Thursday, June 05, 2008

Luke #53 – Preconceived Notions

Luke #53 – Preconceived Notions

“And He began to say unto them, ‘This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.’ And all bare Him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, ‘Is not this Joseph's son?’” (Luke 4:21-22 – King James Version).

We used to camp on the back side of an area of Hyco Lake called McGhee’s Mill. Growing up I had camped, swam, and fished in this spot more times than I can count; it was my favorite spot. There was a rock jutting out over the water that we used to jump off of all the time. It might have been three of four feet high and it was perfect for diving. There’s no telling how many times I’d jumped off of that rock.

Late one night I took a group of my school friends out to that favorite spot to go swimming. We goofed around awhile, splashing and playing in the water. I said, “Let’s go jump off of the rock.” As we walked over toward the rock one of my friends asked, “How deep is the water here?” “Oh,” I replied, “Don’t worry about that. It’s deep enough.” With that said, I let out a great shout, ran and vaulted feet first off of the rock. When my feet hit the soft mud under the water I landed on a piece of glass and nearly cut my toe off; it was slashed down to the bone and tendon. Not only was there glass in the water, but apparently someone had dumped such a great amount of dirt and trash there that the water level in that spot was three or four feet more shallow.

Familiarity, it is said, breeds contempt. That’s true in a great many cases. Familiarity also breeds preconceived notions. Take my slashed toe for example; I assumed that the water was deep enough and the conditions were safe because I had jumped from that spot so many times. A smarter guy would have checked the area out before taking the plunge.

In today’s Scripture we read the reaction of Jesus’ fellow hometown neighbors when He verbally revealed that He was the Messiah. They basically said, “Wow, this guy is an amazing speaker, but isn’t he just the town carpenter’s son?” Familiarity, in this case, caused preconceived notions. They thought they had Jesus pegged. They had watched Him grow up and obviously thought “There is no way this guy can be the Messiah! He’s just ol’ Jesus…he’s nobody! How can he be the Messiah?” Maybe, just maybe, some investigation was in order. The Gospel writer, Dr. Luke, did not write in a chronological style, but in a logical style. I say that to say that Jesus had already been performing miracles before this visit to His hometown (verse 24). I would even have to imagine that news of the twelve year old Jesus’ visit to the temple would have spread while He was growing up. Surely His neighbors had heard how Jesus had wowed the teachers at the temple and realized there was more to Him than met the eye. Yes, I firmly believe that investigation into Jesus’ Messianic claim would have dissolved any preconceived notions.

People have all kinds of preconceived notions about Jesus today too. They base much of what they believe on what they already feel or WANT to believe rather than investigating the facts about Jesus. That may lead to missing out on who He really is and what Christ is all about. For example; I recently heard someone say that Jesus always went against the system—that He was a true rebel. Hogwash. The only system Jesus fought against was the system of sin. When it came to doing God’s will (the most important thing), Jesus followed the plan exactly. A little investigation would have fixed that. I also heard someone say recently that Jesus was more concerned about people’s happiness than their sin. Hogwash. Just because Jesus was so tender and merciful with people does not mean that He excused sin. He is a good Lord, make no mistake about that, but He’d rather us be holy than happy.

There are always two matters to deal with when we receive information. The first is what we already believe and the second is the truth. Often those two conflict. When it comes to Jesus and who He is, don’t let preconceived notions cause you to miss something. Investigate Him in the Holy Scriptures. I bet we’ll all be surprised to find that He was much more than a good man, a carpenter’s son, or a good teacher. He is God. He requires full commitment from us. There is neither half measure of belief when it comes to knowing Him nor any half measure of commitment. Faith in Him is not simply going to church and knowing Bible stories. Somehow, especially in America, we have some preconceived notions that Jesus is something less than God Almighty; that He allows anything less than holiness and dying to self. We had all better check ourselves and our notions. Failing here will cost far more than a gash in the foot.

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