Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed on him? (John 7:48)
Are you going to believe me or your own eyes? (Chico Marx)
I hate to admit this, but after a major political event I am more fascinated by the journalistic commentary that follows it than the event itself. That might be because so many political events and speeches are yawners reminiscent of college Speech 101.
But I’m also interested in other people’s take on what happened, even though it might remind me of Chico Marx’s line at the head of this column: “Are you going to believe me or your own eyes?”
Jesus had the same type of press. He healed the sick, raised the dead, fed the multitudes, and taught a new and living way.
If that’s all he ever did, it’s doubtful that the religious elite of the day would have tried to destroy him. But Jesus had a little problem. His teachings did not fit in the little box of religion that his contemporaries had constructed for their concept of God. He preached unique ideas that threatened the current power structure. That was a threat they could not let stand.
Jesus once healed a blind man, who then came to the conclusion that “if this man were not of God, he could do nothing.” (John 9:33) The religious leaders’ retort? “You were altogether born in sin, and do you teach us?” (verse 34) Are you going to believe us or your own eyes?
Another time the Pharisees and chief priests sent a contingent of temple guards to arrest Jesus, but his teaching was so compelling that the guards refused their orders. “Never has a man spoken like this,” they told the Pharisees, who retorted, “Have any of the rulers or Pharisees believed on him? These people who are ignorant of the law are cursed.” (John 7:46-49)
These religious elites clearly held a high view of themselves and a condescending view of the unwashed masses. When they said, “These people who are ignorant of the law are cursed”, they sound suspiciously like certain elements of our own culture.
It’s good to seek out others’ opinions and to listen to their learned commentary, but no one has a right to tell you how to think or to call you names if you happen to disagree. There is a lot of that going on these days.