John 9:4-5 :: “We/I”

As long as it is day,(A) we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”(B)

We. I.

Yesterday, I again found myself jokingly bemoaning to a friend how I long for a clear job description as a believer. It seems my question is always,What’s my job? What’s my responsibility? And what’s Your job, God?

So yesterday and today I couldn’t get past more than these 2 verses.

“We.” We get to help do the work. I’d never seen that “we” before as Jesus addressed the disciples’ question. To think, He was including them in the work of the Father! That seems so scandalous to me this morning. To involve mere breathed-life-into-dirt people in the Great Rescue Plan.

Jesus and the 12 disciples. Then, Jesus and the 70. And today, Jesus and me. Jesus and you.

Crazy.

“I.” And then, Jesus tells the guys that He’s the light of the world. (Sound familiar from John 1?)

That’s not my job. Whew. It’s both a reality to be thankful for and a reality that drills into my pride. Because, truth be told, a lot of times I can act like it’s all up to me. Like I’m supposed to be the light of the world.

That seems so obvious. So silly. But, in my flesh, I can act like that.

The pressure’s off. I get to tell people about the light and walk with them to the light and point to the light.

Kinda like the moon. No light of my own. My life has opportunity to show the real Resplendent One off.

Sounds like verse 3, doesn’t it?

John 9:1-3 :: “Display”

9 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi,(A) who sinned,(B) this man(C) or his parents,(D) that he was born blind?”

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.

Display.

At first, it seems odd — and even cruel — that, upon seeing a blind man, the disciples would question Jesus about whose “fault” it was. But, the Bible says, and their culture definitely showed that in some cases, that sicknesses and diseases could be a result of sin.

But not here.

I bet the disciples didn’t see this answer coming. (But, did they ever know what was going to come out of their Leader’s mouth???)

No one sinned. He’s blind in order that God might show off through him, Jesus says, essentially.

The word “Displayed” always takes me back to my friend and mentor, Judy Douglass, and a passage she often spoke on when we traveled together. She blogged about how we’re the display of His splendor, as Isaiah 49:3 also says.

In addition to reminding me of what Judy taught me through that Isaiah passage, this passage in John has become a purpose statement for me as I live with type 1 diabetes, too. In my 14 years of the disease, I have longed for good to come from the hard.  I want a life that makes a difference, pointing to the great Hope amidst the hard.

A broken body that gets to have the privilege of the God of the universe empowering and pouring out through me, displaying His splendor.

Suddenly, that changes my Tuesday.

One of my favorite displays of God’s splendor who looks like she got caught with her hand in the plastic kiddie cookie jar.

John 8:54-59 :: “I AM”

54 Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself,(A) my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me.(B) 55 Though you do not know him,(C) I know him.(D) If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and keep his word.(E) 56 Your father Abraham(F) rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it(G) and was glad.”

57 “You are not yet fifty years old,” the Jews said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!”

58 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born,(H) I am!”(I) 59 At this, they picked up stones to stone him,(J) but Jesus hid himself,(K) slipping away from the temple grounds.

I AM.

Note to self, John 8 is the chapter to talk folks to when they wonder who Jesus said he was. And, like Josh McDowell, has said, you can’t say Jesus was a nice guy. He was either a liar, a lunatic, or He’s Lord.

I think this passage today dots the period on that sentence in a way that we, in Western Civilization, don’t understand.

Jesus, starting in verse 12, speaks of who He is and who His Father is. He talks about how He makes choices and who He follows. Over and over — almost ad nauseum, but obviously not for the unbelieving Jews — He talks about who He is. Patiently — oh, my, how patiently — going over the same Q&A. Over and over.

But the silver bullet hits the chest in verse 58.

The Jews are accusing Jesus of basically hallucinating an encounter with Abraham when Jesus says it.

I AM.

The fact that the response is that the men pick up stones to stone Him, tells you that they understood, perfectly, what Jesus just said.

Jesus was telling them that He’s God. And you get stoned for that.

