We tend to shake our heads. Clearly we think, Jesus was the Messiah, one of greater import than any could have suspected. Yet, before we move on, secure in our prideful “understanding” we must remember one thing.
In Jesus’ time, these Pharisees were the learned men of their time. They examined Torah in excruciating detail and followed the Law as they believed, in all its detail.
And in their “knowledge” they failed to see the truth of Jesus. When people said, “there has never been anybody who has spoken like him,” they took this as a sign that the man was a lunatic, a dangerous and disruptive influence.
Am I suggesting that we should ignore our theologians and exegetes and rely on our own understanding based on our own interpretation? Hardly. Theologians and biblical scholars are most valuable people. Their contribution to our overall understanding of the meaning of scripture has been over the ages, incalculable.
But I am suggesting that there is more to faith than “book learning.” It is easy enough to become trapped in constant reading of new books which dissect every word of Mark or John, or one of Paul’s letters. It is easy enough to feel superior in understanding because of this. It is so very easy.
But if we are to truly walk the path of Jesus, than we must do more than become scholars in the various hermeneutics techniques. For Jesus made it quite clear than the Pharisees were getting it wrong precisely because of their devotion to the particulars. They were missing the big picture, the overarching, the general.
Love God and love neighbor Jesus said. He said that summed up everything. He said he had not come to abolish the Law, rather he came to fulfill it. Not “one iota” of the Law would be lost. The seeming paradox is apparent, yet when we think deeply we discover no paradox at all. By loving God and neighbor, by probing the depths of love, we automatically do all those things that the Law would have us do.
We discover a higher level of consciousness, one that allows us to share in the Godhead. Once attained, all the Law becomes obvious, without all the rules and petty regulations. We love in its fullest sense, and thus we do what is right at every turn, without reference to any list.
We can then see who is the prophet and who is not, simply by whether their message conforms to unitive living or not. We are no longer held hostage by rules of where the prophet might arise. WE have a new way of seeing, a new way of listening. We may find the prophet at the next bus stop.