John 1:29–42, Luke 4:16–30, 1 Corinthians 15:1–11 (read online ⧉)
“Sunday Christians” may be a term you are familiar with. It is a term that conveys that a person who looks all clean on the outside on Sunday, is filthy inside the rest of the week. Often “Sunday Christians” is equated to hypocrisy, which is mostly true (not always). “Sunday Christians” is also often equated to wearing masks. This too is true, yet it should not be viewed as negatively as we portray it.
The prevailing theme of the wider culture is “authenticity”. The truth is that none of us are 100% authentic all the time. Of course, what does authentic mean? Well, the thought appears to be that we don’t wear masks. Yet, what if we are always wearing masks? What if the mask we’re wearing isn’t one we’ve put on?
John the Baptist—Jesus’ cousin—says “…I don’t know him…”. Well, that’s how it’s usually translated. It doesn’t make sense that way. While they may not have been in close proximity often, it is highly unlikely that they didn’t know each other. However, what does make more sense, and still matched the gist of the Greek, is that John knew him as his cousin Jesus. He didn’t recognize him, until that moment, as the Messiah…the one that he was sent to baptize then testify about. Imagine the feeling knowing that there were all the tales about yourself and your cousin…and then realizing the pieces were already there, and you never put it together.
It’s not as if John was alone in his blindness. Look at the people of Jesus’ home town. Once he stepped into his role as Messiah, they no longer “knew” him. They denied him. Again, it is probable that they knew some of the stories about young Jesus. Yet, like many small towns, it probably entered into the realm of myth or legend. In other words, Jesus was no prophet, and certainly no Messiah. He was only a carpenter.
The truth is that for many of us, we will always judged by the masks that people place on us that are not our own. It could be your background. It could be the color of your skin. It could be the language or dialect you speak. It could be the country you’re from. It could be the church you attend. It could be the place you live.
Paul had a certain idea about the Messiah. He certainly had an idea about the “lost” Jews who believed that Jesus was the Messiah. He put the mask of the “traditional” Messiah on and stepped onto his pedestal. Paul then launched his persecution fo the church. Then he was met by Jesus. The scales that were on his eyes symbolized the mask he put on about the Messiah. Along with his awareness and belief, the scales came off, and Paul understood who the Messiah truly was.
We must be careful of the “masks” we put on others. What if we’re wrong? We also must do our best (we won’t always succeed) to understand the masks people put on us, as they make assumptions about what we believe. As the wider culture changes around us, we must be especially careful, as the masks people have regarding Christianity, the church, and (most importantly) about Jesus will inhibit our ability to spread the Kingdom of God.
1) How does Jesus’ family and friends being blind to Jesus being the Messiah inform how we are to interact with the world when it comes to Jesus?
2) What do you think your biggest issue is when dealing with people who make assumptions about you? What are peoples’ assumptions about you that you have had to deal with?
3) How do people learn false things about others? What does this tell you regarding your responsibility when talking about and to others?