Don’t let your indecision; Take you from behind; Trust your inner vision; Don’t let others change your mind. Words from Bucks Fizz European Song Contest win in 1981. A great quiz question, Can you name the five UK winners of the European Song Contest? The Bucks Fizz song, “Making your mind up,” was about that time when one struggles with making a decision about which man or woman one is going to end up with for life. It was kind of cute at the time. Most of us though, have gone through that period of indecision even if the end point was nobody. Similarly, before someone becomes confident to make a decision to become a Christian, or to put it another way put their trust in Jesus, there is a period of indecision. We ask the same sort of questions as the Bucks Fizz song.
The church has a responsibility to take this period of seeking seriously. In today’s passage we see a crowd unsure, asking questions, a period of indecision leading to inaction and competing voices. We also see Jesus resolutely continuing his journey to the cross but also taking time to explain who he is and where he came from. The latter was the important question of the day, where did he come from? This is because the Old Testament prophecies made clear the Christ was to come from Bethlehem and many in the crowd knew Jesus came from Galilee. This in part is why Matthew’s gospel, written initially for a Jewish audience, makes clear Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Matthew 2.1
In the mash up of contrary comments, questions and accusations, Jesus makes some fundamental points and these remain as important steps to faith. John 7.29,29 Jesus was sent by God the Father. We may not immediately grasp that was what was meant by, ‘I have not come of my own accord. He who sent me is true, and him you do not know. I know him, for I come from him, and he sent me.’ However, the crowd at the time knew and the Pharisees knew, provoking them to send the temple police to arrest him. John 7.32 It is a basic piece of understanding that is essential for someone to accept as they are seeking if they are to trust in Jesus. Jesus was sent by God the Father and God the Father can be trusted because he is true.
Jesus’ authority comes from the intimacy of the relationship within the Trinity. He is eternal truth. Our role as a church is to introduce people to Jesus, patiently, lovingly. His character will convince many. Jesus says many things that people will find hard to understand as when he said, ‘You will seek me and you will not find me. Where I am you cannot come.’ John 7.34 He was referring to his return to glory following his resurrection an experience those rejecting him cannot share. But there will be others who on hearing Jesus’ words will say, ‘This really is the Prophet … This is the Christ.’ John 7.41,42 But they cannot do that unless they hear the words of Jesus and that responsibility is ours to provide.
I have probably quoted David, my neighbour in halls of residence at teacher training college, before. After a period of questioning about Christ one evening he came to my room and said he had become a Christian. I asked how and why. He replied that he had just started reading Matthew’s gospel from the beginning and after he finished Chapter 5 he was convinced that Jesus was the Christ. He had heard the words of Jesus and believed as in John 7.31. The Temple Police or as some translations call them, soldiers, found themselves in a difficult place. Ordered to arrest Jesus when they actually met and listened to him found they could not do that. ‘No one ever spoke like this man!’, they said. Meeting Jesus and being convinced by him can create problems for people including life changing threats. We do not know what happened to these individuals.
Nicodemus was a man on a journey to faith. He now faced ostracism from the powerful Pharisee leadership when he argued for a fair hearing for Jesus. John 2.50-52 The Pharisees were reflecting the current bias against Galileans or misrepresenting facts. Jonah came from Galilee and quite probably both Elijah and Nahum. However, Nicodemus had already met with Jesus and was profoundly affected by his words and presence.
How do we as a church enable people to search for meaning?
How sensitive are we to the conflicts people have as seekers?
How clear are we about the evidences for Jesus being the Christ?
Bucks Fizz – Making Your Mind Up – (Just for fun)