You do not know him ...

Jesus cried out as he was teaching in the temple, “You know me, and you know where I am from. I have not come on my own. But the one who sent me is true, and you do not know him. I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.” Then they tried to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him, because his hour had not yet come. Yet many in the crowd believed in him and were saying, “When the Messiah comes, will he do more signs than this man has done?”
[John 7:28-31 NRSV]   

Jesus is such a polarizing figure. Some in this passage tried to arrest him while others saw him as the Messiah.
Isn't it interesting how people reacted so differently to him? I think that is true even today. Seeing Jesus has always required the inner vision of the Holy Spirit. And those who resist His work are blinded to spiritual things.

I love how Jesus speaks about knowing God. He declared that he actually knew God. He then made it known that those who rejected him did not know God. That is such a bold statement. In truth, knowing God is what real life is all about. Knowing about God or even about what the bible says is not enough. But through prayer we can know Him.

Help us to know you Lord. Fill us with your Spirit as we turn our hearts towards you.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the Gospel of John.

Do not judge by appearances ...

“Did not Moses give you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why are you looking for an opportunity to kill me?” The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who is trying to kill you?” Jesus answered them, “I performed one work, and all of you are astonished. Moses gave you circumcision (it is, of course, not from Moses, but from the patriarchs), and you circumcise a man on the sabbath. If a man receives circumcision on the sabbath in order that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because I healed a man’s whole body on the sabbath? Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” -John 7:19-24 NRSV

One of my favorite passages in the scriptures is when the prophet Samuel goes to Jesse's family looking for a man to replace King Saul. As he examines Jesse's sons he looks primarily at their outward appearance. He has not learned much since he chose Saul as king. His selection criteria seems to be the same. He is looking for a man who looks like a king. Samuel wants a tall man like Saul. A man who looks like a king. Samuel was certainly judging by appearances. Until God Spoke to him and told him to transcend his outer vision and see with the eyes of his spirit.

Like Samuel, the folks who accused Jesus of having a demon were bound up in their outward religion. These, who seemed to love the law of Moses, missed the very heart of what the law taught and required. These could not see the Son of God among them because their focus was on external rules like not healing on the Sabbath. Like Samuel, they wanted a Saul and not a David. They judged by outward appearances. These were looking for an earthly king. They were angry and could not see the heart of Jesus because they were blinded by appearances.

Lord help us to see as you see. Help us to not judge by appearances. Give us eyes to see the heart.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the Gospel of John.

My teaching is not mine but his who sent me.

About the middle of the festival Jesus went up into the temple and began to teach. The Jews were astonished at it, saying, “How does this man have such learning, when he has never been taught?” Then Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine but his who sent me. Anyone who resolves to do the will of God will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own. Those who speak on their own seek their own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and there is nothing false in him. -John 7:14-18 NRSV

Some think that the Jesus' teachings were those he learned on a trip to another land. Some think that he was a disciple of John the Baptist. From a human perspective it is difficult to accept that his teachings were original and not copied. He always seemed to go right to the heart of an issue. He had the ability to transcend his religious teaching and heritage.

The folks of his day, and of ours too, struggled not because they could not understand his teaching but because they would not. To understand the scriptures one must, as Jesus puts it here, resolve to do the will of God and seek to glorify Him. To do this we must also be willing to transcend the limitations of our religious teachings and heritage.

Give us open hearts and hearing ears Lord that we may transcend our human limitations.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the Gospel of John.

My time has not yet come ...

He did not wish to go about in Judea because the Jews were looking for an opportunity to kill him. ... Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify against it that its works are evil. -John 7:1,6-7 NRSV

It is an odd scenario. God has appeared in human form. Religious people are plotting to kill him not for heresy but because of hatred. The ones who should reflect love and mercy have given themselves over to hate and violence. Such is the state of religion back then. Such is the condition of religion today. Abuse of power seems to permeate religion.

Yet I am in awe of Christ's wisdom and discernment. It would have been so easy for impatience to overwhelm him. His words challenge me to discern the season and time that I live in. I am so often driven by impulse. Patience seems so far away and yet so very near. It is an issue of discerning His voice. And trusting God's leading with all of my heart.

Teach me to discern the day Lord. Grant me patience in my decisions. Help me to trust you with all I am.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the Gospel of John.

You have the words of eternal life.

Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. So Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve? Yet one of you is a devil.” He was speaking of Judas son of Simon Iscariot, for he, though one of the twelve, was going to betray him. -John 6:66-71 NRSV

Jesus has been speaking about how the Spirit gives life and not the flesh. It is a difficult teaching for those who experience life in fleshly activities. In reality, I too struggle with this teaching. Sometimes, when life is turned inside out and pain knocks on my front door, God seems far away. And my faith seems so weak when I am hurting.

These words of Jesus challenge me. Will I be one who perseveres in faith? Or will I be one who turns back in unbelief? In these times I echo Peter's words. I have built my life on the words of Jesus. He is the one who gives me life in times of deep sorrow. I believe that he is the Messiah, the Holy One of God. It is because of Christ that I persevere in trial.

Help me to remember Lord. And hold fast to your words. You indeed have the words of eternal life.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the Gospel of John.

Some who do not believe ...

It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But among you there are some who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him. And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.” -John 6:63-65 NRSV

It is an age old debate. Does God grant the ability to believe to just a few or does that ability lie within each of us? Doubtful in these few sentences that I will sway you one way or another on that question. Yet it is clear that John was thinking about Judas Iscariot when he wrote about how people could be outwardly religious yet inwardly unbelieving.

Interesting how John only knew this after Judas betrayed Christ. It is like he was telling us that no one but Christ knows who truly believes. The point was not to answer the question that I posed above but to speak to each of us about believing the words that give us "spirit and life" and to allow ourselves to be drawn and led by the Spirit.

Father, grant us to come to you today. Renew us that we might receive your life and your Spirit.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the Gospel of John.

It is the spirit that gives life ...

When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, “Does this offend you? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. -John 6:60-63 NRSV

I wonder what the disciples were saying to each other when Jesus spoke to them of eating his flesh and drinking his blood. To the carnal mind his words must have seemed cannibalistic in nature. Yet the words of Christ were never ever meant to be taken carnally. Eating and drinking in Christ has always been about taking his Spirit deep within.

Don't you love how Jesus connects life with spirit? When he speaks of his words being spirit and life he is teaching us what life is all about. What being human was meant to be from the very beginning. Being human has never been about human flesh but about the Spirit of God living in human flesh. To genuinely live is to live from a place deep within.

We long to see you ascending Lord. Open our eyes to what your Spirit is doing all around us.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the Gospel of John.