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Identity Crisis

ATP Blog #50

Identity Crisis

John 7:40-44

So far in John’s gospel, Jesus Christ has been clearly identified, and described through many names and character traits. Yet, many of the Jews had a hard time understanding His identity, mainly due to the misunderstanding they had of the Messiah from the Old Testament prophesies. How often do we have a hard time getting something because of traditions and biases? Getting an unbiased perspective on anything can be quite difficult; even realizing the biases you have, that may be incorrect, is challenging.

Crisis #1 Teaching: ‘Many from the crowd, when they heard this saying, said, ‘Truly this is the Prophet.’’ They heard what Jesus was saying, and recognized that it must have come from God, thus concluding that Jesus was a prophet. In fact, the text tells us that they thought He was ‘The Prophet’, possibly referring to the prophecy of Deuteronomy 18:15, which says, ‘The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen.’ Was He this prophet, speaking for God? If so, then they should listen carefully, ask questions, and seek to understand!

Crisis #2 Claims: ‘Others said, ‘This is the Christ.’’ Others recognized the fulfilled prophesies regarding the Christ or Messiah, and speculated that Jesus was the One. He would be the King that would set all things right, and free them from slavery (in their minds, from the Romans). The one main objection to this was, ‘Will the Christ come out of Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David, and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?’ Obviously, the fact that Jesus was born in Bethlehem was not common knowledge. Also forgotten were the prophesies of the Messiah growing up in the land of Zebulun and Naphtali, which is Galilee.

Crisis #3 Role: ‘So there was division among the people because of Him. Now some of them wanted to take Him, but no one laid hands on Him.’ Notice that it was the religious leaders that were insistent on killing Jesus instead of listening to what He had to say, and studying the claims He made regarding His identity and role. The division among the people was due to the disparity between the evidence, and what they had been taught! How often does that happen to you? I know that I have had to deal with that a few times. We must remember that God’s Word trumps all traditions and experiences. The key is understanding what God is trying to tell us, not what we want to hear. The people understood the parts of the prophesies that had to do with a conquering hero type of Messiah, but skipped the parts of the suffering servant ... the priest who would perform the greatest sacrifice, dealing with the greatest problem in the world: sin, once and for all.

Decision Time: You must make a decision. Will you allow the Holy Spirit of God to help you properly interpret His Word, or will you allow traditions and biased teaching to cloud your vision? There will come times of crisis, where what God tells you (and everyone) is different that what you have previously understood. The fact of the matter is that all three roles, prophet, priest, and king, were to belong to Jesus Christ. During His life, He would perform the role of prophet, bringing God’s Word to the people. Through His death, and the gift of the Holy Spirit, He would perform the role of priest, interceding between us and God. Finally, in His return, He will perform the role of King, ruling over the world in truth and justice.

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