Jesus spent an entire sermon undoing people’s misconceptions, things “they had always been taught.” You have heard it was said…but I say unto you…peppered what we call the Sermon on the Mount. These concepts were not foreign to the Law, as we sometimes seem to believe; it has always been wrong to lust after a woman, and it has always been wrong to verbally abuse someone, as well as the other things Jesus listed. He was simply undoing the misinterpretations of the scribes and rabbis. They changed a guideline of the heart that should have led to sincere, overflowing service to God and mankind to nothing more than “the least I have to do mechanically to remain in good standing with God,” which many times was more burdensome than the Law itself.
The Pharisees did not accept Jesus for exactly this reason: he did not match the picture of the Messiah and his kingdom they had always believed in. No matter that he quoted and explained scriptures to them, they would not listen. What was this? A king who was poor, who did not own property, who led no mighty army? It did not help that Jesus’ version of the kingdom stripped them of the power they hoped to have, and the status they currently enjoyed. A kingdom where publicans, harlots, Samaritans, and Gentiles were equal with them? Impossible!
Because of that bias, they refused the scriptures that were laid before them, and became more and more incensed until they were willing to commit murder to remove the teacher and the doctrine that distressed them so. Would we have so adamantly refused the truth just because it was not “what I’ve always heard” or worse, perhaps, “not what I want to hear?” Do we, too, have misconceptions about the King and his Kingdom?
Every time we talk to a neighbor about the gospel, we expect them to readily give up their lifelong beliefs simply because we show them a scripture. Shouldn’t we be willing to do the same? The next time someone comes at a scripture from a different angle than I have always heard, I need to catch myself before I instantly reject his point. I need to listen with an open mind. Growth implies change. When was the last time I changed my mind about something in the scriptures? Do I really think I know it all? If good old brother So-and-So who taught me is half the brother he ought to be, he would be upset with me if I weren’t willing to consider a different view than his.
And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night to Berea, who, when they arrived, went into the synagogue of the Jews. Now these were more noble than those in Thessalonica in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, searching the scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. Many of them, therefore, believed… Acts 17:10-12