Reading 1, Jeremiah 11:18-20
18 Yahweh informed me and I knew it; you then revealed their scheming to me.
19 I for my part was like a trustful lamb being led to the slaughterhouse, not knowing the schemes they were plotting against me, ‘Let us destroy the tree in its strength, let us cut him off from the land of the living, so that his name may no longer be remebered!’
20 Yahweh Sabaoth, whose judgement is upright, tester of motives and thoughts, I shall see your vengeance on them, for I have revealed my cause to you.
Gospel, John 7:40-53
40 Some of the crowd who had been listening said, ‘He is indeed the prophet,’
41 and some said, ‘He is the Christ,’ but others said, ‘Would the Christ come from Galilee?
42 Does not scripture say that the Christ must be descended from David and come from Bethlehem, the village where David was?’
43 So the people could not agree about him.
44 Some wanted to arrest him, but no one actually laid a hand on him.
45 The guards went back to the chief priests and Pharisees who said to them, ‘Why haven’t you brought him?’
46 The guards replied, ‘No one has ever spoken like this man.’
47 ‘So,’ the Pharisees answered, ‘you, too, have been led astray?
48 Have any of the authorities come to believe in him? Any of the Pharisees?
49 This rabble knows nothing about the Law — they are damned.’
50 One of them, Nicodemus — the same man who had come to Jesus earlier — said to them,
51 ‘But surely our Law does not allow us to pass judgement on anyone without first giving him a hearing and discovering what he is doing?’
52 To this they answered, ‘Are you a Galilean too? Go into the matter, and see for yourself: prophets do not arise in Galilee.’
53 They all went home,
The guards and many others were in awe of Jesus, amazed at the words He spoke. These guards were sent to arrest Jesus at the order of the chief priests and Pharisees, but the guards couldn’t bring themselves to arrest Him. They were rendered powerless in the face of the “awe factor” Jesus enjoyed.
When Jesus taught, there was something communicated beyond His words. Yes, His words were powerful and transforming, but it was also the way in which He spoke. It was hard to explain but it’s clear that, when He spoke, He also communicated a power, a calm, a conviction, and a presence. He communicated His Divine Presence and it was unmistakable. People justknew this man Jesus was different than all the rest and they hung on His every word.
God still communicates to us this way. Jesus still speaks to us with this “awe factor.” We simply need to be attentive to it. We should strive to be attentive to the ways that God speaks in a clear and convincing way, with authority, clarity and conviction. It may be something someone says, or it may be an action of another that touches us. It may be a book we read, or a sermon we listen to. Whatever the case may be, we should look for this awe factor because it is there we will find Jesus Himself.
Interestingly, this awe factor also invited extreme criticism. Those with a simple and honest faith responded well, but those who were self-centered and self-righteous responded with condemnation and anger. They were clearly jealous. They even criticized the guards and others who were impressed by Jesus.
Reflect, today, upon the ways that God has left you in awe of His message and His love. Seek out His voice of conviction and clarity. Tune into the way God is trying to communicate and pay no attention to the ridicule and criticism you may experience when you do seek to follow His Voice. His Voice must win out and draw you in so that you can savor everything He wishes to say.
Lord, may I be attentive to Your unmistakable Voice and to the authority with which You speak. May I be amazed at all You wish to say. And as I listen to You, dear Lord, give me the courage to respond with faith regardless of the reaction of others. I love You, dear Lord, and desire to be transfixed upon Your every Word, listening with wonder and awe. Jesus, I trust in You.