No stones? (John 2)

When you read the stories in the New Testament you don’t often get the picture that the Jews of Jesus’ time were people who sat by and took whatever was dealt to them.  Often times we see them trying to stone people to death, and once we saw them try to push Jesus off of a cliff!

I’m not posting this to say that the Jews were a violent people in general.  But when reading the second half of John 2, one should consider the tendencies that many of the people had when it came to deeds and services related to God.  In religious matters, one could not go about doing as he pleased if it was in opposition to the religious leaders.

One certainly couldn’t go around overturning the merchant tables at the temple, and threatening people with a whip.  But we see a unique event recorded in John 2.  Jesus turned the tables over, threatening violence.  And guess what…

They had nothing to say for themselves, and they did not threaten Christ.

There was something about Jesus, a presence, it seems, that people could not deny.  Here in this passage nobody attacks Jesus.  In fact, nobody even accuses Him of wrong doing.  Sure, they ask Him by what authority He did what He did.  But that’s all they did.  They never even defended their market.

We see Jesus’ presence come into play in other places too.  The main one that comes to my mind is when the soldiers first came to take Christ away to be crucified.  When they ask for Jesus He replies with “I am He”, and they all fall to the ground!  I don’t know what exactly happened, but it cannot be denied that Jesus had a special presence.

And I think that it may be good for us to remember that Christ has the right to be that way in the hearts of other Christians.  Sometimes we see a brother or sister struggling in sin, and we neglect our duty to tell them what Christ says.  Sure, we’re to do so in gentleness, but we are to approach them just the same.

So if you have let Christ be the Lord of your life, listen to Him and let others hear what He says.  Trust that Jesus is the only one who can truly help people.  And trust that if He be lifted up, He will draw all men unto Himself.

We destroyed His body, and He rose it up in three days.  We are God’s temple, and he can raise us up as well.  Nobody has grounds to deny His zeal. 

None have stones to throw when Jesus clears the temple.

It’s YOU!

Continuing on in John 1…

So imagine you are born as a Jew into the world around 3AD, and as you grow up you are taught the truth of Judaism.  You embrace Judaism, and Jehovah God.  And as you grow up you hear your family talking; they speak of the Messiah being already born, and of salvation for the Jews finally being at hand.

Now imagine what it would have been like to read Isaiah 40:1-2:

“Comfort, comfort my people,
says your God. 
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,
that her sin has been paid for,
that she has received from the LORD’s hand
double for all her sins.”

Imagine you’re trying to work through all that, not knowing what we in the 21st century know about Jesus and His blood. The passage is talking about something big, about a change.  God Himself is going do something amazing for His people.

Then you read the next three verses:

“A voice of one calling:
“In the desert prepare
the way for the LORD;
make straight in the wilderness
a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be raised up,
every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
the rugged places a plain.
And the glory of the LORD will be revealed,
and all mankind together will see it.
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” “

Wouldn’t you be eager to hear this voice?  Wouldn’t you want to find the one calling out?  Now imagine, if you can, that you are told that you are to be that voice!  And it’s not just some dude coming up to you and saying “Hey, what if…”  You know without a shadow of a doubt that this passage is speaking specifically, directly, and exclusively about you.  You! 

There’s a prophecy about you in the Holy Writ.  People have been reading this for hundreds of years and wondering who it would be.  When it would be.  How it would happen…  Well, now you must show them.

That’s a lot to take in for one sitting.

And then imagine that you continue in your walk with God, learning more about His word.  You have to now view Scripture knowing that you are a part of it in a way that’s different.  Your free will choices will prove the prophecy true, and you know that somehow it will not be any other way.  You read on about the Messiah, and now you must think about your direct involvement with Him here on earth.  For you are the one who is to reveal Him to Israel.

You are John the Baptist, the voice in the desert.

What a life directing event!  What a mind-altering realization! 

What a burden…

What an honor!!

So John followed what the Scripture said he would do.  He revealed the Christ, who by the way happened to be a man he was related to.  It’s hard for me to put myself in John’s position.  The man from the prophecy in Isaiah 40.  The man who would show the world who the Messiah was.

I don’t know how exactly how John found out this passage was about Him.  But one didn’t just go around Jerusalem claiming to be the voice in Isaiah 40.  One didn’t casually go around declaring who the Messiah was.  And we see the humility John displays when they asked who he was; he said he’s not even worthy of loosing a sandal strap.  This wasn’t a man who had any reason to doubt the fact, or a proud man looking to pull one over on people.  Somehow John knew for sure that he was the one the Scripture spoke about.

Can you imagine?

John 1- Jesus is God

Jesus is God.  Why is that so hard for people to accept?

 

I’ll admit, understanding the nature of God can be difficult.  How can Three be One, and One be Three?  What’s the difference between Them?  How exactly does the Holy Spirit live in us, and how does He move us?  Why didn’t God make another way for our sins to be forgiven, some other way that didn’t include Jesus dying?  How can He be eternal?  Why does He allow evil?

 

These are difficult things to understand, and I don’t know that any man can fully explain any of them.  But I don’t believe that they are difficult to accept.

 

Understanding and acceptance are not the same.  Sure they relate to each other, and even lead to each other.  But one cannot call them equals.  We do not need to understand God to accept what He says about Himself.  Why is it so hard for people to accept that Jesus is God?

 

There are a lot of things we do not understand, yet we accept them without reserve.  Do we understand how gravity works, what drives it?  Do we know why music impacts us so deeply?  Why a beautiful sunset makes any difference to us at all?  Do you know exactly how your brain is interpreting the words you’re reading right now?  How do you know for sure that you even have a brain?  If you’ve seen your own brain, how do you know it does all the things that you’re told it does?  Who can explain life itself? 

 

This list could probably go on for the rest of your life.

 

We accept so many things that we don’t understand.  We accept so much understanding based on what others tell us is true.  Certain truths force themselves upon us in the fact that we live in reality.  We accept them as true, or deny reality.  Our understanding of a thing does not always accompany acceptance of the thing.

 

Why is it so hard for people to accept that Jesus is God?

 

John 1:1 says, speaking of Jesus, “the Word was God.”  We accept the Bible as God’s truth, and that God is always true.  But some feel that God did not communicate exactly as He should have.  So they add in little words to alter the truth of the statement.  For those who don’t know what I’m referring to, I’m speaking mostly of the Watchtower here.  They are the authority of those who falsely call themselves “Jehovah’s Witnesses”.

 

It amazes me how people in general can be so blind.  This is an example of that.  One only needs to read the text here (without added words) to see the point of the entire passage: Jesus is God, and He has come to His own people.  Yet they take a few verses and alter them in an effort to take that meaning away.

 

It’s like taking a picture of a mountain, and writing a caption that says “This is an anthill.”  It’s like writing the biography of an 80 year old man and saying “He only lived to be two years old.”  It’s like pointing to the moon and calling it a firefly.  It’s a foolish and obviously desperately intentional attempt to use Truth to speak against Itself. 

 

But Truth can never speak against itself, for it is always True.

 

Jesus declared Himself to be God.  Jesus is God.  We are not called to fully understand that fact.  But we are called to accept, embrace, and love it. 

 

To accept, embrace, and love Him.