Who do you listen to? Here’s a little guidance from Jesus from John 18: 33-37.
This is the part of the Passion of Jesus in which Jesus is brought before Pilate. He says to Jesus,
“Are you the King of the Jews?” And Jesus answers, “Do you say this on your own or have others told you about me?” Pilate says, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answers, “My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not here.” And Pilate says, “Then you are a king?” To which Jesus answers, “You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.“
Pilate has been listening to the Jews, who want to get rid of this meddlesome radical. All along, the Pharisees, Sadducees, and scribes have tried to trip Him up, and it has led to this moment. These Jews themselves haven’t been listening to Jesus. Jesus indicts them for their hypocrisy, for their setting up difficult rules and laws for everyone else to live up to while not living up to the those rules and laws themselves, more showing lives of piety and self-righteousness for appearance sake only. Today there are plenty of Christian “Pharisees” doing the same.
But who do you listen to? When it comes down to guidance, do you actually read what Jesus said from the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John? Or do you listen to everything else and everyone else, who just tell you what to think about what Jesus said? Do you listen to sound bites – a simple line or two of scripture meant to substantiate a point or back up an agenda – or do you read the whole chapter from which the scripture comes, so you can get the whole meaning?
All too often, people read what they want to read, quote what they want to quote, to fit the narrative they’re trying to build and support. Many fall back primarily on Old Testament thinking, when Jesus represents primarily New Testament thinking. If you’re a Christian – Catholic or Protestant – shouldn’t you first listen to what Jesus said? What He told Pilate and by extension us is, “Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” To His voice.