Today’s Reading: John 8:39-59 (NRSV)
How do you know if someone’s influence comes from God or the devil? That seems to be the crux of the theme surrounding today’s reading.
Jesus claims that the authorities are from the devil and they claim that he has a demon.
It ends with Jesus once again claiming the divine name in verse 58. They are ready to kill him then and there but it is not the right time and so they are unable.
How does one know? Those opposing Jesus would say that his miraculous power must come from demonic forces because his actions are at times working against some of the cleanliness laws. These seem rather trite for Christians today because we have lived so long in a culture dismissing them. But at the time, these were pretty large. But more importantly, Jesus claimed that they were ignoring the widow and the orphan which prophets often criticized leadership about.
Jesus claims that the authorities are not following the example of Abraham. As we know, Abraham was faithful – willing to give over everything to God – even the sacrifice of his son, Isaac. While this was not required, his willingness shows his priorities. Abraham also shows hospitality to strangers which turn out to be angels. Abraham is willing to argue with God over the innocence of people he does not even know.
Jesus shows that his opposition is looking to kill rather than hear the truth.
Sometimes we are not interested in hearing the truth. We would go to great lengths to cover it up so that it does not become exposed. Jesus mentions earlier in the chapter that the truth sets us free.
|Sometimes we take more than we need.
But we’re convinced we need it!
So in order for us to know whether or not to believe if someone is following the will of God, I always try to ask the question, who will most likely benefit from their actions? If the answer is someone in need, I would be more likely to say that God is the influence. If the answer is the self, I am less likely to think so. Jesus ultimately provides forgiveness for the world and he pays the price to do so. His ministry pulls in the downtrodden. He calls those who think they are close to God to re-examine themselves.
As we continue to move toward the cross with Jesus, we may need to examine our own motives to see how often we feather our own nest.
Prayer for the day:
Lord, teach us to understand that your Son died to save us, not from suffering, but from ourselves; not from injustice, far less from justice, but from being unjust. He died that we might live – but live as he lives, by dying as he died who died to himself. Amen.
George Macdonald, Scotland, 19th century
Photo by Julie Falk via Flickr.com. Used under the Creative Commons license.