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Are You Sure He was Born There? And Why Does it Matter?
by Elaine Pierce
When you meet someone, do you ever ask them where they are from? Where they grew up? Perhaps where they went to high school or college? Often we ask those kinds of questions to find common grounds or to start a conversation. Oh, you're from Cleveland, too? Or, you grew up overseas? What was that like? You went to five high schools? That had to be hard.
In today's passage, some of those in the crowd listening to Jesus were focused on where he was from, not on what he was saying. "How can the Messiah come from Galilee?" A prophet does not come out of Galilee. They were eager to "cancel" Jesus, to use today's word, rather than hear what he had to say.
Setting aside the fact that they were wrong about where Jesus was from [as we know, he was born in Bethlehem, as the prophet Micah predicted in Micah 5:2], what we see is the Pharisees' failure to hear the truth. As Nicodemus said, "Does our law condemn a man without first hearing him to find out what he has been doing." (John 7:51)
Jesus was offering everyone who believed in him "rivers of living water." But the Pharisees and others couldn't see past what they thought was his disqualifying birthplace, and so they missed the good news that he was sharing. They wanted to see his credentials and they were blind to the gift of life eternal that he was offering.
They were wrong about Jesus' credentials to be the Messiah. They missed the good gifts of grace and faith. They were caught up in being "right." They viewed Jesus as a threat to their power and control. It's easy to see how wrong they were, isn't it? Before we smugly pass judgment on them, though, let's ask God to give us a heart to see him and follow him, forsaking all others. Lets not rush to judge people based on what we think is a "lowly" background. And let's rejoice that the living water, the Holy Spirit, lives within us to guide us and lead us.
Lord, it's easy to feel superior to others. Forgive us when we rush to judgment. Help us to remember that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. And that includes us. Thank you for the gift of your Holy Spirit. Help me today to live a life that reflects your glory. Amen.