March 26 – Today’s Readings – John 7-8 and Psalms 85
Today’s reading highlights the reasons the Jewish leaders wanted to kill Jesus. The things He taught were extremely controversial (blasphemous) for the traditional legalistic Jew. He told them that they were to eat His body and drink His blood – that His teaching was not His own but that it came directly from His Father who was God Almighty – He called Himself the “I Am”, a holy name reserved for God alone – He said that He was of His Father God and the Jewish leaders were of their father, the Devil – He told them that He was going to a place they could not go – He taught that if anyone was thirsty and came to Him then “streams of living water would flow from within” them – He told them that if they destroyed “this temple”, He would raise it up in three days – He said that He was not of this world – He condemned them, saying that they would die in their sins – He proclaimed Himself to be Eternal saying, “before Abraham was I Am” – and finally He told them that if anyone “keeps my word , he will never see death”.
To the Jews these were either the words of a mad man or a demon possessed man. In our present society, these would certainly be words that could land a man in a psych ward. How could a flesh and blood person say such things about himself? No human being could possibly be all that He said He was – only a God-Man could do this – someone who could confirm His words with miraculous “signs and wonders”. The miracles Jesus preformed were done in part to back up His claims. Indeed, His would have been the empty words of a mentally ill person had He not demonstrated His claims by His teaching and His miracles.
So what is the verdict to all of this? Jesus was and is either a madman or He is God. His words and actions leave no room for any other opinion. There is no way around it – we either believe that Jesus Christ is who He said He is or we dismiss Him as a sadly deluded and insane washout (who happens to have incredible supernatural powers).
Let’s take this a step further. Christians also make “ridiculous” claims. We claim to speak with God and hear His voice. We claim to have eternal life. We claim that if people believe what we believe, they too will live eternally in heaven. We also boldly state that Jesus is alive and well – doing miracles and personally taking care of us today! These words are foolishness to those who haven’t met Christ. Only visible “signs” will give some proof to the world that we speak the truth. Jesus said, “By their fruit you shall know them”. He also said, “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples – if you have love one for another”. The Gospel of Mark (KJV) declares that signs and wonders will follow those who believe. It really is no different today than it was in Jesus’ time – we need to be demonstrating God’s love, character, and power in our everyday lives so that our claims can be received and our God can be revealed to hungry hearts.
1. Comment on some other “outrageous” claims Jesus made.
2. Comment on why unbelievers often have problems with the claims we make as disciples of Christ.