Again, as I’ve read this week, my heart is so grateful that Jesus clearly tells us who He is, in the Word. And He doesn’t just tell us once. He’s beckoning oft-unbelieving men and women, made in His image, to believe in Him.

To believe in I AM.

John 8:48-53 :: “honor”

48 The people retorted, “You Samaritan devil! Didn’t we say all along that you were possessed by a demon?”

49 “No,” Jesus said, “I have no demon in me. For I honor my Father—and you dishonor me. 50 And though I have no wish to glorify myself, God is going to glorify me. He is the true judge. 51 I tell you the truth, anyone who obeys my teaching will never die!”

52 The people said, “Now we know you are possessed by a demon. Even Abraham and the prophets died, but you say, ‘Anyone who obeys my teaching will never die!’ 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?”

Honor.

I use BibleGateway.com often and when I opened it today to copy this passage, it defaulted to New Living Translation. It’s a great translation that puts the Word in today’s words but without loosing its grip on accuracy of the original language. Refreshing, too, especially if I’ve read the passage often and need to back up a bit and see it again with new eyes.

And that happened today. The heated arguments seem closer — I can see spit flying along with words from the angry mouths of the this-is-how-we’ve-always-believed Jews.

They have believed the way they do forever. Who did Jesus think he was to propose he was greater than Abraham?

They’re beloved patriarch Abraham.

Abraham whom they honor.

And this passage seems to build on the trend that I’m seeing in John — a choice the Jews had of whom they honored. And then continue to choose to dishonor Jesus with their unbelief.

I’m trying to wrap my head around how Jesus — as 100% God and 100% man — would have received their cutting accusations.

“You Samaritan devil! Didn’t we say all along that you were possessed by a demon?”

Heartwrenchingly (if a word) ironic.

Jesus, the Savior of the world and Hero of the Battle to end all battles, accused of being the very enemy he defeats.

How that motivates me to want to choose to honor and believe Jesus today.

John 8:42-47 :: “belong”

42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me. 43 Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! 46 Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47 He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”

Belong.

Another warm, fuzzy picture of Jesus. Makes me think of one of my favorite comedians, Tim Hawkins, and his entrepreneurial idea to create a Bible for kids that includes all sorts of lesser-known stories of the Bible. You know, the things that we adults want to skim over, too.

I think this section of John would fit in nicely in that Bible.

“Mama, what does it mean when Jesus says that their father is the devil? Is that like what you say to other people when we’re in the car?”

Yeah.

Jesus isn’t easy to put in a box. Walking through John — and blogging about the journey — has been humbling. Half the time I think, “I don’t know why He did that.”

So, with this passage, I’m asking God to reveal what I can understand and it seems to be about belonging. A hard truth that isn’t politically correct. At all. But here’s what I see.

We belong to either a) the Devil, wanting to carry out his desire or b) God, wanting to carry out His desire.

But if Jesus is saying it, it’s important. And it’s True. (Isn’t that what He’s been saying to the Jews this entire book? “Listen to Me. I’m Truth.”?)

I know. It makes me uncomfortable. Not something you want to go running out to shout on the street corner.

And yet I do want to go tell people. Because for those of us who placed our trust in Jesus, we were saved. Have you considered what you were saved from?

Colossians 1:13-14 reminds us of where we used to belong. I go to bed giving great thanks for Whom I belong to now.

13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption,[b] the forgiveness of sins.

John 8:37-41 :: “no room”

37 I know you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word. 38 I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you do what you have heard from your father.[a]

39 “Abraham is our father,” they answered.

“If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would[b] do the things Abraham did. 40 As it is, you are determined to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. 41 You are doing the things your own father does.”

“We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.”

No room.

I can’t help but think that Jesus’ earthly life is book ended by this response from the very people He created.

No room — in the Inn — at His birth.

No room — for the truth of His Word — at the end.

Whoever argues that Jesus was just a good man, petting sheep and walking slowly over grassy hills with a flowing white robe isn’t reading the Bible. On our journey through John we’re see who He really is.

