I finished chapter 7 (7:45-52) of John today. In it, the temple guards come back from being sent to arrest Jesus. But He isn’t with them. They come back empty handed. The religious leaders (the Pharisees) are dumbfounded. “Why didn’t you bring him back?!”, they want to know.
Catch the guards answer. “No one ever spoke the way this man does.”
Okay, the guards are good Jews who work at the temple. They aren’t priests or religious leaders, but they work with and around them all day. They have seen and heard it all. They’ve seen what goes on in front of the people, and what goes on when there isn’t a crowd. They’re probably going to be a little jaded, a bit skeptical, because they have seen the humanness of the religious leaders that few people would have seen.
So, they go to arrest this guy Jesus. No big deal. They’ve done it before with others, they’ll have to do it again. But something happens this time. The way Jesus carries Himself, the way He speaks, His tone of voice, His choice of words, His love and strength combined together, it all affects the guards. The whole group. Its not that one guard decided to leave Jesus alone. The whole group decides not to arrest Him. They are possibly going to get fired. They are definitely going to hear about it, which they do. But yet, they decide it’s worth it.
In reading this, I feel like a lot of the people in our lives are like the guards at the temple. They have been around religion for a long time. A lot of stuff has been done in the name of God during their lives, not all of it being good. Thanks to scandals, pastors blowing it, television evangelists, and a bunch of other stuff by people in the church (us), our friends and neighbors have seen the good and the bad of our religion. And they are hard to it, they are jaded. (I often am too, for that matter.)
But notice that Christ, when they meet Him face to face, can cut through that. The guards hear him, and are changed. Very changed. Their allegiance changes, their actions change, they are different. And it’s just in the way that He speaks. It wasn’t the miracles that convinced them, it was how He spoke.
So, here we are, 2000 years after Jesus physically leaves the earth, and He has left us to be His voice, His hands, His heart on this planet. Are we speaking in such a way that people around us see and hear God? What about your boss or your teacher? What about your neighbor, the person in class next to you, the person next to you on the line at work or in the next cubicle? What about the people in your family? Do you speak and act in such a way that they see Jesus in you? If so, it will change them. If we’re wondering why God isn’t changing the people around us, maybe we need to start by looking at ourselves. Maybe He is trying, and we aren’t. It’s just a thought. I’d love to hear what you think.