John, The Love of God
“Who do you think you are?” shouts those who are proud of their standing in the community and do not like the interference of an “outsider” who thinks and behaves in ways that are opposite and different than their routines and rituals. When our ethics and morals are attacked, we automatically respond with “Who put you in charge?” or “Who are you to tell me what to do?”. When our minds are made up, confess, we do not like to be challenged. Everything we don’t agree with, we call “stupid, crazy and of the devil” as our first line of defense. These are the attitudes Jesus faces in today’s passage.
John 8, The Message
I Am Who I Am
48 The Jews then said, “That clinches it. We were right all along when we called you a Samaritan and said you were crazy—demon-possessed!”
49-51 Jesus said, “I’m not crazy. I simply honor my Father, while you dishonor me. I am not trying to get anything for myself. God intends something gloriously grand here and is making the decisions that will bring it about. I say this with absolute confidence. If you practice what I’m telling you, you’ll never have to look death in the face.”
52-53 At this point the Jews said, “Now we know you’re crazy. Abraham died. The prophets died. And you show up saying, ‘If you practice what I’m telling you, you’ll never have to face death, not even a taste.’ Are you greater than Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you think you are!”
54-56 Jesus said, “If I turned the spotlight on myself, it wouldn’t amount to anything. But my Father, the same One you say is your Father, put me here at this time and place of splendor. You haven’t recognized him in this. But I have. If I, in false modesty, said I didn’t know what was going on, I would be as much of a liar as you are. But I do know, and I am doing what he says. Abraham—your ‘father’—with jubilant faith looked down the corridors of history and saw my day coming. He saw it and cheered.”
57 The Jews said, “You’re not even fifty years old—and Abraham saw you?”
58 “Believe me,” said Jesus, “I am who I am long before Abraham was anything.”
59 That did it—pushed them over the edge. They picked up rocks to throw at him. But Jesus slipped away, getting out of the Temple.
Another perspective look…
I have faced these attitudes in teaching little ones. Some kids raise themselves because of neglect or because their parents are still kids themselves. Because there is no one to get them up, feed them breakfast or dress them, they do it all on their own. When they get to school, they are tired, hungry and under-dressed for the weather most days. When you tell them to do something for the good of their growing and learning, they are often rebellious. They fight back with “Who are you to tell me what to do?”
As a teacher, you want the best for them. So you have to approach these attitudes in a different way. We work first on trust, letting them in on a secret that they have yet to discover…that we love, accept and care for them as a person. We help other students in the class accept and help them, too. I overheard a first grader tell an unhappy peer, “Teacher loves us, you’ll be okay.” Wow. Eventually the walls of pride and the “me against the world” attitudes fall and then learning can begin to take root.
Why do my thoughts go back to teaching? The Pharisees and many other leaders have spent generations moving farther and farther away from what God intended for them. They have been “raising themselves” on their own rules. Being oppressed by Roman rule they have developed a survivalist mentally. They trust no one (not even God) except themselves. I see Jesus not giving up on the Jewish leaders.
Why consistently debate them and their “who do you think you are attitudes?” Because He came to set things right between ALL of God’s creation with God. Jesus does not give up on Pharisees or anyone else because of the rich love He has for all the women and men God created. We see these debates and we first think, Jesus, why mess with them? Like the prophets and even the disciples, we first think, Jesus, why not just destroy them by fire? But then we think of Jesus pleading words, “I’m not crazy. I simply honor my Father, while you dishonor me. I am not trying to get anything for myself. God intends something gloriously grand here and is making the decisions that will bring it about.”
BEFORE creation there was God. BEFORE creation God knew we would need to be saved from our own pride and self propelled behavior that only leads to death.
Jesus died for you and me. Jesus died for the Pharisees, too. Jesus died so that we might live forever with him…IF we believe in the great I AM…who was with God at the Beginning.
As teachers work with rebellious children because of their love for them, wanting the best for them so they will learn and be productive in life, Jesus relentlessly works in us, His rebellious children at times, so that we will live in His love forever.
Dear Heavenly Father,
We repent of our rebellion in and out of Your church. YOU are God and we are not. We repent of going our own way which leads to mistakes and missteps. Free us, teach us, shape and mold us to be and then do all You intended for us to be and do. Thank you for not giving up on us. Thank you for The Plan. Continue your transformational work in us. We are listening. Speak to our hearts all day long.
In Jesus Name, Amen
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16