December 14th, 2006
If someone claims to be a messiah or the Messiah, how do you test the claims? There have been plenty of applicants for jobs as messiahs over the centuries, and experience has proved nearly all of them to be false. In the case of Jesus, his teaching was authoritative, he appeared to perform miracles, many sensible people seemed to think he was the real deal, he appeared to fulfil some ancient prophecies, and he made certain predictions which you might be able to test. Which of these factors provide the best basis for a test of whether he really was the Messiah?
John’s Account of the Good News — Chapter 7
7:1 Later, Jesus was travelling in Galilee. He had stopped travelling in Judea, because the Jews wanted to kill him. 7:2 It was almost time for the Jewish Feast of Booths. 7:3 His brothers said to him, “Go to Judea so that your disciples can see the things which you are doing. 7:4 No one who wants to be well known does things in secret. You are doing these things, so show yourself to the world.” 7:5 Even his brothers did not believe in him. 7:6 Jesus said to them, “My time has not arrived, but your time is always here. 7:7 The world can’t hate you, but it hates me, because I testify that its actions are evil. 7:8 You go to the feast. I am not yet going to the feast, because the time is not yet right for me.”
7:9 After saying this to them he stayed in Galilee. 7:10 Then when his brothers had gone to the feast, he also went, not publicly but secretly. 7:11 The Jews were looking for him at the feast and asked, “Where is he?” 7:12 There was much whispering about him amongst the crowds. Some said, “He is a good man.” Others said, “No, he leads the crowd astray.” 7:13 But no one spoke openly about him because they were afraid of the Jews. 7:14 Then in the middle of the feast Jesus went into the temple to teach. 7:15 The Jews were amazed, saying, “How does this man have such learning if he has never been educated?”
7:16 Jesus answered, “My teaching is not mine, but belongs to the one who sent me. 7:17 Anyone who wishes to do his will can recognise whether the teaching is from God, or whether I am making it up myself. 7:18 Someone who speaks from himself seeks his own glory, but someone who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is true, and there is nothing unrighteous in him. 7:19 Didn’t Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keeps the law? Why do you want to kill me?” 7:20 The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who wants to kill you?”
7:21 Jesus answered, “You are all amazed because I did one miracle. 7:22 Moses gave you circumcision (not that it was Moses, but actually the patriarchs), and on the Sabbath you circumcise a boy. 7:23 If a boy gets circumcised on the Sabbath, without breaking the law of Moses, are you angry with me because I restored a man to wholeness on the Sabbath? 7:24 Don’t judge according to appearance, but make a righteous judgment.”
7:25 Some people from Jerusalem asked, “Isn’t this the man they want to kill? 7:26 He is speaking openly, and they say nothing to him. Do you think the rulers know that he really is the Christ? 7:27 Yet we know where this man comes from, but when the Christ comes no one will know where he comes from.” 7:28 Jesus said in a loud voice in the temple, “You know me and you know where I am from. I have not come on my own behalf, but the one who sent me, whom you don’t know, is true. 7:29 I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.”
7:30 They wanted to arrest him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his time had not yet come. 7:31 But many people in the crowd believed in him. They said, “When the Christ comes, surely he won’t do more signs than this man has done.” 7:32 The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering these things, and the senior priests and Pharisees sent officers to arrest him.
7:33 Then Jesus said, “I will be with you a little while longer, then I go to him who sent me. 7:34 You will look for me, but won’t find me. Where I am you can’t come.” 7:35 The Jews discussed amongst themselves, “Where will this man go that we won’t find him? Will he go to the Dispersion among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks? 7:36 What did he mean when he said, ‘You will look for me, but won’t find me, and where I am you can’t come’?”
7:37 Now on the last and most important day of the feast, Jesus stood and proclaimed, “Anyone who is thirsty should come to me and drink! 7:38 As the Scripture predicts, rivers of living water will flow within anyone who believes in me.” 7:39 He said this about the Spirit, which those believing in him would receive. The Holy Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
7:40 Many of the crowd heard these words and said, “This really is the prophet.” 7:41 Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some said, “Does the Christ come from Galilee? 7:42 Hasn’t the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the bloodline of David, and from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” 7:43 So the crowd was divided because of him. 7:44 Some of them would have arrested him, but no one laid hands on him. 7:45 The officers returned to the senior priests and Pharisees, who asked them, “Why didn’t you bring him?” 7:46 The officers answered, “No man ever spoke like this man!”
7:47 The Pharisees replied, “You aren’t letting yourselves be led astray also, are you? 7:48 Have any senior officials believed in him, or Pharisees? 7:49 The crowd doesn’t know the law and they’re cursed.” 7:50 Nicodemus, the man who had come to him by night, who was one of them, said, 7:51 “Does our law judge a man, unless it first hears from him personally and knows what he does?” 7:52 They answered him, “Are you also from Galilee? Look into it, and you will see that no prophet comes from Galilee.”
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