John 8 — Two Traps

One of my very favorite pictures of Jesus is drawn for us in John 8. As Jesus was teaching, the scribes and Pharisees brought out a woman caught in the act of adultery (one wonders why the man wasn’t also brought out, but let’s not quibble over details, they had a “fraud” of a Messiah to ensnare) and asked Jesus what to do with her.

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John 7 — Who is He?

“He’s crazy!”

“Is He demon-possessed?”

“If He’s really God, why doesn’t He…”

The reactions to Jesus in His day (as reported in the gospel of John, chapter 7) don’t really sound wildly different from the reactions to Jesus, today. At the beginning of the chapter, His own family doubts He is who He says, and challenges Him to prove Himself.

When He shows up at a Jewish festival and begins to teach, Continue reading “John 7 — Who is He?”

John 5 – Claims and Proof

Ever been on a job interview?  I wouldn’t exactly call them fun.  You spend a lot of time (hopefully) preparing for an all-too-brief opportunity to impress your audience with your charisma, intelligence, character, and skills trying to convince the person on the other side of the table that you’re clearly the best candidate for whatever it is they need you to do.  You try to demonstrate why you’re qualified for the work, and how you have the capacity to do the job.

In John chapter 5, we see Jesus facing significantly more scrutiny than one of my job interviews, but in the end, it might have felt like one.  He was dealing with a group of people that doubted Him, questioned His authority, and asked for His credentials.

Jesus began this interaction by demonstrating His power.  He healed a man who had been bed-ridden for nearly four decades.  He told the man to get up and take a walk. The man did so. Seems simple, right?

The religious leaders of the day, more than a little unsettled by the astonishing actions and teachings of Jesus, spotted a problem, at least as far as they were concerned.  You see, Jesus had healed the man on the Sabbath, telling him to take his mat and go home. According to their very strict interpretation of the Old Testament law, that meant both Jesus and the man who was healed were guilty of working on the Sabbath.  

They began to question Jesus… mostly about why He thought He had the right to do something so outrageous.

Jesus answered them with several reasons and proofs, but before He did He made the startling claim that God was His Father, a claim they interpreted as meaning Jesus was equal to God, and certainly above them.

Jesus’ claims (think of them as His resume) went something like this:

  1. He did the things God would do and He had seen God do.
  2. He claimed the authority to judge the world and the righteousness to be just.
  3. He predicted the dead would hear His voice and respond.
  4. He offered eternal life to all who believed in Him

He also offered several references.  Here are a few of those who would vouch for Him:

  1. God the Father — who had testified, audibly, at Jesus’ baptism
  2. John the Baptist — who also testified before and after Jesus’ baptism
  3. Jesus’ Own Miracles — which served as very obvious demonstrations of His power
  4. Moses — whom they revered, and who wrote about Jesus long before His birth

Unfortunately, these hard-hearted religious zealots wasted their opportunity to put Christ in the position He deserved in their lives.  They refused to recognize Him for who He is, and decided to keep the position of leader of their lives to themselves.

They lost far more than they knew.

We don’t have to make the same mistake.

John 4 – “An Invitation”

In the fourth chapter of John’s gospel, we find a tired and thirsty Jesus resting at a well, waiting for His disciples to return.  The well happens to be historically significant, called Jacob’s well, and many, many years earlier, had been a gift from Jacob to his beloved son, Joseph.  Before the day was out, Jesus would offer a much greater gift to some unlikely recipients, because this well also happened to sit in Samaria.

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John 3 – “A Matter of Perspective”

I remember one of the first lessons I really enjoyed in art class — the day I learned how to draw a house in two-point perspective.  By angling the lines just right, we drew houses that sort of looked like they were drawn in 3D by making the surfaces look like they are shrinking into the distance.  It’s all a matter of perspective — or how you look at it.

The same could be said for the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus, and the relationship between Jesus and John the Baptizer, as we find them in John 3.  Check it out here.

In each case, we find a sharp difference between our view and God’s.

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