You don’t know me!

You don’t know me!

John 8 v 13-20

“The Pharisees challenged him, “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.” 14 Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going. 15 You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. 16 But if I do judge, my decisions are true, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me. 17 In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is true. 18 I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.” 19 Then they asked him, “Where is your father?” “You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” 20 He spoke these words while teaching in the temple courts near the place where the offerings were put. Yet no one seized him, because his hour had not yet come.”

 

The Jewish law, the Torah, called for witnesses to those standing accused. Only two were needed. Jesus states they have had two. Himself and his Father. The fact is they didn’t know God the Father and so they were a million miles from knowing God the Son.

Here comes the attack.

“Where is your father?” It was an attacking question. This was not only saying we cannot see your father standing with you. This was about knowing the story of Jesus. Or they thought they knew the story!

A story of illegitimacy in their eyes. It wasn’t the beautiful incarnational story. It was shameful. “We know you never had a real father!” That was the call from Jesus’ enemy.

Even if our past is shameful, the enemy of our soul will twist it to make it even more so. He is a liar and a father of lies.

Don’t let your enemy either re-write your past or make your past worse than it was. Here is your response:

“You don’t know me”

 

Let’s stay in the light

Let’s stay in the light
John 8 v 12
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Winston Churchill once stated that England was in its darkest hour because there was fear and uncertainty about the future.
It seems that we are still in our darkest hour certainly in terms of Christianity. Or are we?
This is not the first time John has used the image of light. It is certainly not the first time it has appeared in the Jewish mind.
In fact the people were the light. In Isaiah 60 they are the light of the world.
So imagine the offence caused when Jesus refers a title given of Israel to himself?!
There are many lights that come into the world. We ourselves are called to shine brightly.
However, the brightest and true light is Jesus.
He is shining today across the world in the darkest of places. As he does this it not only leads the way but it exposes the darkness.
Israel was supposed to be the light but their light had stopped shining and they were the opposite, they were walking in darkness. Jesus came as the true light. Where Israel failed He succeeded. He exposed their darkness and the leaders didn’t like it. It was this that began the fight between the darkness and the light. We know the LIGHT won!
The same can be said of the Church in 2020. If it stops shining as the light and becomes dim or the light goes out then Jesus will expose it. It is possible that the ‘body of Christ’ could enter a battle with Christ because of the issue of LIGHT. The Church faces significant issues in these days and we need Jesus more than ever, we need the light so that we don’t become dark ourselves.

What did Jesus write?

What did Jesus write?

John 8 v 3-11

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

 

What did Jesus write?

No one knows but it hasn’t stopped people guessing! From doodling, a Jewish custom when thinking, to writing the sins of the stone-throwers. Whatever it was, it dislodged the stone-throwers. They had never seen Jesus write on the ground.

Maybe it wasn’t what he wrote, but what he did that was important, maybe that’s why we’re not told what he did write.

Everything he did and spoke was founded in the Old Testament he continually affirmed the words of the Law and the Prophets. He was a walking Old Testament.

Perhaps he resurrected the prophet Jeremiah who at a similar time when his accusers were trying to trap him as a false prophet, offered a prayer to God and said “those who turn away from you will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the Lord, the spring of living water.” 17:13

It could fit because Jesus had already been using the term ‘living water’ previously regarding himself with the Samaritan woman at the well.

So it wasn’t what he wrote but the fact that he wrote that reminded them but maybe he sealed it by writing their names and the connection was too much.

They brought a nameless woman to Jesus. They weren’t bothered about her. Her sin didn’t concern them at all. What concerned them was whether Jesus was bothered about her sin or not.

Jesus bent down and acted out the prophet Jeremiah and wrote their names in the dust. The older ones perhaps realising the connection sooner than the younger men walked away first. Until all was left was an accused woman, Jesus and the names of her accusers written in the dirt. Jesus still stands in the middle of us and the accusations we face throughout our life of not being the person we should be. When everyone has gone He stands with us.

What’s in your hand?

What’s in your hand?

John 8 v 3-11

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

 

What’s in your hand? Take a careful look because it is possible to carry stones and not realise it.

