Monday, 6 December 2010

I was reading John 8 this morning - from vs 31 onwards, where it says that Jesus spoke to the Jews who had believed Him... Here is the dialogue in shortened form:

"If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
"We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?"  They had already believed His words, remember...
"I know that you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, (already?? - He must have seen what was in their hearts) because you have no room for my word." (But they had apparently believed Him!) "I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father.”
Now there's a provocative remark!
“Abraham is our father,” they answered. Not, 'God is our Father', which they could have argued from Isaiah 63:16, 64:8, Jer 3:4, 19, Mal.2:10, and other places...
  “If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do what Abraham did.  As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me (again He says it!)  - a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things.  You are doing the works of your own father.”
  So they're bound to ask themselves who He is referring to...
  "We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself."  Aha. Now they claim it. Sounds like they're getting a bit desperate for arguments.
  “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”
Ouch, I was thinking - was it really necessary to provoke them all so much?
The Jews answered him, “Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?”
Now here's a remark. Frequently such accusations only demonstrate the accuser's own condition. It's astounding how often this happens. Point a finger at someone and have three pointing back at oneself.
“I am not possessed by a demon,” said Jesus, “but I honor my Father and you dishonor me. I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.”
  Another incredibly provocative remark - as if He was inviting trouble for Himself on purpose.

At this they exclaimed, “Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that whoever obeys your word will never taste death.  Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?”
He's got them into the corner He wanted them in now - or they've painted themselves into it. Almost as if they were on trial.
Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. Though you do not know him, (so what was their spiritual condition? Did they truly believe Him, or did only some believe, and He was sifting them out?) I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and obey his word.  Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”
Here we go...
“You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!”
He's got them. Almost as if He wanted the charge of blasphemy to be levelled against Him at His future trial. They should have no excuse. They had ample proof from the prophetic scriptures and even from the extra-Biblical Talmud that He was the Messiah, yet it was to be made absolutely clear that they were rejecting Him on grounds of the truth. They had no other possible reason. None of them could convict Him or sin.
“Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” 
(The Name of the Eternal One - YHWH)
At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.
Under Roman Law it was forbidden for the Jews to execute anyone, (although they still did so in cases of riot (Acts 7:59-60) but they were prepared to stone Him on holy ground, all the same.
It is significant, that the truth provokes two reactions; either the hearer embraces it and loves it, or he rejects it and seeks to accuse, hurt or kill the one who speaks the truth.
Moreover, here it appears to be new believers who react so violently to what Jesus says. One moment we have this: "Even as he spoke, many believed in him." and the next... 'they picked up stones to stone him'.

It seems as if the Word had not really taken root in their lives. Or perhaps there was a mixture among them - like the tares with the wheat. I have never really thought about this much, until recently, when suddenly we found ourselves in a similar, if a much milder, situation. Those who may be believers, (perhaps for years) but who have never been grounded and rooted in the word of God, may well find that the words of Jesus are offensive to their preconceived notions of truth. Unless they are prepared to go through the offensiveness ( 'They they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works (and) stumbled over the stumbling stone.' Romans 9:32) of the Cross - and accept death to their preconceptions, their flesh, then they will not get over the stumbling stone and remain immature, fighting against the truth and those who try to bring it to them. Perhaps this explains much behind the disunity which we sadly, so often see in the church.

No comments:

Post a Comment