God incarnate who doesn’t mince words.

“You’re ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word.” (John 8:37).

Yowza, as we say in the Bring family.

I’m so glad He doesn’t mince words. I want to know truth and follow Truth. Don’t you?

He’s spouting this seemingly-harsh words toward those who aren’t believers, but I can’t help but know there’s something for me in this.

Do I make room for His Word? Do I adjust my life — in all areas — to His Word and truth or do I try to make Him fit into what I want to do; what I want my life to be?

How much better it is when I do!

Making room for His Word — timewise — is a bit of a challenge in this season, but so delicious to dig in when I do! And, no, we didn’t suddenly adopt. This is our dear friend, Lola Grace, over for breakfast while her parents took her little brother to the doctor. Whew! A taste of a sweaty morning getting 2 little ones ready and out the door. We had a special day of prayer for all our Orlando Campus Crusade staff members and I was able to go since childcare was provided. Yippee!

John 8:31-36 :: “free”

 31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

33 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants[a] and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”

34 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Free.

In my 9th grade math class, Ms. Penner, taught us two key life lessons. 1. Always do your homework. Never come to class unprepared. 2. Logic problems aren’t only in math class. Life is full of them.

If this, then this.

If this isn’t, then this isn’t.

So, I’ve been looking at verse 31 and wrestling with how to break it down.

Could it be said…

  • If you live life in light of things Jesus taught
  • it’s a sign that you really are a follower of Jesus
  • (and if you’re a follower of Jesus)
  • you will (automatically, because of the Holy Spirit living in you) know the truth of what’s been done for you/who Jesus is/etc.
  • and that truth will set you free

Free with a capital F. Freed from my sin. Won over by Christ. I passed over from death to life (John 5:24).

Again, I love the honest questions from the Jews. “Ummm…we’re not slaves to anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” Jesus says all sorts of confusing things, I’d be thinking if I was in the group.

This morning I was listening to a great talk on my ipod as I took Lizzy on a walk. It was called Bringing the Gospel Home and, at the end, gave the great challenge that, amidst longing for everyone in Scott and my family to know Jesus, perhaps a powerful thing is for me to remember who I was before He saved me.

In that list I’d include a slave.

How important to remember that, in being free, I was rescued from slavery. Because, if I don’t consider that I needed saving, I think I’m golden–free in my own right. And I’m as confused as the Jews who thought they were free but weren’t.

I’m smiling. I’m thinking about the scene now — forgot to do that until now — and I see Freedom standing in front of these Jewish men. Wow. Freedom offering Himself, telling them in numerous ways who He is (John 8:25).

If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

That’s good news for those spiritually searching, as God opens your eyes to the fact that you are a slave…and gives you the desire to ask Him for freedom. And that is good news for us who are believers, to remember and be thankful for what He’s done!

John 8:25-30 :: tell/speak/do

25“Who are you?” they asked.

“Just what I have been claiming all along,” Jesus replied. 26 “I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is reliable, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.”

27 They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father. 28 So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. 29 The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.” 30 Even as he spoke, many put their faith in him.

Tell. Speak. Do.

Yuck. Another day where I feel like my mouth and brain are diametrically opposed. My mouth says, “I’ma goin’ this way,” and my brain begs, “Nooooo! You know that’ll only lead to bad things.” (Yep, “bad things.” My brain can’t even grasp bigger, more important ways of saying common things. Scott and I are trying to remedy that by reading Bonhoffer — along with a dictionary — but I think it’ll take longer than I have.)

I think I’ll struggle with my tongue, in some way, until that final day it stops wagging. Lately, it wags when I feel out of control. My little ducks have been less than in line now, for over a year. There is little closure to my day, so I clamor for means of controlling other things. Other people.

Like Scott.

Yuck.

I first saw this pattern for what it was, thanks to my roommate, Jodi, as she Nancy Drew-d my reality. I think it was a Saturday. I’d gotten fed up with how I could never see what spices we had, so got out stickers to put on top of the lids so, when I pulled out the container of them, I’d see the names. My friend, Angel, had just left after helping me put a closet organizer in.

