The Director (John 8)

The Setup

John 8 begins with the story of the woman caught in adultery.  To better understand the situation, one should note what had happened the day before.  It was the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles and the Temple Guards had returned to the Pharisees.  Contrary to their orders, they did not have Jesus with them.

The Pharisees lashed out at the guards.  Then Nicodemus questioned their methods, saying that the Law requires them to hear Jesus’ side.  The Pharisees then lashed out at Nicodemus as well.

The Plot

Now come back to the next day.  The Pharisees have been brewing in their anger all night.  They’ve been plotting. 

Jesus is teaching again in the Temple courts… their temple, as far as they are concerned.  And when they come to Jesus, they bring a woman that they just happened to catch in adultery that day.  They didn’t bring the man, mind you.  Just the woman.

And they throw this woman before Him like a dog.  They make her stand there in front of all these people that Jesus was teaching.  They’re trying to prove something to Jesus’ audience, and trying to find a reason to accuse Him.  They want the people to stop following Jesus.  And they want Jesus dead.

They pose their question to Jesus.  What they wanted was for Jesus to say “Yes, the Law says to kill her so kill her.”  If He did then in their minds not only would it look like His message of mercy was tainted, but it would also give them Jesus’ own approval to kill in the name of the Law.  And they wanted to accuse Jesus of blasphemy, so they could kill Him.

Remember that the people were excitable.  It wasn’t exactly safe for the Pharisees to brave the crowds for the sake of killing Christ.  In the interest of self preservation, they needed the people on their side.

The Real Powerplay

It’s easy to look at this situation as just a convenient trap.  But this was a very deliberate and hate filled plot.  This was an attempt to catch Jesus in just the right place, at just the right time.

Proverbs 16:9 says:

 “A man’s mind plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps. “

This confrontation was to be no exception.  These men planned and plotted death for Jesus, and were willing to kill this woman to do it.  But Jesus came to bring life.  With a wisdom far beyond their own, Jesus turns the tables.

He didn’t use a show of force.  He didn’t use a miracle.  He simply spoke.  And with His words, Christ spoke of the same message that they were trying to quiet.  A message of love, truth and mercy.

Not only did he speak His message of mercy, but He compelled the blood lusting Pharisees to follow it.  The Lord directed their steps. 

The Mistake

If only they knew the Law…

Gennao Anothen (John 3)

What does it mean to be born again?  Nicodemus, a teacher and leader amongst the Jews, couldn’t understand it.  Many today seem not to understand it.

We know from Romans 6 that it happens at baptism.  It’s clear that it is the beginning of a new way of life.  Completely new.  Jesus tells us in this passage that it is a thing of the spirit.  He goes on to talk about the necessity of believing in Him, even though men love the darkness.  He says that when we live in the truth we come into the light so that it may be plain to see that what we’ve done is only by God.

I find that I must pause and really consider if this describes me.  In so many ways people can point to my life and say “Look, it’s still the same old Cris.  He does as he pleases.”  In so many ways I fail to live anew.  Sometimes I fool myself by taking pride in the good works I’ve done.  Sometimes by emphasizing to myself that I have been baptised just like He told me to be.  But I must remember that it is His blood that makes those things of any worth.  And the application of that blood always begins with the truth of my sin.  Without Christ they are empty and in vain.

But I must believe that God will continue the good work He has started in me, and that He’ll see me through all the way.  I must believe that because the Bible says it.  And when I do take time to pause and look at my life, I find it is plain that God has done some amazing things in me.  It’s even plainer that it was only through God that I was able to do those things.  One doesn’t need to know too much about me, or anybody else for that matter, to see the need for God.  And when one accepts God, truly accepts Him and is born again, it will be plain that what they’ve done is through God.

So look at your own life, I ask you, and see if it is plain that God has worked through you.  Remember not to get proud, because if it is indeed plain that God has worked through you then you have nothing to boast about… Only God does. 

Is it plain that through God, and not through yourself, that you are Gennao Anothen?

