This is an apocryphal scene from the 1977 TV miniseries "Jesus of Nazareth." One line has stuck in my head for decades and I finally bothered to track it down. It's an off-screen remark when Nicodemus suggests that the Lord Jesus could very well be the promised Messiah of Israel.
“With respect to those more learned than I, there is one possibility that is seems no one here is ready to consider.”“What is it?”“The possibility that Jesus of Nazareth may be, in fact, the Messiah awaited by our people.”
"A carpenter? From Galilee!?"
It is roughly derived from an encounter the Lord had in John 7. The people marveled that the Lord could speak with such authority having had no formal education. The people had been taught to think this way by the educated class. This reveals much of what is in the heart of religionists and their oft unwillingness to move from a position they were taught in this age. They were taught by “learned” men and they have no authority to diverge from “accepted” dogma. Then they turn upon their flocks and inflict this same standard upon them. There is an irony in there that I hope is not lost on the reader.
Now about the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and taught. Then the Judean leaders were amazed, saying, “How does this man know so much, having never been taught?” Jesus answered them and said, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me.
This requirement that one have formal teaching is evident everywhere today in the modern church. We submit will and intellect to "experts" and "scholars" and "catechisms" and "councils" and "church fathers" and "pastors," etc. Men with "letters." Men with titles. May it not be said of the true workman.
Study to shew yourself approved unto God [alone], a workman that need not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." -2 Tim 2:15
In Acts chapter 4, Peter and John were accuse of having no education as well, but they had something better, the holy spirit and knowledge of the Lord.
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were UNEDUCATED and UNTRAINED men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.-Acts 4:8-13
But seeing the boldness of Peter and John, and perceiving that they were unlettered and uninstructed men, they wondered; and they recognized them that they were with Jesus.
-Acts 4:13 (Darby Translation)
It should not be lost on us that many who hold "letters" (degrees) disagree rather vociferously with each other. There are many schools of thought in theology. There are not only competing theologies, there are completely contradictory theologies, all taught by teachers with "letters."
The most well-known rift in what we understand as Christendom, came as the result of very educated men (Wycliff, Tyndale, Hus, Luther, Zwingli, etc.) who held even advanced degrees in the common faith of the day, denouncing their own education for the greater truths revealed by scripture alone.
"The layman, armed with scripture, is greater than the mightiest pope without it."-Dr. Martin Luther
“If God spare my life, ere many years I will cause a boy who drives a plough to know more of the scriptures than you do.”
- James Mason as Joseph of Arimathea
- Laurence Olivier as Nicodemus
- Anthony Quinn as Caiaphas