“If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”

They were trapped – to throw a stone meant they were without sin and only God is sinless, to walk away was to admit they were sinners.

They tried to trap Jesus but in the end they were trapped by him.

What’s in your hand? Drop the stones.

For the sin of those who deserve to be stoned is equal to those who carry the stone.

Our lives are never seamless but they are worthy of a seamless book

Our lives are never seamless but they are worthy of a seamless book

John 8 v 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group

So yesterday we apparently, seamlessly moved into the preparation for this new story.

7 v53 Then they all went home …

8 v 1-2 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.  At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them.

However, this story is in effect not seamless at all.

From 7 v25 till v52 John describes the division over the identity of Jesus and then from v12 “When Jesus spoke again to the people …” John continues with further disputes over Jesus’ testimony. From John’s point of view this is the seamless narrative not the move into the story of the adulteress.

In fact without going into depth, John probably didn’t write the story. It was probably written later but John did say there were other stories that he didn’t have space to write about and this is probably one of them.

Anyway, something for us to think about before we do delve into the story is this: Our life is never seamless. Oh that it was!

Our lives are full of ‘I never saw that coming stories and events’; shocks and surprises; waking up and the day turns on its head and everything changes; questions commence: Why? Why did that happen? Why did it happen then? It may just happen today.

However, our lives do tell a story, a gospel story of how despite the interruptions we face which we constantly respond and react to, continues to read well. You see there is a master scriptwriter who is writing a masterpiece of our story. He seems to seamlessly weave the stories into our narrative and though not perfect it does become a good read.

Do we work like Jesus?

Do we work like Jesus?

John 8 v1-2

“Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them.”

I’ve been having a few days this week to rest and I’ve enjoyed sleeping longer than I usually do. I’ve even been caught having a little sleep in the afternoon too! I must be getting old!

Jesus was a lot younger than me when John records him getting up early in the morning to go to work again. But this was nothing to do with age but living out His purpose in life.

We know throughout the gospels of several times when Jesus got up early and at times before anyone else got up!

The day after spending the night on Mount Olives Jesus was in the temple early ready to teach. At first hardly anyone was there, it was probably too early, but soon a crowd gathered to hear him.

He sat down to teach. It was of course rabbinical custom. The Scriptures were read standing up but then the sermon was given sitting down to indicate that the words were now from the rabbi not that of the prophets of old.

Today we are reminded:

There are times when:

  1. We must get up early. Whether that is to pray or to work. I first began getting up early in my first church. It was a farming community and the families in the church were all awake before the sun rose for work duties. As their Pastor I felt obliged to get up when they got up. They taught me well!
  2. Turn up to do God’s work whatever that is even when it doesn’t look worthwhile. You may think what you are doing is insignificant but keep going for the crowds will come. Your work will move to a new level if you keep persisting.
  3. Don’t break every custom, use some in order to make the gospel more easily received. Some breeze in and announce wholesale change. Some things should never change, thats just the fact and the sooner we know it the better.

Keep going, keep to your purpose.

Keep going, keep to your purpose.

John 7 v 53 – 8 v1 “Then they all went home, but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.”

They went home at the end of the day to their comfort, food and warmth. Perhaps they went home to plan again to bring Jesus down.

Whilst they were in the warmth, Jesus was on the mountain overlooking Jerusalem. He had no home of his own, he faced the cold elements of the mountain. Such a contrast. But more than this. He went on the Mount perhaps to firm up His purpose. It was such an important place.

The Mount of Olives was the place for the commencement of the Triumphal Entry; it was here where he would speak of the tribulation and his return; the Garden of Gethsemane moment would be there; the betrayal took place there and after His glorious resurrection He would ascend from the mountain. That night he prepared for all that was ahead of him.

Today people will figuratively ‘go home’ focusing on what they want from this life. The world tells them what is ‘successful’ and they search after those things. They will bunker down in their positions of righteousness being even more convinced that they are right and the world is wrong.

Yet there is another place to go to. It is the place of purpose. The place of focus and direction on what God has called you to do. Yesterday may have been tough for you and the temptation to leave and ‘go home’ is huge. There is a higher place where a far ranging perspective can be had. It is the place of being committed to serving God’s purpose for your life. Keep going. Today is not the day to back off.

