Saturday, February 14, 2009

Prophet or Messiah? Bible or Experience?

When they heard these words, some in the crowd said, "This is really the prophet." Others said, "This is the Messiah." But some asked, "Surely the Messiah does not come from Galilee, does he? Has not the scripture said that the Messiah is descended from David and come from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?" So there was a division in the crowd because of him. Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him. Then the temple police went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, "Why did you not arrest him?" The police answered, "Never has anyone spoken like this!" Then the Pharisees replied, "Surely you have not been deceived too, have you? Has any one of the authorities or of the Pharisees believed in him? But this crowd, which does not know the law - they are accursed." Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus before, and who was one of them, asked, "Our law does not judge people without first giving them a hearing to find out what they are doing, does it?" They replied, "Surely you are not also from Galilee are you? Search and you will see that no prophet is to arise from Galilee." John 7:40-44 NRSV

I find it very eye-opening to see that those who know the Bible and study the scripture more than anyone else in their religion do not see Jesus as even a prophet, much less the Messiah. For those who claimed scripture as their sole authority, Jesus was not the savior. The Bible said it - no prophet or Messiah is from Galilee. That settles it.


United Methodists such as myself believe in four sources of authority: scripture, tradition, reason and experience. However, I know for a fact that many of us still claim scripture above the other three. In reading this passage of scripture, it seems to me that neglecting things like reason and experience may mean that we miss out on God's will BIG TIME! [And what do we do with scripture making us question scripture, anyway?] This is exactly what happens to the religious authorities. Most of the crowds and the police seem to regard Jesus as special; whether prophet or messiah, they have never experienced anyone like him! And Nicodemus has been secretly wrestling with Jesus' message: he has been trying to use his reason.

What about you? Is scripture where you place your sole trust? Do you truly embrace tradition, reason and experience asBold well? Be careful - you just might miss out on God's will and message like the Pharisees.

God, you have given us not only the Bible but our traditions, reason and experience as well. Help us to claim all that you have given us in order to see and know all that you want to give to us without limitation or denial. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2009 Amelia G. Sims

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