THE COMMON PEOPLE
There came a time in the life and ministry of Jesus that He found it not safe to abide in Judea, as the Jewish leaders now considered His teachings to be a threat. As John’s Gospel
tells us: “After these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him.” The feast of tabernacles was approaching and Jesus’ brothers urged Him to go to Jerusalem for the feast and declare Himself to all the people. They said, “Show yourself to the world.” Of course the reason for this challenge was that they didn’t believe in Him. But after His brothers had left for Jerusalem He also went secretly. The Jewish leaders expected Him to show up and hoped to arrest Him but when they didn’t see him they asked, “Where is he?” John 7:11.
There was much discussion and arguing among the common people about him; whether He was the Christ or just what. But then in the middle of the feast Jesus came out of hiding, entered the temple fearlessly, and began teaching. In the middle of His teaching he challenged the Jewish leaders openly, asking, “Why go ye about to kill me?” They denied any such plot and accused him of being possessed of a demon. But many of the common people asked if this wasn’t he whom the Sanhedrin, the leaders of the Jewish government, sought to kill. They were amazed that Jesus spoke boldly and the leaders did nothing to stop Him. Then they asked, “Do the rulers know indeed that this is the very Christ?”
This question, and other very similar questions are yet being asked today by the people in the pew concerning their religious leaders. But this question is an invalid question. It was then, it is now. The question is not, what do the rulers know but it is: what do you know? And the question today is not what does your pastor know, or what does the superintendent(s) know or what does the bishop know or what does the college of cardinals know or what does the pope know. What do you know?
President Harry S. Truman once had a sign on his desk in the oval office that stated, “The buck stops here.” Write that sign on your heart! The scripture tells us that, “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgement.” We will all stand before the judgement seat of Christ, and when we do God will not inquire as to what your leaders knew or believed and taught you. You will find the “buck” on your desk. What do you know, what do you believe, and what have you done about it?
In this world, in this day, we are barraged with information, and misinformation. The good news is that God has given you, or wants to give you, His Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, who will enable you to discern the information from the misinformation. The Apostle John, in his first letter, spoke of this by saying, “ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.” He went on to say that, “the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you.” Very long before John, the prophet Isaiah addressed the issue by saying, “and an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.” Who are these “wayfaring men” that will not err in the way of truth? They are the common people, the ones setting in the church pews.
Jesus warned the people to, “Beware of the scribes...” Mark 12:38. These scribes were their religious teachers. “Beware of your teachers” sounds like a simple enough instruction and should be easy to follow. Trouble is, it has great ramifications. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” He also warned us to not get the idea that He, “the prince of peace” had come to bring peace on earth. Indeed He said that He, the truth, would divide a son and his father, the mother against her daughter, and so forth. He put it bluntly: “A man’s foes shall be they of his own household.” Indeed the truth may set you at odds with your family members and it may set you at odds with your religious leaders and your fellow church members.
But we like peace, we like to fit in, we like to be part of things. Jesus also knew this and thus he said, “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” If you love your religious affiliations more that you love Christ then you cannot be His disciple.
The truth got Jesus crucified. Jesus beckons us to follow Him. Of course that means bearing a cross. Very often this cross means suffering the ramifications of accepting the truth as God, the Holy Spirit, brings it to our attention. Those ramifications may be that the truth revealed to us may not be that which is accepted in our religious group. Then we are faced with the question: Do we love the truth more than our religious affiliations? The temptation will be to try to hide behind the question: What do our religious leaders believe concerning this? But that won’t be the question God asks you when you stand before Him in the judgement.
To Be Continued