Lesson 5: Comparing The Principle To The Experience – Acts 18:24-19:7
It is very possible for a person to know they are wrong but not understand why or what to do about it. The Bible implies this psychological dilemma when it refers to non-Christians as “lost.”
Like getting sand in your eye – Jesus talked about a beam – you only have a vague sense of where you are and where you’re going.
The same thing is true when it comes to religious truth. A person can know that one thing is wrong without knowing what is right. This can be particularly frustrating if the tradition you follow has been historically true to God.
This was the case with the Jews in Jesus day. They knew that God had led them in the past but they also knew that God had done very little with them for several hundred years (approximately 400). They had been used to a regular diet of prophets, priests and miracles. Silence for so many years was a threatening state of affairs. They looked for and needed a fresh manifestation of God which Jesus was but unfortunately, when He came they were looking in the wrong direction.
There’s no excuse for that. The Scriptures are full of references giving details of his coming and even suggesting the timing but all of this information only got in the way of their religious agenda. Jesus was more of an inconvenience than an answer.
Israel had become obsessed with following a set of rules as if the rules were God. They were really just doing their own thing, changing and adding laws as they pleased. Once one set of rules became “easy” they stiffened things up by expanding the regulations. That was their way of feeling a sense of commitment.
That, of course, describes the nature of all religion. “Rules” make us feel “in.” The more aligned with the rules one is the more “in” they think they are.
This was why John Baptist’s message had such an impact. The Jewish leadership had become oppressive and the Jewish masses knew something was wrong but no one knew how to address the problem or had the courage to speak up.
To the greater populace John was fresh. To the religious establishment he was a challenge to the status quo. [Read more…]