Wednesday, Jan. 25
The common people who were following all these goings-on in Israel were a mixed bag, too. They were witnessing a new thing in Israel, a major conflict between their leaders and Jesus, who claimed to be the Messiah. The Jews of that day knew their Scriptures. This was the time for the Messiah. They eagerly followed the debates between Jesus and their leaders. They were normally loyal to their leaders, willing to follow their directions. But Jesus really caught their attention. He made predictions that were fulfilled, i.e., that the Roman official’s son would be healed (John 4:50-53). They marveled at his understanding of spiritual things (John 7:15). They were drawn to Jesus by the miracles he performed, and rightfully attributed them to God, which caused them to question their own leaders (John 7:12-13, 25-26, 40-44). Jesus seemed to meet all the requirements of the promised Messiah, but their leaders were pushing them in a different direction. They probably didn’t know that there were secret believers within the ruling Council, which might be why John included Jesus’ dialogue with Nicodemus in John 3. I’ve thought for years that the Jews were generally hostile to Christ, but as I read through the book this time, I was surprised to learn that most of the events recorded by John resulted in many who believed (2:23, 4:1, 4:39, 7:31, 8:30). Again, the belief focused on who he was, not what he did, although what he did was what drew them, and what he said led them to who he was. Enough evidence was there to validate his Messiahship that the “one God” problem could be tabled. But many were still ambivalent and some did not believe. However, I’m convinced that many of those who were still wavering became believers after the resurrection. Jesus’ chosen disciples were more like an audience than actors, although they were an integral part of the scenario. Unlike the Jewish “seekers,” they had already been chosen and were believers, but they had a lot to learn. The importance here is that these disciples were to be the founding fathers of the Church. Jesus had three quite different groups to deal with. He made the case for his claim of being the Messiah to the leaders, who rejected those claims and ended up crucifying Christ. Jesus also was targeting the Jewish audience with the goal of their becoming believers. And at the same time he wanted to prepare his chosen few for their future job of founding the Church and evangelizing their world. All three of Jesus’ goals were successful, as attested to by the book of Acts.