Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Unbelieving John And The Weeping Jesus

Whenever one gives Scriptural interpretation that seems to go against traditional beliefs, the door of religious scrutiny will be opened. It is important that we acknowledge that God said what He meant and meant what He said, thus pluralistic view points of Scripture are not to be brought into question. What I want to address is the humanizing of God's Word and thus the introduction of misinterpretation. Some people take liberty to introduce a new doctrine or teaching that seemingly deviates from God's intent. Let me illustrate with two examples. It is amazing that some believe, when John the Baptist was in prison, that he questioned the deity of Jesus, and whether He truly was the Messiah. (Luke 7:19-20) Reading the text without the Holy Spirit's tutorage will give way to misunderstanding and the promoting of human misdirection. If John actually doubted his own faith, would Jesus have said there was not a greater prophet than John? (Luke 7:24-28) It was the disciples of John that doubted, not John. What John did was to send some of his disciples to Jesus to have a live encounter with the Messiah. To make it easier for them to question Jesus, he told them to use his name and to say he was wondering whether He was the Messiah. Jesus responded to their enquiry by telling them to tell John of what they were seeing and hearing. (Can you not see the smile on Jesus face as He understood what John was doing?) Luke 7:22, 23) Many of us have faced spiritual doubters in life. We have tried to explain issues with the questioning saints only to be discouraged at their lack of understanding. What we need to do is get them to Jesus and let Him lead them into understanding.

Another area that I believe has led to misrepresentation is when Jesus wept at the home of Mary and Martha. (Read the whole account in John chapter 11.) Many believe it was because of His compassion that He shed His tears; after all, the one whom He loved so much had died, and seeing the extreme grief of Mary and Martha, He could not help but weep with them. The Bible only tells us twice that Jesus wept, here at Bethany and as He approached the palm waving crowds at Jerusalem. There He witnessed the peoples' lack of understanding of who He was. When Jesus came to Bethany, Martha had gone out to greet His arrival, while Mary stayed with the mourners. Jesus made it clear to Martha that if she only believed she would see the glory of God. Mary stayed in the house surrounded by negativity. Jesus finally called for her to come. She arrived with the professional grievers and confronted Jesus with, "If only you had been here, he would not have died." Martha said the same thing, but she added that God would give Him whatever He would ask. Jesus was witnessing unbelief in an individual who should have known better; after all she had sat at His feet and heard His teaching. (Luke 10:38-42) When Jesus saw the unbelief and the weeping, He was troubled and groaned in the spirit and then wept. As they went to the tomb, many chided Him by saying He could heal the blind, but He couldn't save Lazarus. Jesus then groaned in the spirit again. It was because of the UNBELIEF of Mary and the people that caused Jesus to weep, not compassion for the loss of Lazarus.

Tradition says John doubted his faith, and Jesus wept because of His compassion. One must ask if that interpretation is consistent with the re-occurring theme of Scripture. Is it consistent with the behavioral pattern of Jesus life? We are not to fit Scripture into our life experiences, but rather we are to seek the truth ministered unto us through the Holy Spirit. Scriptural selection without seeing the total picture is to open ourselves to deception.

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