Further Conflict Over Jesus’ Claims
22 Then came the Festival of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. 24 The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”
25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”
31 Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, 32 but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”
33 “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”
34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods”’? 35 If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be set aside— 36 what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? 37 Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. 38 But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” 39 Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp.
40 Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. There he stayed, 41 and many people came to him. They said, “Though John never performed a sign, all that John said about this man was true.” 42 And in that place many believed in Jesus.
In this passage, Jesus, a Jew, is talking with other Jews. They continue to question him about his true identity. Jesus has told them over and over, and he has demonstrated many times that he is the Chosen One, the Messiah, the Son of God. But they do not seem to grasp it. In this recurring theme, we find that the people can see but still they are “blind.” They listen but they do not “hear.” Why is this? Why did so many people have a hard time believing Jesus was who he said he was?
I think it is the same reason we often doubt it ourselves. Preconceptions and predefined expectations keep us from hearing or seeing correctly. The people of the first century expected the Messiah to look and act like a warrior and a king. They expected someone who would conquer their oppressors with might and force. So as much as Jesus told them and demonstrated his divine power, they could not believe it. They had an image in their mind of what a messiah was supposed to look like and an idea of what a messiah should do. Because of this, many people simply missed the true Messiah right in front of them.
Do you ever expect God to answer a prayer, provide an answer, or show some guidance in a particular way? I know I do. I have expectations of how God will show up in my life. I have preconceived notions of what God can and will do. But here’s the problem with that - I often miss what God is really doing because of what I’m expecting God to do. In that instance, I am no different from the first-century Jews who wanted to stone Jesus for offering false claims. He was speaking truth but it wasn’t the truth they wanted or expected to hear.
In my experience, God rarely shows up in the manner or method I expect. So I have learned to let go of those expectations. I focus instead on the few things I know for sure: God is with me, God is for me and God is always at work around me. It is up to me to open my eyes and my ears to look and listen for the unexpected ways God will reveal his presence.
God, I sometimes struggle to believe you are with me. Forgive me for not noticing your presence. Please help me become more aware of the way you are working with me and for me. Show me the big and small ways you are guiding me, calling me, and providing for me. Give me the courage to proclaim your presence and live in gratitude for your constant grace. Thank you, Lord. In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.