I’m hoping that our journeying together thus far has allowed me this latitude for I want nothing more than for you to find true joy, hope and peace in the One who came for you!
So, please bear with me, as I ask, “which Jesus do you really want?” I believe it’s a fair question. You see as I was reading John 5:16ff I was struck by the following: “the Jews started persecuting Jesus, because he was doing such things on the Sabbath.” (Jn 5:16) Interesting, first of all, because Jesus himself later warns/prepares us for such treatment saying that we too could expect to face persecution because of His name, for a servant is not above His master, and that is how He himself had been treated.
Here’s where it really got challenging for me, you see, the religious scholars and leaders of the day were so stuck on “right and wrong” being spelled out to the letter and lived to the “t” that when God himself showed up in their midst they were unable to recognize Him. They weren’t living according to God’s voice but according to their own interpretation of His voice. Dangerous. How often do we find ourselves doing that? Caught up in what we think we understand, we close ourselves off to what God is trying to say to us. Instead of knowing Jesus, Himself, we construct our own ideas of Him and stand on that (right or wrong).
It goes on to say that “…The Jews [these religious scholars and leaders] were seeking all the more to kill Jesus because He called God his own Father, thereby making himself equal to God. (vv17-18) They had been waiting for the One God would send who would bring rescue to His people but they misinterpreted “rescue” to mean political freedom from the hands of Rome under which they found themselves captives. Instead of recognizing Jesus as the One promised in Scripture to come and bring rescue and healing and wholeness, which is what He had been doing and accomplishing right there in their midst, they cry “blasphemy.” God wanted to widen their understanding but they were certain that they had interpreted Scripture correctly so anything other than their limited understanding was met with firm rejection…rejecting God Himself, in Jesus. Again, what about us? Do we cling to our own interpretation, our own understanding and reject anything further that God may be attempting to reveal about who He really is?
Finally, it says, “…(v36) the very works that I am doing, testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me. You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me.” (5:39) The former prophets that these religious leaders read about as they studied and memorized their Scripture, proclaimed the coming One who would bind up the broken hearted, and set captives free but when Jesus came doing such things He was met with rejection. Too blinded to see that what they had been waiting for had now arrived in the person of Jesus! Instead they poured over Scriptures and sought to interpret them in their own understanding (though God tells us to “lean not on our own understanding…” which they too would have read in the very Scriptures they studied). And their own understanding led them to dismissing and missing God himself who had come to offer rescue, hope and restoration.
God, please continue to open our eyes and ears, and soften our hearts, so that we will see you, hear you and know you and never end up missing you because of our own human stubbornness and sinful error.