Short Meditations in John 5: 43. Name Followers
Jn 5:43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him.
The whole matter of who we ‘accept’ is a strange thing. When we say we ‘accept someone we are saying we approve of them in our thinking. We may approve of them because we like them because they have things in common with us – maybe they are in the name sort of social or even ethical group as us, maybe it is just being similar to us – they (and we) are single / married / young parents / grandparents, or perhaps they play the same sport, belong to the same club / church that we do. Maybe we ‘accept’ them because of their beliefs, or their politics, maybe they do home-schooling, maybe they like the same music we like, maybe they play an instrument and we do too. There are a whole range of reasons why we accept other people.
The other side of the coin is more difficult for Christians – the people we do not accept. It may be social class, it may be just good old fashioned prejudice against different groups of people in society. This is not so good because Jesus is open to all and loves all and calls us to be the same. If we could only automatically love and accept everyone we met, how many problems we would avoid.
When it comes to religion or to spirituality, we are in a completely different arena. Without naming names I may have deep reservations about other world religious leaders, or even Christian sub-group leaders, and where there are good causes (e.g. false teachers) it is not a problem to hold back from such ‘acceptance’.
In Jesus’ day, Judaism was the culture, the ground for belief and at the very heart of their lives, Judaism that was grounded in the Old Testament scrolls, a Faith focused on ”The I AM” of the Patriarchs, Moses and the prophets. If anyone was to be anyone, they were to have come in the name of Yahweh and whatever they did had to come under His authority and with His permission. In hindsight it is easy to say that they had to be verified by the fruit they bore, the preaching or prophecy they brought and the authority with which they brought it, or the miracles and healings (in Jesus’ case) that he performed that could have no other origin than in heaven. Everything Jesus said and did was done with reference to his Father in heaven.
You might say all that was quite obvious and yet these religious Jews – Pharisees and priests of the Temple – failed to recognize this and thus rejected Jesus. They had their own people, people like them, people who became part of their own sub-group, people who had little to applaud them apart from the fact that they were religious and culturally the same. There are therefore, warnings for us in all this.