Jodi came into my room and asked, “You organized the spices and built a closet organizer today. Are you feeling out of control in some area?”

Ah, wise Jodi. Well, yes. I was. I couldn’t tell you what it was, but I’ve never forgotten that day.

So…where was I and how did I get to this story? Oh, yes. Jesus’ words.

Jesus’ words and actions were never of his own initiative. This is the second clear time I remember seeing that truth in John.

  • “…what I have heard from [The Father] I tell the world” (v. 26).
  • “…I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me” (v. 28).
  • “…for I always do what pleases [the Father]” (v.29).

In reading, and rereading this passage for the past few days, these 3 descriptions are so beautifully compelling. I wonder if that’s, in part, why “even as He spoke, many put their faith in Him” (v. 30).

Beautifully compelling because I want to live like that! Oh, but I don’t. To be honest to the work God’s done in my life, my tongue isn’t what it was. For sure. When I first joined as a missionary with Campus Crusade for Christ, my trainer had me study the book of James. Knife to chest. If you know anything about James, it’s about the tongue.

So, yes, by God’s grace and the Holy Spirit’s power in me, He’s changed me. Oh, but there’s such an ache in me to fully live out who He’s made me to be.

To not clamor. To not spin, seek to arrange or control events. Rather to have a heart at rest. Not compelled to believe that it’s all up to me. (What a prideful lie.)

But to allow God to choose my words and actions.

That would be highly pleasing for everyone involved.

{Again, I’m sorry Honey. Thank you for loving me and showing me grace even when I’m not giving grace to you.}

John 8:19-24 :: “Offering”

 19 Then [the Pharisees] asked him, “Where is your father?”

“You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” 20 He spoke these words while teaching in the temple area near the place where the offerings were put. Yet no one seized him, because his time had not yet come.

21 Once more Jesus said to them, “I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come.”

22 This made the Jews ask, “Will he kill himself? Is that why he says, ‘Where I go, you cannot come’?”

23 But he continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be,[a] you will indeed die in your sins.”

Offering.

As we just remembered, on Good Friday, Jesus’ death on the cross — in our stead — it’s so timely that God would bring “offering” to my eyes for the first time in this passage.

Jesus is in the temple courts teaching.

But where is he standing? I’d never noticed before. Probably because I’d never paid any attention to where Jesus stood. I usually read for action, not for location.

He’s “near the place where the offerings were put” (v. 20). And He’s saying, “You don’t know Me or My Father” (v. 19).

The Lamb of Life is standing near where offerings were put and He’s saying, in essence, “You don’t realize I’m God and I’ve come to give My life for you. I have a secret rescue plan but you don’t see it.”

Jesus is the offering.

May that reality stir me to deeper thankfulness this weekend!

John 9:12-18 :: “Light”

12When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

13 The Pharisees challenged him, “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.”

14 Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going. 15 You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. 16 But if I do judge, my decisions are right, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me. 17 In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two men is valid. 18 I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.”

Light.

So, there’s a theme here in John. Is this the 18th time I’ve picked “light” as my key word/phrase? Ok, maybe not 18, but a definite full-handful of times.

This is Easter week and what a perfect passage to consider today.

I probably shouldn’t have turned on any form of news until I got into the Word today, but I did.

There’s still so much hurt and anger around the killing of Trayvon Martin, just 30 minutes from our home.

There’s a new phone app that makes it easy for stalkers to see single women who are in their GPS location.

An ex-Orlando teacher pleads guilty to traveling for sex with a child.

I feel nauseated.

If there’s a time I’m thankful for hope, for Light in the darkness, it’s now.

And this week reminds me, all over again, that Jesus died with the weight of sin for all this darkness (my mind can’t even imagine the gravity of that) when He bore it all (past, present and future sin of the world) as He went to the cross.

That’s why it’s called Good Friday.

He took my place.

And Sunday, He triumphed over the death He died, rising again.

Light is here!