Sunday, April 4, 2010

Life of Christ Devotional - Jn 5:16-30

"So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted him. Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.” For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him. “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man. “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me." (John 5:16-30)

The religious leaders missed it. A miracle was walking right before their very eyes and all they could see was his mat. A lame man could now walk and instead of thanking Jesus or asking him how this could be, they persecuted him. They ridiculed him in order to discredit him in public. It seems to me that it would be an odd conversation to listen to.
“Jesus, how dare you, healing this man on the Sabbath. Now he walks and carries his mat. You have not healed him! You have caused him to sin by working on this most holy day,” said the religious leaders.
“This man has been lame for almost 40 years,” said Jesus. “Shouldn’t we all be rejoicing that he can walk at all?”
“Why would we?” argue the religious leaders. “You say he has been lame for almost 40 years. Why didn’t you wait one more day to avoid the Sabbath?”
“It would not matter,” Jesus said regretfully. “You would have found something wrong with that as well. You do not have eyes to see beyond your law, to observe the miracle and to seek the source of the one who has performed it. Do you not understand who I am? I am not a magician, or a criminal, or one who ignores the Law. I came that you may have life that only I can give. I am here for you! Everything I do is as my Father has instructed me. I do nothing outside of His perfect will. When you see me, you see God. And if you reject me, you reject God.”
The religious leaders understood what Jesus said and their anger raged. Jesus is claiming to be God in human form. This does not fit their expectation. They believed God would come as a powerful cosmic ruler from on high to restore peace on earth and give his people dominion over all the nations. Jesus is just a man. He did not meet their expectations and they left no room for faith.
They whispered to one another about what they could do to kill him in such a way that they could remain innocent in the eyes of the people. This was not going to be easy since Jesus was becoming so popular. All the more reason to do something quick before the loyalty of the people turned from the control of the religious leaders to the freedom found in the love of Jesus.
You and I can be guilty of the same mistake. Like the religious leaders, we can draw a conclusion in our own mind about how God should work. We can become so convinced in our own expectations that we leave no room for faith. This sinful pride and arrogance is an insurmountable barrier to believing and trusting God.
Instead, the one who is humble, who recognizes that he does not have all the answers and asks God to give him eyes to see and the faith to believe. This is the one who experiences the greatest miracle of all.
Today, put your expectations aside, humble yourself and ask God to give you eyes to see and the faith to believe.

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