1Now Jesus left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. 2When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue. Many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did he get these ideas? And what is this wisdom that has been given to him? What are these miracles that are done through his hands? 3Isn’t this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And aren’t his sisters here with us?” And so they took offense at him. 4Then Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown, and among his relatives, and in his own house.” (Mark 6:1-4 NET Bible)
I was struck by the new rendering found in the revised NWT (2013 edition) of Mark 6:2. “…why should this wisdom have been given to him…?” Most versions render this as “what is this wisdom” as illustrated above. I won’t dispute the accuracy of our translation over the others as that would be off topic. I bring this up only because when I read this altered rendering today, it made me realize something that is evident from this account, no matter which translation you read: Those people were stumbled by the messenger, not the message. The works performed through Jesus were miraculous and indisputable, yet what concerned them was “Why him?” They were likely reasoning, “Why, just a few weeks ago he was mending stools and making chairs and now he’s the Messiah?! I don’t think so.”
This is the “physical man” of 1 Cor. 2:14 at his most elemental. He focuses only on what he wants to see, not what is. This carpenter did not have the credentials these men expected of the Messiah. He was not mysterious, unknowable. He was the lowly carpenter’s son they’d known all their lives. He just didn’t fit the bill of what they envisioned the Messiah would be like.
The next verse contrasts the spiritual man (or woman) with the physical one by saying, “However, the spiritual man examines all things, but he himself is not examined by any man.” This doesn’t mean that other men do not attempt to examine the spiritual man. What it means is that in doing so, they draw the wrong conclusions. Jesus was the most spiritual man who ever walked this earth. He truly examined all things and the true motivation of all hearts was open to his penetrating gaze. However, the physical men who tried to examine him arrived at the wrong conclusions. To them he was an insolent man, a pretender, a man in league with the devil, a man who consorted with sinners, a blasphemer and an apostate. They saw only what they wanted to see. (Mat. 9:3, 10, 34)
In Jesus they had the whole package. The best message by the most outstanding messenger the world has ever heard. Those who followed had the same message, but as messengers, they could not hold a candle to Jesus. Still, it’s the message not the messenger. It is no different today. It’s the message, not the messenger.
The Spiritual Man Examines All Things
If you have ever spoken with someone “in the truth” about a Scriptural topic which contradicts some official doctrine, you might have heard something like this: “Do you think you know more than the Faithful Slave?” The physical man focuses on the messenger, not the message. They are discounting what is being said, based on who is saying it. It doesn’t matter that you are reasoning from the Scriptures and not your own originality, anymore than it mattered to the Nazarenes that Jesus was performing miracles. The reasoning is, ‘I know you. You’re no saint yourself. You’ve made mistakes, done stupid things. And you, a lowly publisher, think you are smarter than the men Jehovah has appointed to lead us?” Or as the NWT puts it: “Why should this wisdom be given to him (or her)?”
The scriptural message is that “the spiritual man examines all things”. Therefore, the spiritual man does not surrender his reasoning to other men. ‘He examines all things.” No one examines things for him. He does not allow other men to tell him right from wrong. He has God’s own word for that. He has the message from the greatest messenger God ever sent forth to instruct him, and he listens to that one.
The physical man, being physical, follows the flesh. He puts confidence in men. The spiritual man, being spiritual, follows the spirit. He puts confidence in the Christ.
One of my favourite morals of the movie, Shawshank Redemption was, once someone is “institutionalized,” he/she is unable to function in the real, outside world. The other moral was: “I came into this prison an innocent man and here learned to become a criminal.” To me it was also a real portrayal of what happens when a religion is institutionalized. I left family and friends to join the organization because I was completely convinced they had “the truth.” But then they changed the rules and as time went on, I watched the intergenerational gap growing and said, “these kids haven’t… Read more »
If you have ever spoken with someone “in the truth” about a Scriptural topic which contradicts some official doctrine, you might have heard something like this: “Do you think you know more than the Faithful Slave?”
You hit the nail on the head with this topic!
Very good points Meleti. In response to the idea of “examining all things” we have more tightening of the screws coming down the pipeline. The July 15th WT again uses the example of Korah and his pals extensively, and puts the congregation members on high alert against any who dissent with official teachings. Responding to blogs is outlawed also.
Responding to apostate blogs is outlawed. Jw.org has no blog so we should be fine!
The illustration in that WT is creepy and fear mongering. Or maybe I feel that it is because I’m the “Korah” “devious” ” renagade ” that is going to get swallowed up in the ground :/
In the last couple WT’s the GB has expanded their definition of Apostasy. A couple months back we are encouraged to stop associating with those who are even leaning toward apostasy by asking questions.In the July 15 WT those who disagree with the GB are accused of “practicing sin in secret”.
Thanks meleti ive been thinking along similar lines all week its becoming more and more clear to me now that any religion that does not tolerate an individual putting them to the test cannot really be the the truth .I studied revelation 2 last week the ephesian congregation put to the test those who claimed to be apostles verse 2 and seemed to be commended by jesus at verse 6 the nicolaitans were condemned the very name means conquerors of men and among other things could be refering to a religious heirarchy .this all ties in with acts 20 v… Read more »
I have always loved the scripture at 1 Cor. 2:11-16 that you referenced Meleti Vivlon. I often use this in my defense when some of my long time friends try to discredit my personal viewpoint as it contains very powerful reasoning. Although I have to say that I find a growing number of dissent and free thinkers within the walls of the organization that are also starting to express their viewpoint. Thank you again for your very informative and encouraging articles!
Yes, I think the conduct of the Governing Body and those who follow their lead is having a polarizing effect on our brothers. At some point, we all will have to make a choice. As Jesus said:
(Matthew 12:30) 30 Whoever is not on my side is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.
I had a discussion with my mother last night regarding 1914 and who will survive God’s judgement and during the discussion she asked me ” Who have you been talking to.” Its the default question when others do not want to listen or they are overwhelmed with information.
It can not be that i just read the bible.
I cannot even tell you how much I can relate to this comment. My mother thinks that I must be practicing some secret sin because the only possible way I am not coming to the same conclusions as the Governing Body is that the Holy Spirit must be blocked from me.
There is a dangerous lack of Bible reading and study among JWs.
Thankfully my mother is not baptized so i don’t have that pressure sut sometimes she can be more uber-dub than those who are. Overall thankfully she is open minded. She just tells me I have to much of a lawyers mind. I still love her though. 🙂
should be *but .
The spiritual man trusts in the competence of Christ. He has faith that Jesus can use angels and holy spirit to organize and implement the global preaching earth-wide by invisibly directing and coordinating the preaching of individual Christians. The physical man finds it hard to believe that the global preaching work can be accomplished without a hierarchical “visible earthly organization” of men to organize and direct matters. He has no genuine faith in the invisible rulership of Christ and his ability to invisibly organize and direct the preaching work from heaven. He sets his eyes on the things seen rather… Read more »
Very nicely put. Thank you.
I really enjoyed this comment.