After Jesus, on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, presented His invitation to the unbelieving crowd, the people were naturally divided as to what to do with this Jesus and His teaching (John 7:43). Jesus offered His invitation, His gospel presentation of sorts, in one, short, pointed charge: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink” (John 7:37). And to those who would come and drink, Jesus promised eternal life and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (John 7:38). These were powerful words that demanded a response.
And the response and division among the people was profound.
Some claimed Jesus was the Prophet, alluding to the forerunner of the Messiah as foretold in Deuteronomy 18:15 (John 7:40). Others, in their excitement, claimed Jesus was the Christ, yet failed to follow Him as Lord (John 7:41). And still others spent their time arguing and debating over trivial quirks and petty theological positions rather than earnestly searching to see if, in fact, the Messiah, the Savior of Israel, the Son of God, was actually standing in their midst (John 7:41-42).
But there was one other group present on this final day of the Feast: the temple guards or officers who were commanded by the Pharisees and the chief priests to arrest Jesus and bring Him to them (John 7:32). The religious establishment, the enlightened intelligentsia, those in power, the Jewish politicians of the day, wanted Jesus removed, arrested, captured, silenced, dead. They wanted to put an end to the saga of Jesus once and for all.
So they sent out those they controlled, the temple officers, the police, with the orders to have Jesus arrested. Yet, the temple officers returned empty handed (John 7:44). The Pharisees were enraged.
“Why have you not brought Him?” they demanded (John 7:45).
“No man ever spoke like this Man,” they replied (John 7:46).
No Man Ever Spoke Like This Man!
The officers, who failed to arrest Jesus and faithfully discharge their duty, did not defend their actions to the Pharisees. They didn’t say, “The job was too hard, the crowds were too big, we couldn’t find Him, or His disciples overpowered us, or… whatever.” No, they simply looked the Pharisees in the eye and said, “No man ever spoke like this Man!” They were shocked, dumbfounded, and bewildered by this Man called Jesus. He was different from anyone they’d ever met. And they were so amazed at His words they simply turned around, their mouths open in disbelief and wide-eyed wonder, and headed back to the Pharisees ready to accept and suffer the consequences for their disobedience.
“No man ever spoke like this Man!”
No one has ever spoken like Jesus. And no one will ever speak like Him. His Words are Scripture, they are truth, they are the Word of God spoken by the Son of God. He’s indescribable, He’s beyond explanation, our minds cannot grasp the majesty of His Presence. He is, after all, God Almighty, the Sovereign One, the Christ, the Messiah, God’s only begotten Son (John 1:18). Every time we approach the Lord we should come to Him in fear and trembling (Psalms 2:11, Phil. 2:12). The word fear means, first of all, what we would assume fear means: terror and dread. After all, we are in the presence of an awesome, powerful, magnificent God whose very presence should drive us to our knees in worship, just like it did Isaiah (Isa. 6:5) and John (Rev. 1:17) and countless others. But the word fear also means honor, respect, and awe. It speaks of giving profound reverence and esteem. Every time we approach the Lord we should be overwhelmed by the limitless depth of His beauty and the soaring height of His wisdom and knowledge and love. We should be captivated, literally intoxicated by the incomprehensible glory of His character and personality and by the inexhaustible supply of His grace and mercy. When we are blessed to be able to commune with Him we should be overwhelmed, overjoyed, just giddy with anticipation to be in His presence.
But we’re not. And why is that?
Familiarity Breeds Contempt
There’s an old saying from Aesop’s Fable that goes: familiarity breeds contempt. The formal meaning of that phrase, or proverb, is: “extensive knowledge of, or close association with, someone or something leads to a loss of respect for them.” Or, in other words, the more you know someone the less impressed you are with them. Awe of something or someone, for some reason, seems to evaporate and disappear over time.
We can see this happen in many marriages today. Before the vows are exchanged, the loving couple can spend hours staring into each other’s eyes, saying nothing, just relishing in the sheer bliss of each other’s presence and loving every minute of it. Fast forward five years and the situation dramatically changes. No more infatuation. The passion has cooled. Now the initial awe and splendor of the marriage has given way to apathy and ingratitude, often voiced as, “You don’t seem interested in me anymore. You no longer open the door for me or take me out to nice places. I feel like you take me for granted.” To which the husband replies, “Huh. What were you saying? Can we talk about this later, the game’s on?”
Why is that? Because familiarity breeds contempt.
But it should never be that way with Christ. In fact, the more we know Him, the more we learn about Him, the more we experience Him, the more in love and in awe we should be of Him. Why? Because knowing Jesus only gets better with time. We can never run out of things to love about Him, or to learn from Him or to discover about Him. He is inexhaustible. Therefore, familiarity with Christ leads to more amazement, more wonder, more astonishment, and more love and respect than we could imagine.
Familiarity Breeds Contempt in the Church
But that’s not what we find in church. In church we’ve somehow lost the respect and awe of the Lord. We’re no longer concerned about worshiping Him. We’re more concerned about pleasing the masses, giving the people what they want, exciting them, giving them some sort of experience, some positive sensation or feeling or affirmation, that will make them want to return for more.
But it’s not about Jesus. Why? Because familiarity breeds contempt, even, as horrifying as it sounds, with the Lord. We know all about Jesus. We’re familiar with Him and His story. There’s not much new to learn about Him. He’s our Lord and Savior, our Master and King, the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God… yawn. But that truth doesn’t move us like it did in the beginning. Why?
Familiarity breeds contempt.
Familiarity with Christ should daily make us realize how small we are and how great and loving and powerful and majestic He is. And it should drive us to our knees in sheer adoration and praise and thanksgiving for all He has done for us. Because He is God, and we are nothing.
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Eph. 3:20-21).
Remember, “No man ever spoke like this Man!”
Or ever will.