Thursday, September 15, 2011

Whose side are you really on?

TODAY'S SPECIAL: John 12:27-43

TO CHEW ON: "Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God." John 15:42-43

We see a tug-of-war between faith and skepticism over Jesus' identity as God in this passage.

First we observe a serious Jesus who says disturbing things like "My soul is troubled and what should I say? 'Father, save Me from this hour'?..." right in front of a crowd. (An onlooker might be skeptical and ask, could someone who is divine be a victim?)

A thunderous heavenly voice answering Jesus' prayer causes confusion in the bystanders. They have various natural explanations about what this voice is, but Jesus tells them it is God speaking for their benefit giving His very stamp of approval on Jesus. (Faith: God speaking from heaven is a pretty strong endorsement of Jesus and His claims OR Skepticism: It's just thunder; He's deluded about what He's hearing.)

Jesus then talks about being lifted up from the earth and drawing all people to Himself (John 12:32). As astute students of the Old Testament, which many of those in the crowd were, they would have recognized this allusion to the brass serpent that we read about yesterday. (Faith: Jesus is making some pretty powerful claims OR Skepticism: He's obviously crazy!)

When they question, "You say 'The Son of Man must be lifted up'? Who is this Son of Man?" Jesus again predicts that He will leave them and pleads with them to "Walk while you have the light... While you have the light believe in the light that you may become sons of light" John 12:34-36. (Skepticism: could a man linking Himself so openly with deity actually be subject to death? Faith: He talked before about being light - John 8:12-30.)

Of course in addition to these verbal interchanges, there are all the signs and wonders Jesus performs - John 12:37. (Faith: Who but Someone with God's power could perform such powerful miracles?)

All this back-and-forth does not move those who have made up their minds about who Jesus is from their position of skepticism. And yet "Nevertheless, even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God."

They believed, but they didn't make it public by changing sides!

Ouch! Isn't there a temptation to do that for us? In a world where faith in Christ is scorned and ridiculed for a myriad of reasons, isn't it also our temptation to be secret believers, even though our fears of what would happen if we confessed Jesus openly are as well founded as the fears of these rulers were (John 7:13; 9:22)?

But if silent, embarrassed, ashamed belief is our temptation for whatever reason, there is another consequence we should bear in mind—a consequence far more serious than losing the popularity and praise of people.

"Therefore, everyone who acknowledges Me before men and confesses Me [out of a state of oneness with Me], I will also acknowledge him before My Father Who is in heaven and confess [that I am abiding in] him. But whoever denies and disowns Me before men, I also will deny and disown him before My Father Who is in heaven" Matthew 10:32-33 (Amplified)

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, help me to come out of the closet, as it were, about my faith in you. Help me to be confess You in all company. Amen.

MORE: I'd Rather Have Jesus"

The old hymn "I'd Rather Have Jesus" started out as a poem by Mrs. Rhea F. Miller. Robert Morgan tells the story of how it became a song:

"When Bev (George Beverly Shea) was 21, he began working for the Mutual Insurance Company of New York, assisting medical examiners in obtaining information relating to the applicant's health history. Among those who came into the office was Fred Allen, host of a coast-to-coast radio talent show. Learning the Bev liked to sing, Mr. Allen arranged an audition on the National Broadcasting Company. Though he lost the contest to a yodeller, he received fifteen dollars and a taste of widespread fame.

One Sunday shortly afterward, Bev sat down at his mother's organ to practice for the morning church service. His eyes fell on a clipping she had left for him there, a poem written in 1922 by Mrs. Rhea F. Miller. As Bev read the words, they spoke to him about his own aims and ambitions in life. An appropriate melody came easily, practically composing itself.... It later became a sort of 'signature song' expressing his own decisions in life" - Robert Morgan, Then Sings My Soul, p. 281.

Follow the link below to hear it sung by the Crabb Family. Let's take this old hymn as our prayer and resolve.

"I'd Rather Have Jesus"

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