Assumptions and Your Jesus Journey

Our family had the pleasure of having an exchange student live with us this past school year. As I write this, my German “daughter,” Jil, is on a plane back to Germany and my house feels just a bit emptier. One of the things I liked talking to her about was how her experiences lined up with her assumptions of America. She really wanted to do a lot of the stereotypical high school things – Friday night football games, homecoming, spirit week, Prom, and graduation (to name a few). Most of the things she was interested in were because of seeing them portrayed on TV and in movies. Because of that she was
sometimes surprised by how reality and movies weren’t always the same.

She also had an interesting time dealing with other’s assumptions of her. During her first few weeks of school, one of our favorite dinner-time topics was, “What stupid question were you asked today?” Some examples:

- “You’re from Germany? Do you speak a different language [other than English]?”
- “Do you write in a different language too?”
- “Is Germany in France?”
- “Have Germany and America ever fought each other in a war?”
- “Do you have airports in Germany?”

Assumptions have a way of making us 1) look like idiots and 2) totally misunderstanding a person, situation, or event. An assumption assumes something is true but isn’t always based on facts.

I’ve had my own fair share of making assumptions about things, only to be humbled when I realized my assumption was completely off-the-mark. For example, my paternal grandparents were what I always considered the stereotypical “German personality” (my ancestors immigrated to America from Austria just a few years before WWI). They were blunt, reserved, standoff-ish, rarely emotive, and were not touchy-feely people. But Jil is the exact opposite. She was always smiling, never in a bad mood, ready to try every new thing, and hugged me good night most evenings.

Assumptions. We all make them. Typically, they’re based on our preconceived notions about something or someone which in turn often come from stereotypes or from assumptions someone else passed on to us as fact. But assumptions can get us into trouble.

Many of the religious leaders of Jesus day completely missed seeing Jesus for who He was because they couldn’t see past their assumptions and expectations of what the Messiah would do – how he’d act, what his purpose in coming would be, and how he’d interact with the general population. There are many examples of this in Scripture, but one that we’ll be taking a closer look at this Sunday is found in Luke 7:36-50. In verse 39, a Pharisee thinks to himself “If this man were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman is touching him. She’s a sinner!” The Pharisee assumed that the Messiah wouldn’t interact with sinners but would instead condemn and reject them. The Pharisee made an incorrect assumption. But Jesus wasn’t going to let the Pharisee’s assumption go unchallenged. And so, Jesus told
the Pharisee a story to help him reshape his understanding of the Messiah. It’s one of my favorite stories of Jesus and I look forward to diving deeper into it with you this coming Sunday.

In the meantime, my challenge for you this week is to ask God to reveal to you any assumptions you have that are hindering your understanding of who Jesus is.

Grace & Peace,