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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Friday, January 10, 2020  

Today’s Scripture Reading | John 7:37–52

On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’” Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified. When they heard these words, some in the crowd said, “This is really the prophet.” Others said, “This is the Messiah.” But some asked, “Surely the Messiah does not come from Galilee, does he? Has not the scripture said that the Messiah is descended from David and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?” So there was a division in the crowd because of him. Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.

Then the temple police went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, “Why did you not arrest him?” The police answered, “Never has anyone spoken like this!” Then the Pharisees replied, “Surely you have not been deceived too, have you? Has any one of the authorities or of the Pharisees believed in him? But this crowd, which does not know the law—they are accursed.” Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus before, and who was one of them, asked, “Our law does not judge people without first giving them a hearing to find out what they are doing, does it?” They replied, “Surely you are not also from Galilee, are you? Search and you will see that no prophet is to arise from Galilee.” (NRSV)

So the question here is about authority—or lack of it. What gives Jesus the right to speak?

This makes me think of all the barriers we throw up when we don’t want to hear what someone is saying. When it challenges what we have grown up with as truth, especially for those of us standing in a place of power, of relative privilege in the world. All the more so when we have yet to examine that privilege.

“It isn’t the right time.”
“Do you have to be so angry?”
“Do you have to be so emotional?”

Or refusing to listen if the person doesn’t have the “right” credentials or background. Or worse, listening only to dismiss, to mock, because it makes us uncomfortable.

Nicodemus had the right background and spoke on Jesus’ behalf. He was mocked for it and we may well be too. All the more reason to speak out, knowing how much harder it is for others to be heard.

Gracious God, may I have ears to hear, so that I may always attend to the truth of what is being said and not who says it or the manner by which it comes to me. And may I be a voice in amplifying that truth, regardless of cost. Amen.

Written by Anne Ellis, Program Manager for Congregational Life

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