Summary: Intro below...
A Rabbi takes up work in a new synagogue. His first week things don’t go well. When it comes time for the congregation to say the opening prayer, half of the people stand up – and half of the people stay seated. Before for they can even begin to pray the people standing are yelling at the people seated telling them to get on their feet. Those seated are doing the same in favor of sitting for the opening prayer. Finally, the Rabbi has had enough. Look he says, there is a 98-year-old Rabbi and long-time member of this church who certainly knows what the tradition is regarding sitting or standing for prayers here. I suggest one member whose opinion is for standing, and one member whose opinion is for sitting come with me and we will ask him, “What IS the tradition for prayers!” The congregation agrees and the next day the three make their way to the old Rabbi’s house. They enter his room, and the man who stands for the prayers rushes over to the old man and says, "Wasn’t it the tradition in our synagogue to stand for prayer?" "No," the old man answers in a weak voice. "That wasn’t the tradition."
The other man jumps in excitedly. "Wasn’t it the tradition in our synagogue to sit for prayer?" "No," the old man says. "That wasn’t the tradition."
At this point, the rabbi cannot control himself. He cuts in angrily. "I don’t care what the tradition was! Just tell them one or the other. Do you know what goes on in services every week — the people who are standing yell at the people who are sitting, the people who are sitting yell at the people who are standing—"
"That was the tradition," the old man says.
1. While we may not argue about whether to sit or stand for prayer, we all have opinions about things - and - it’s good that we do – for – it MATTERS that we come to decide for ourselves about things in life;
a. What’s right and what’s wrong
b. What’s of value – and – not worth my time.
c. The Song of Solomon says there is a time for everything – and this is true, but we still must decide what should be done at THIS particular time.
2. Still – even if we agree people should come to conclusions in their OWN minds – there is a part of us that HOPES --- and sometimes STRONGLY and (sadly) FORCEFULLY hopes … that EVERYEONE ELSE will come to the same conclusion as I do, because, if NOT – well, there’s going to be trouble!
3. And, don’t you know – because of differing opinions about a HOST of matters that MATTER (and some that really DON’T) – there IS trouble.
4. In many ways, of course, this is not surprising.
5. We would be rather naïve to think that things should be otherwise.
6. And yet, the variety of opinions on earth today – and the hurt feelings, prejudice and strife that they cause can make one WONDER about a declaration made by a certain host of angels some 2000 years ago.
7. At the birth of Christ, did not the angels sing, “Glory to God in the highest – and on earth PEACE good will to all men?”
8. Where the angels right?
9. And if so, where is the peace? -FOR – the opinions of men and women have scarcely ever been more diverse and more greatly at odds and “peace on earth” is so very hard to find!
10. This question – the relationship of Jesus appearing and peace on earth – is greatly on display in today day’s passage – John 7:40-58.
a. The Scripture is located on page 6 in your bulletin and I invite you to turn there now and follow along as we study God’s word today.
11. In vs.40-41 we are told that as the people had come to hear Jesus preach, among THIS group at least, there were three opinions gathering steam:
a. READ 40-41
b. Some were not ready to say Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah – but they thought Jesus might be “THE PROPHET” – which was a reference often used for Moses.
c. Because of a particular OT passage, many people had come to expect that just before OR at the time of the Messiah’s coming, one MUCH LIKE Moses if not Moses HIMSELF would appear and “pave the way” for his appearing.
d. Some were convinced that Jesus – speaking as He did – and performing miracles as He did – was this “Moses-like” figure.
e. For those thinking this way, Jesus recent miracle involving the loaves and fishes was proof enough that this was who Jesus was; Moses reincarnate.