I am still reading through the Gospel of John,  and I am continually challenged to reexamine my life based on the encounters people had with Jesus as recorded throughout the Gospels. One today really caught my attention. It was at the end of John 7. Jesus is teaching at the Festival of Tabernacles, and John records the growing conflict between the religious leaders and Jesus. This one centers around their disbelief because Jesus is from Nazareth, not Bethlehem as the prophets predicted. They are so arrogant about their special knowledge that they do several things.

First, they are content knowing what they know. They don’t take the time to ask questions to find out if they are right. For instance, if they had just asked Jesus about this issue, He could have told them His birth story and how He can be from Nazareth but be born in Bethlehem. But they really aren’t trying to find out the truth – in fact they refuse to ask questions because they already know. It is inconceivable to them that they may not have all the facts or could possibly be wrong.

Second, they have a poor view of the people they are supposed to be leading. They call them a “mob that knows nothing of the law” and say that there is a curse on them. What kind of leader thinks so poorly of their “flock?” Exactly how effective will that leader be in getting people to follow him? Notice how Jesus treated people throughout His ministry. He treated people with respect and dignity – except of course for those who thought they knew it all and were better than everyone else.

The third thing that I noticed is that they rejected any attempts by others to find out the truth, even to the point of threatening and belittling them. When Nicodemas tried to be fair and suggested that they actually follow God’s law, they questioned his loyalty and his judgment. It is really telling when a person becomes so defensive when they are questioned. The unwillingness to question your own actions usually means that you aren’t confident in yourself. If you ask an eight-year-old what they are doing and they respond by saying “Leave me alone! Why do you keep asking me all these questions?” it typically is an indication that they are doing something they know they shouldn’t be doing.  How much more true is this of adults and leaders.

It is ironic that the people who trust in their own special knowledge or their role as leaders of God’s people were face to face with Truth and killed Him. They knew a great deal, but they didn’t know God when they saw Him. Contrast their leadership style to Jesus. He was humble. Even though He did know everything, He didn’t hold it over people. He endured endless questions from seekers, yet was quick to contradict those who were working against Him.  I pray that I will be more like Jesus than these hypocritical, self-seeking leaders. I pray that as I grow in my knowledge of God and His plan that I also grow in my love for others and my willingness to serve them. I pray that I will always be compassionate to those who are improving but bold to those who are content in their own righteousness.