Mendel Schneerson (1902-1994) was the messiah, despite the fact he himself thought of himself as the one who would prepare the way for the true messiah.

Anyway, read through John 7. Listen to what the multitudes are saying. They all had a strong premonition that a messiah may have been walking among them, but which one was the right one? Davidic lineage, birthplace, and signs and wonders were brought up. Many believed, but most did not. I love reading this chapter. I take pity on the confused people in this chapter. They were trying so hard to decipher the truth!

And I have to ask myself...were I Jew living in Palestine who sat in the temple listening to the teachings of Jesus, weighing the evidence, listinening to the advice of my spiritual leaders and my peers...would I have believed that Jesus was the Messiah?

It is MUCH easier to believe that Jesus is the messiah here in America in 2008 AD than it was to in Judea in 28AD. It is much easier to believe in a figure from the past than the man standing in front of you, especially when others are making the same claims as him.

I do believe that Jesus was the Messiah...but why? I could spout off the historical evidence, the traditions of the Church, liturgy, etc. I could reference the scriptures of the Old Testament. I could regurgitate lectures from my professors. When it comes down to it I cannot absolutely tell anyone why I believe in Christ, I just do. Perhaps it is experiential, but I VERY rarely feel goosebumps; that is, the supernatural doesnot overtake my emotions that often. Like I said I just do, it is just a deep subconscious feeling. I guess it's faith.

If you were in the temple that day, would you have believed? Why do you believe today? Why don't you believe today?


jason said...

Great post! I struggled with the question of weather I would believe if I was in the temple and honestly I don't know if I would.

My belief in Christ today is best summed up by C.S. Lewis..

³I am trying here to prevent anyone from saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him [Jesus Christ]: "I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept his claim to be God."

That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said wouldnot be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic -- on a level with a man who says he is a poached egg -- or else he would be the Devil of Hell.

You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is,the Son of God,: or else a madman or something worse .... You can shut him up for fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon; or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that option open to us. He did not intend to.²

nate said...

Thanks for the comment Jason...I love that quote from Lewis. That is interesting point to make...that Jesus claimed to be God. None of the other messiahs I mentioned made such a claim.

If you like Lewis, you must read Chesterton, the man Lewis called upon for insight and inspiration.

Is this Jason Smithers?

James said...

I'd have to say Jason nailed it. It's impossible to follow that comment. Good discussion, guys!

Anonymous said...

"And I have to ask myself...were I Jew living in Palestine who sat in the temple listening to the teachings of Jesus, weighing the evidence, listinening to the advice of my spiritual leaders and my peers...would I have believed that Jesus was the Messiah?"

Nate I have asked this question many times... The thing that gets me is the scripture that Jesus used , the Jews at the time should have known. You would think they would put 2 and 2 together.

Wonderful post brother...

Peace and Love

Michelle said...

Great, Nate!

To wonder if I would have believed must conclude it is up to me. The only answer I have: I was chosen before the foundation of the earth to be found in Him...and I did not choose Him, but He chose me...and He won't lose any of the sheep the Father gave Him.

So I guess I would have believed.

Thank you, Nate.

I know I'm His, not because of anything I've done, but because of what He did.

darla said...

Good thoughts. I was thinking about whether it is easier now or not to believe..I am not sure either is easy. Jesus said to Thomas...Blessed is he who believes and does not see...I think that is us.

I also felt badly for the people who seemed to want to know the truth, but we easily led by people who seemed to have another agenda. HEY it still sounds the same as today! LOL I don't know why I can't get away from that. Peace, have a great day..glad to see you on lin, and still lifting you all to the Father!

nate said...

@Michelle, I totally respect that opinion...but interpret that passage a little differently...less deterministic. I see God as having chosen ALL mankind, some just reject that choosing. Not that I am thinking pragmatically, but a non-believer may say, "so you were chosen and not me, because I do not believe...what a jerk your God is!"

I actually almost put that verse into this post!

Michelle said...

Yeah, Nate. I never would entertain those scriptures before. It didn't make any sense to me. It still doesn't make sense to me, but it's there. I have no authority to leave it out.

When dealing with those who have not surrendered to Him yet, I do tell them, He calls all to come. For He did. I can't determine who those will's all up to Him.

Blessings to you!

annie said...

Good thoughts, Nate. Would I have believed? Hmmm... I don't know. I think, like Corrie ten Boom, "In God's kingdom, there are no 'what-ifs.'" Some conjecture is profitless. Not that I'm saying this is ... but I do think it's an unanswerable question. The only moments I can answer for are being lived right now. Would I have believed if I were born in the slums? In a palace? To different parents? In a communist country? We can only conjecture ... but there is really no answer. We can only know what life we have led. I do think that the applicable challenge (do we believe Him today when we hear His voice) is wonderful, and definitely the soul-searching one.

Loved Jason's quote too. Lewis just had a way with words ...

darla said...

Nate..are you off line again?? hahaha like you can anwer me if you are? praying for you...and your family...any news yet?? or prospects??