Scoffers asked: “Surely the Christ [Messiah] is not going to come out of Galilee, is He?”

Incorrect assumptions and questions about Jesus thrived in the absence of honest searches for truth.

People were asking: Who was He, really? How did He perform such miracles? From where did His wisdom and authority come? Was He a prophet? The Messiah?

Among many things, Jesus publicly called out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of water.’” (John 7:37-38)

John 7:40-42 continues with: “Some of the people, therefore, when they heard these words, were saying, ‘This certainly is the Prophet.’ Others were saying, ‘This is the Christ.’ Still others were saying, ‘Surely the Christ is not going to come from Galilee, is He? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the descendants of David, and from Bethlehem, the village where David was?’”

Verse 43 simply states, “So a division occurred in the crowd because of Him.”

Here we are, over two thousand years later, with questions still being asked and similar divisions in place over who and what Jesus is (or was).

* * *

Many of us have access to the full revelation of who Jesus is. We can go the Bible and trace—from Genesis chapter 1 through the end of Revelation—God’s interfacings with mankind and the continuous, scarlet thread of His plan of redemption. We read how anyone can know the forgiveness of sins and have oneness with their Creator through their Creator: The Promised One, God the Son—Jesus Christ.

We have the lineage of Jesus mapped out in detail and the record of how God orchestrated His conception, birth, and years leading up to His public ministry. We can be awed at the staggering number of Old Testament prophesies of the coming Messiah which were fulfilled in Jesus.

While the people in Jesus’ day were given a tremendous number of prophesies regarding the coming Messiah, they didn’t have immediate access to all the information we freely enjoy.

However, many of them could have done their homework and been blessed with absolute clarity as to who Jesus was.

  • After four hundred years of silence, God beautifully and powerfully alerted the nation Israel to the imminent arrival of His forerunner to the Messiah. He did so in the form of John the Baptist and the stage was set; John’s ensuing message regarding Jesus as the Son of God was clear. (Luke 1:5-24; 57-80; John 1:29-30)
  • At the time of Christ’s birth (approximately six months after that of John the Baptist), the Roman authority required everyone in the Roman empire to register for a census in his ancestral city. As a descendent of King David (through Solomon), Joseph brought with him to Bethlehem his betrothed, Mary (a descendant of David through Nathan). Jesus was a descendent of David through His virgin mother and born in “the village where David was.” (Luke 2:1-5; Luke 3:23-38; Luke 2:5-7).
  • Bethlehem was only six miles from Jerusalem, the epicenter of Jewish religious society. The shepherds of Bethlehem joyfully shared with others what they saw and heard from the angelic hosts and the amazing, unprecedented events surrounding the night of Christ’s birth (Luke 2:8-18). Word of this would have spread quickly, reaching Jerusalem in short order. Thoughtful spiritual leaders who heard of it would likely be stunned. Angelic hosts proclaiming news of the Messiah? In Bethlehem?

Yet we don’t read of anyone taking the relatively short, six mile walk to Bethlehem in order to learn from the shepherds exactly what happened. There is no record of any of the religious leaders asking to be taken to the couple whose baby was found wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger just as the angels had said. Wasn’t this worthy of investigation? Of doing some homework?

  • Even though it appears no contingent of religious experts left the comforts of Jerusalem to check things out in Bethlehem, God ensured that Jesus was brought to them soon afterwards. Joseph and Mary took Him to the temple for dedication to God as required by the Mosaic law. There, in Jerusalem, God publicly affirmed this baby as being the awaited Promised One. (Luke 2:22-38)
  • Of course, things didn’t stop there. Magi would later come to Jerusalem, laden with gifts and enquiring as to the location of the Jewish King whose star had appeared at His birth, which they followed. We read that all Jerusalem was “troubled” at this news. The Roman ruler there would go on to order the execution of all males in and around Bethlehem from two years of age and under. (Matthew 2:1-18) This shocking event, prophesied in Jeremiah 31:15, would have been on almost every tongue and long stored in the memory banks of the nation.
  • Research during Christ’s public ministry would have established He was born in Bethlehem (a Messianic prophecy, Micah 5:2), was called out of Egypt (a Messianic prophecy, Hosea 11:1), and ministered in Galilee (a Messianic prophecy, Isaiah 9:1-2).

In light of these events and more, the absence of any meaningful investigation or homework on the part of those apparently dedicated to serving God and waiting for His Messiah seems incomprehensible.  

But is it?

More than once I’ve thought the spiritual leaders in Jesus’ day had no excuse for failing to recognize Him as the Son of God. Their lack of follow-up reminded me of the lame, “The dog ate my homework” excuse we may hear in jest.

In retrospect, many of the people in Jesus’ day possibly had the same challenges you and I face, such as:

  • A familiarity with certain portions of Scripture and established conclusions as to how we think everything is “going to happen”. If we aren’t careful, we can overlook other areas of God’s Word and not only miss what He is doing, but scoff at that which is holy.
  • Seemingly valid reasons for avoiding the “six mile walk” (getting out of our comfort zones and/or failing to do our homework).

I find it encouraging—despite any similarities we may have with the religious leaders who missed important opportunities to know truth—we can be ushered into the reality of knowing who Jesus is. And also rejoice to know a significant number of the religious leaders would later come to recognize and gratefully trust in Jesus as the Messiah-Savior! (Acts 2:36-41)

* * *


The “Six-Mile Walk”

Like those in Jerusalem upon hearing of the Bethlehem shepherds’ experiences, perhaps you and I have our own “six mile walks” we need to take:

  • To the Bible, for deeper study and understanding.
  • In prayer, for increased sensitivity towards God and others.
  • To that person who doesn’t yet know Jesus is willing and able to exchange the guilt and penalty of their sins for rivers of living water—from their innermost being!

* * *

One day, I hope to hear directly from the shepherds everything they saw, heard, felt, and came to understand the night or Christ’s birth—those things the leaders in Jerusalem missed. In the meantime, what do you say we encourage each other to keep learning and taking advantage of our “six-mile walk” opportunities?

June

June

People Lover. Author. Blogger. Speaker. Forgiven Much & Wild About God. Learn about June's latest book on her website.

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