Here’s a couple of videos from Andrew Peterson.  Watch them as you consider whether you are truly a new creation…

 

 

Taken too lightly (John 3)

Reading over John 3, where Nicodemus speaks with Jesus, it’s almost comical to see the lack of understanding that Nicodemus had.  Jesus said a man must be born again and Nicodemus, a teacher, responds with “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born again!”  And then after Jesus explains it, he again asks “How?”

This idea, as well as many many others in Scripture, seem so easy to interpret.  But we also have a couple thousand years of study to work with.  Nicodemus was hearing this concept for the first time.  He had nothing to work with.

But I wonder, are we as impacted by this as Nicodemus was?  We understand the basic principle, but have we taken it to heart?  I fear we haven’t.  I fear we’ve instead written it off as just another thing we understand, without giving it much thought.

Being born again.

It’s not some cheap cliche.  Jesus didn’t use those.  And it’s not some empty philosophy, Jesus didn’t use that either.  No, what we have here is something of great significance.  Something more significant than whatever you’re likely going to do when you finish reading this post.  More significant by far than this post could hope to be.  This was Jesus saying that a man must no longer be who he is.  And not only that, the man must now be someone new.  And at the same time, he will still be himself.  Now it doesn’t sound so cliche, does it?  Wording it that way makes us think, at least a bit more.

A man by the name of Rich Mullins once cried out to God from the depths of his heart…

“Save me from trendy religion that makes
Cheap cliches out of timeless truths!
Lord save me!  Please, save me!”

May we be saved from trendy religion.  May we read the Holy Writ with a childlike wonder.  May we gaze upon the face of God clearly, without the vail of self-righteous piety that keeps us from recognizing just how small we are, and just how much we need every word that comes from the mouth of God.

Have you been born again?

The rulers knew (John 3)

I’m finding that doing these blogs is bringing out things in the Scriptures that I never gave much thought to.  This post is about a thing that I’ve given thought to, but not in relation to this passage.

John 3 begins with the story of Nicodemus coming to Jesus at night.  There is much discussion even today over the things which Jesus taught the man.  But I’ve never heard discussion on, nor thought about a word in verse 2… “we”

It has always been apparent to me that Nicodemus had some faith in Christ.  And other passages of Scripture have made it clear that the religious leaders of the Jews also knew the truth of Christ, though I wouldn’t use the word faith when describing their attitude towards Christ. 

This passage, it turns out, supports the fact that the leaders knew, and from early on.  Nicodemus told Jesus “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God.”  Nicodemus wasn’t alone, at least not in his knowledge.  It’s funny to me to speak of Nicodemus’ knowledge, because the passage goes right into the lack of his knowledge.  But that’s addressing a different matter, one I hope to speak on tomorrow.  For now, we are concerned with the rebellious leaders.

It sickens me to think that the leaders knew who Jesus was, yet they acted against Him anyway.  What a vile and disgusting thing.  What a treacherous thing.  But then as I consider it more, my thoughts drift closer to home.  I remember that I too have done this to Christ in my own life.  I made myself into a wretch.

But thank God that nothing is beyond His reach.  Psalm 139 so perfectly speaks to this, to God’s reach in our lives.  Read it if you get a chance.

Today’s leaders are not much different in their ways, and I’m not only speaking of those in politics.  I’m speaking in general terms… leaders in sciences, media, culture, business, literature… and the list goes on.  Some of these leaders know who Christ is.  They know, though they may be too afraid to honestly consider Him in the still, quiet moments of their lives.  Instead they delude their own minds, thinking that they can somehow steal from God and get away from it.  They think nobody knows.

But by their own actions their hearts are revealed. 

And they will give an account for what they do with the knowledge of Christ.  Let us all pray that before their day comes they all accept His salvation, that they will follow the trail that Nicodemus left for them… the quiet one that leads to Christ when all that surrounds them is darkness. 

And Let us continue to speak the truth to them in love.  Let us continually make sure that we ourselves are not guilty of the same treason… knowing who Christ is, yet trying to take what is His for our own pleasures.

Hebrews 1:2 “in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.”