Thursday, September 14, 2017

Whose side are you really on?

TODAY'S SPECIAL: John 12:27-41

TO CHEW ON: "But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him."

We see a tug-of-war between faith and skepticism over Jesus' identity as God in this passage. It's clearly stated in the two verses just beyond our reading: "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" - John 12:42.

First we observe a serious Jesus who said 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 answered Jesus' prayer. This caused confusion in the bystanders. They had various natural explanations about what this voice was, but Jesus told them it was God speaking for their benefit giving His very stamp of approval on Jesus.  

Faith: God speaking from heaven was a pretty strong endorsement of Jesus and His claims OR 
Skepticism: It was just thunder; He was deluded about what He was hearing.

Jesus then talked 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 Moses erected during the Israelites' wandering, which those bitten by deadly serpents needed only to look to, to be saved (Numbers 21:4-9). 

Faith: Jesus is making some pretty powerful claims OR 
Skepticism: He's obviously crazy!

When they questioned, "You say 'The Son of Man must be lifted up'? Who is this Son of Man?" Jesus again predicted that He would leave them and pleaded 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 performed - John 12:37.
Faith: Who but Someone with God's power could perform such powerful miracles?

All this back-and-forth did not move the skeptics, who had long since made up their minds about who Jesus was, 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" - John 12:42,43.

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

Ouch! Isn't there a temptation for us to do this as well? In a world where faith in Christ is scorned and ridiculed for many 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. 

"I'd Rather Have Jesus"

MORE: Holy Cross Day

Today the church celebrates the cross. The liturgy for Holy Cross Day begins with this collect:

Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ was lifted high upon the cross that he might draw the whole world to himself: Mercifully grant that we, who glory in the mystery of our redemption, may have grace to take up our cross and follow him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked AMP are taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission." (

Bible Drive-Thru

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