Knee Jerk Devotional: December 21, 2020

John 5:30-47

Passage:

"I can't do a solitary thing on my own: I listen, then I decide. You can trust my decision because I'm not out to get my own way but only to carry out orders. If I were simply speaking on my own account, it would be an empty, self-serving witness. But an independent witness confirms me, the most reliable Witness of all. Furthermore, you all saw and heard John, and he gave expert and reliable testimony about me, didn't he?

"But my purpose is not to get your vote, and not to appeal to mere human testimony. I'm speaking to you this way so that you will be saved. John was a torch, blazing and bright, and you were glad enough to dance for an hour or so in his bright light. But the witness that really confirms me far exceeds John's witness. It's the work the Father gave me to complete. These very tasks, as I go about completing them, confirm that the Father, in fact, sent me. The Father who sent me, confirmed me. And you missed it. You never heard his voice, you never saw his appearance. There is nothing left in your memory of his Message because you do not take his Messenger seriously.

"You have your heads in your Bibles constantly because you think you'll find eternal life there. But you miss the forest for the trees. These Scriptures are all about me! And here I am, standing right before you, and you aren't willing to receive from me the life you say you want.

"I'm not interested in crowd approval. And do you know why? Because I know you and your crowds. I know that love, especially God's love, is not on your working agenda. I came with the authority of my Father, and you either dismiss me or avoid me. If another came, acting self-important, you would welcome him with open arms. How do you expect to get anywhere with God when you spend all your time jockeying for position with each other, ranking your rivals and ignoring God?

"But don't think I'm going to accuse you before my Father. Moses, in whom you put so much stock, is your accuser. If you believed, really believed, what Moses said, you would believe me. He wrote of me. If you won't take seriously what he wrote, how can I expect you to take seriously what I speak?"

I know that love, especially God's love, is not on your working agenda. I came with the authority of my Father, and you either dismiss me or avoid me.

Ouch.

This is why I love The Message. Peterson gets to the heart of things so well and often provides an old reading a fresh perspective.

The NIV translates those verses this way, “I do not accept glory from human beings, but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him.”

It still hits, but not in the same way.

That statement, “You either dismiss me or avoid me.” OUCH.

That’s just crazy hard to hear.

Jesus doesn’t play around.

The thing is, it’s completely and utterly true. We either avoid him or dismiss him. The same problem the religious leaders of his day had are the same problems that religious folks of our day have. We have our heads shoved so far into our bibles that we miss the forest for the trees. We are so concerned with trying to get religion right that we actively go out of way to not practice empathy, compassion, and a subversive-gracious-love.

When we come to a person who needs love we often seek to make a decision about whether or not they’re worthy of love. Here’s the deal, if they are created in the image of God then they are worthy of our love. They are worthy of our putting our arms around them and bringing them into a loving and faithful community.

Too many times my colleagues and I wrestle not with the bible but with things like “confessions” or “systematics.”

We shake our heads at the Pharisees of the Gospels who had created secondary and tertiary laws to keep them breaking God’s law. Yet, we do the same thing. We have created and written confessions of faith that are now used as ideological boundary markers to keep “people in line.”

At least the Pharisees were focused on right living. We are focused not on right living but on right believing. Their focus was orthopraxy, ours orthodoxy.

The problem is that in our quest for “rightness” we have missed “righteousness.”

We police people with rules and laws as opposed to entering in with them and inviting them to the table of fellowship. There is a belief that if we can simply tell them what to believe they will change their lives. Jesus argued for a display of a transcendent life that would create an opportunity for others to ask, “Why do you live this way?”

We will never get to the transcendent life that Jesus calls us to if we continue to avoid or dismiss him.

As you consider the teaching and life of Jesus are you dodging him or are you truly seeking to be his apprentice? So often I try to dodge him. Thankfully, he’s really good at hide and seek.

The Knee Jerk Devotional Podcast

The #LoveWell Podcast