Never has anyone spoken like this!

Then the temple police went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, “Why did you not arrest him?” The police answered, “Never has anyone spoken like this!” Then the Pharisees replied, “Surely you have not been deceived too, have you? Has any one of the authorities or of the Pharisees believed in him? But this crowd, which does not know the law—they are accursed.” -John 7:45-49 NRSV

Jesus spoke amazing words of life, compassion and healing, yet some believed him to be a heretic. Faith and hope were birthed in many who heard him speak. But sadly, those who were bound up in religion proudly opposed Jesus and his message of mercy and compassion. Small wonder that Christ called them hypocrites devoid of mercy.

And even today, leaders still seems to be preoccupied with religious orthodoxy more than they are with mercy and compassion. I sometimes wonder if they would recognize Christ if he appeared to them today. These who are versed in doctrine, would they too call others accursed? Or would they repent of their narrow orthodoxy and welcome them?

Help is Lord to be people who welcome those who welcome you.

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

There was division ... because of Him.

Some in the crowd said, “This is really the prophet.” Others said, “This is the Messiah.” But some asked, “Surely the Messiah does not come from Galilee, does he? Has not the scripture said that the Messiah is descended from David and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?” So there was a division in the crowd because of him. Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.  [John 7:40-44 NRSV]

Throughout history there has been divisions about the identity of Christ. Theologians have sometimes called it a trilemma. Scottish preacher John Duncan put it this way: "Christ either deceived mankind by conscious fraud, or He was Himself deluded and self-deceived, or He was Divine. There is no getting out of this trilemma. It is inexorable."

Interesting how Jesus could have settled much of this when he became man. He could have come like Superman and showed us his physical strength. He could have gone around saying that he is the messiah. But he seemed to want to remain anonymous. He was happy with being Clark Kent. He left so much of this identity thing to faith.

Open the eyes of our hearts Lord that we might see you and understand who you really are.

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

Rivers of Living Water

On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’” Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified. -John 7:37-39 NRSV

This is one of my favorite Jesus quotes. He does not say that believing in him will cause a person to get their act together and be more religious but speaks of an inner change that erupts into life giving water. Being a Christian has never been about following religious rules. That was what got the Pharisees in trouble. They worked from the outside in.

Being a Christian has always been about a new heart. A spiritual birth. Inner life that grows from birth to infancy to maturity. Something that flows like a river from our innermost being. My life changed dramatically when I was born of the Spirit so many years ago. My desires changed as I felt the Spirit flow from deep within in me.

Help me Lord to live from my new heart. Cause me to remember who I am and who I am called to be.

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

I am going to him who sent me.

Jesus then said, “I will be with you a little while longer, and then I am going to him who sent me. You will search for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.” The Jews said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we will not find him? Does he intend to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks and teach the Greeks? What does he mean by saying, ‘You will search for me and you will not find me’ and ‘Where I am, you cannot come’?” -John 7:33-36 NRSV

It is easy for us to look back and understand that Jesus was speaking of returning to his Father in heaven. Many things that are apparent today seemed hidden back then. I mean really, who could have foreseen the turn of events that led up to Jesus being crucified? Yet in this passage we understand that Jesus has seen his future suffering and death.

Sometimes I wish that I had an understanding of my future. Other times I am glad that our Father has not chosen to reveal it to me. Yet while I do not know the details of my earthly death I am overjoyed that God has told me a bit of the place I will go after I die. A place with no pain and no tears. An eternal home where I am loved. A destination filled with God.

Thank you Lord for the hope of heaven. May I live today as one who knows his heavenly citizenship.

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

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.