Less arguing more kindness.

Less arguing more kindness.

John 7: 40-52

40 On hearing his words, some of the people said, “Surely this man is the Prophet.” 41 Others said, “He is the Messiah.” Still others asked, “How can the Messiah come from Galilee? 42 Does not Scripture say that the Messiah will come from David’s descendants and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?” 43 Thus the people were divided because of Jesus. 44 Some wanted to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him. 45 Finally the temple guards went back to the chief priests and the Pharisees, who asked them, “Why didn’t you bring him in?” 46 “No one ever spoke the way this man does,” the guards replied. 47 “You mean he has deceived you also?” the Pharisees retorted. 48 “Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him? 49 No! But this mob that knows nothing of the law—there is a curse on them.” 50 Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier and who was one of their own number, asked, 51 “Does our law condemn a man without first hearing him to find out what he has been doing?” 52 They replied, “Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee.”

Why are people so angry?

People get themselves caught up in nonsense arguments. Nonsense because the argument makes no sense. It is filled with pre-texts and prejudices. It was so in Jesus’ day and it was centred on him. Here are their comments as I understand them being said and what they mean:

  • “Surely Jesus is the Prophet.” “He is.” = CONVINCED
  • “How can he be coming from Galilee and not Bethlehem?” = PREJUDICED against Galileans and IGNORANT to the truth of Jesus’ birth-place.
  • “We have come back empty-handed, we couldn’t arrest him for no-one speaks like him.” = CHANGE OF HEART AND MIND.
  • “Anyone with an understanding of the Scriptures knows not to believe this man.” = CONTEMPT of those who do not hold to the same interpretation of the Scriptures, namely the Sabbath.
  • “Hold on let’s not dismiss anything new” = Lets be OPEN-MINDED.
  • “That’s the Galilean sound” = SARCASM.

 

May our world have more convinced believers in Jesus; more changes of heart and mind and more open-minded people.

What we need less of are the ignorant arguments filled with prejudices; contemptuous speaking of others and the sarcasm that is indeed the lowest form of wit. Sometimes these nonsense arguments are from places we least expect to see them.

They come from Christian feeds, Church forums and Cafés of fellowship.

Let’s start a kindness revival.

 

 

The Spirit is waiting

The Spirit is waiting

John 7: 37-39

On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

Jesus mentions the Scripture without mentioning the Scriptures. I am sure many a commentator will have their idea of which part of the Old Testament Jesus is referring to. I can imagine possibly Ezekiel or Isaiah for they come to mind.

But note that John carefully tells us not only that Jesus was thinking back scripturally but that he was looking ahead. It was to Pentecost when the Spirit will flow from their lives.

Look back and look ahead.

Jesus can do that in detail but we cannot.

We only have knowledge of the road travelled but Jesus knows what is ahead of us.

If we lean into him with our faith and if we seek to glorify him in our world then there are further works of the Spirit in front of us.

Our ancestors cheers us on and our advocate, the Spirit, is waiting for us. So we trust and magnify Jesus as we journey down this road. There is more ahead. He is waiting.

Whisper louder

Whisper louder

John 7: 30-37

At this they tried to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come. 31 Still, many in the crowd believed in him. They said, “When the Messiah comes, will he perform more signs than this man?” 32 The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering such things about him. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees sent temple guards to arrest him. 33 Jesus said, “I am with you for only a short time, and then I am going to the one who sent me. 34 You will look for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.” 35 The Jews said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we cannot find him? Will he go where our people live scattered among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks? 36 What did he mean when he said, ‘You will look for me, but you will not find me,’ and ‘Where I am, you cannot come’?”

In verse 13 the crowd were afraid to say anything about Jesus publicly for fear of the religious leaders.

Intimidation will keep you silent. It will keep you just talking privately with those of the same kind. Intimidation silences the Church.

The whisper needs to become loud so that it can be heard, v32:

“No one can perform more miracles than Jesus.”

“We have convincing evidence that Jesus is the Messiah.” (Message)

“No one will do more signs than Jesus, he is the Christ” (NKJV)

Let us all find the courage to whisper louder.