I recently saw a video of a basketball game that my youngest son refereed. Throughout the game, fans of both teams objected to calls made or calls that they thought should have been made. Of course, their team never did anything wrong. The television announcers also objected to some of the calls made and not made. Occasionally, their objections were valid, but the ones that were not stemmed from a lack of complete information concerning the foul, or lack thereof. Of course I knew my son could not make a mistake, well, not too many anyhow. Why the difference in the conclusions?
Admittedly, I was biased in drawing my conclusions. Bias may not necessarily be a bad thing. Bias begins with some accurate knowledge. I know how hard my son works at officiating and his desire to do his absolute best when calling a game. Therefore, I may have a bent on how I interpret what is going on in the game and that bent may be helpful in drawing a valid conclusion, or it may be a hindrance. Many of the fans were somewhat prejudiced. Not that they really believed their team could do no wrong, but some truly believed that they knew more about the rules of the game and had a better vantage point in observing the action than the refs on the floor. Prejudice begins with some inaccurate knowledge. The announcers were neither biased nor prejudiced. But often their commentary was given immediately after a foul was called without finding out why the foul was called. Their wrong conclusions simply came from no knowledge. In all three cases, a lack of complete, accurate knowledge caused a wrong conclusion.
What a person concludes concerning the person of Jesus Christ determines their eternity. Fortunately for Nathaniel, his bias did not prevent him from following the Lord. When Philip found Nathaniel, he informed him that they had found the Messiah of Israel who was Jesus of Nazareth. Nathaniel’s question showed his bias, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46) Nathaniel’s question was a valid question. Nazareth was not noted for its godliness. Philip’s response was appropriate, “Come and see.” Get all the information before you make a conclusion. Nathaniel did, and in the end decided correctly saying, “Rabbi, thou art the Son of God, thou art the King of Israel.” (v. 49)
The Pharisees did not do so well. They were prejudiced against the Lord. Their prejudice is displayed in John 9:24 where they say of Jesus, “We know that this man is a sinner.” Even though an undeniable miracle had just been performed right in front of their eyes, they were unwilling to conclude correctly concerning Jesus’ person. Ironically, a boy that had been born blind had received his sight from Jesus’ miracle but the Pharisees did not realize they were spiritually blind as a bat.
Possibly the only thing worse than drawing conclusions on the basis of a prejudice, is drawing conclusions with only a little information, or without any information at all. Such was the case of Pontius Pilate. When Jesus was brought by the Jews before him for trial, he did everything he could to avoid drawing a conclusion. Having asked a question or two concerning His person, Pilate decided that it was better to succumb to the pressures of the people rather than seeking the truth.
Toward the end of His earthly ministry, Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do men say that I am?” A number of answers were given, but then Jesus asked the most important question, “Who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:13, 15) Any other response than, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” is a conclusion that is drawn from a prejudice, a bias, or little or no information at all, and one that will lead to an eternity in hell.