Tuesday

18 July 2017

“The one who sent me is true” (v. 28)

Psalm: Psalm 37:12-29


Background

Today's passage continues a narrative that began at the chapter of chapter 7. Jesus had come down to Jerusalem, even though he was something of a divisive figure among his contemporaries (John 7:12). Some figures in authority even wish to kill him (John 7:1), seemingly because he has claimed that God is his ather (John 5:18). Despite this danger, Jesus has boldly gone to the most public space in the city, the temple, and spoken openly about his divine authority to teach and to heal (John 7:14-18). The crowd are amazed at his learning but also openly question his authority to speak in the way he does. Our passage today continues that dialogue between Jesus and the crowd.

Much of the debate in today's passage centres on the question of whether or not Jesus is the Messiah (verses 26-27, 31). The term comes from Hebrew 'masiah', which is translated into Greek as 'christos',from which we get the term 'Christ'. Literally, it means one who has been anointed, as David was by the prophet Samuel when God chose him to be king (1 Samuel 16:13). By the time of Jesus, though, the term had acquired a huge amount of additional significance and meaning. It had come to refer to a person (or persons) who would somehow liberate Israel. This might mean politically and militarily from Roman domination, or it might signal the end of the world as people knew it, or something completely different. The Messiah might be a royal figure, or a priestly one, or perhaps Moses brought back to life. The debate and confusion amongst the crowd in today's verses reflects this lack of consensus, while displaying something of the 'Messianic fervour' of the time - the popular belief that the Messiah would be coming soon.

Towards the end of today's passage, the crowd became confused as to what Jesus meant when he said he was going somewhere they would not be able to find him (verse 34). We believe Jesus was referring to his ultimate ascension to heaven (Acts 1:6-11). However, they wondered if it meant that he was going to one of the many Jewish communities that had sprung up around the Mediterranean, in the Greek-speaking world (verse 35).


To Ponder

  • How can you recognise someone who has been truly sent by God, and speaks on God's behalf?
  • What sort of Messiah was Jesus?
  • What can be learnt from the rejection of Jesus by his contemporaries?


Bible notes author:
  The Revd Geoffrey Farrar

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