God is Our Witness

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” So the Pharisees said to him, “You are bearing witness about yourself; your testimony is not true.” Jesus answered, “Even if I do bear witness about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me. In your Law it is written that the testimony of two people is true. I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.” They said to him therefore, “Where is your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” These words he spoke in the treasury, as he taught in the temple; but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come. John 8:12-20.

As I follow Jesus, I have the light of life. I am one of the “whoever” that He was talking about. And so are you, if you will follow Him. It doesn’t take a college degree or a certificate of ordination. It takes faith; faith that is put in Jesus and what He did for you as your savior.

It is really sad that men who were so dedicated to God’s Law didn’t know who Jesus was. Not only that, but they were trying to kill him. They did not know it, but their ministry was coming to an end. They were all about keeping the rules, and making sure others kept the rules. Christ came to save those who could not keep them.

“Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” (2 Corinthians 3:4-6)

The Charges Got Dropped

Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” John 8:2-11.

We have no idea what Jesus was writing in the dirt while the Pharisees were making their case against the woman. There is some reason to believe He was writing the names of the women these accusers were seeing on the side. Whatever it was, it must have helped them consider their own guilt and shame when He challenged them to make good on their righteous claim.

There was a real temptation for Jesus in this. They were insisting that to be a good Jew, He would have to become like them. He would have to selectively punish this woman while forgetting about the man she was caught with. Instead, He appealed to their consciences, and got them to drop the charges. For just a moment, they had to be like Him.

Jesus has not called us to catch people in their sins and shame them. He challenges us to remember the grace He has shown us and to show it to others. And He set us free so we can go and sin no more. Then we can begin to be more like Him.

The Inscrutable Jesus

Some of the people of Jerusalem therefore said, “Is not this the man whom they seek to kill? And here he is, speaking openly, and they say nothing to him! Can it be that the authorities really know that this is the Christ? But we know where this man comes from, and when the Christ appears, no one will know where he comes from.” So Jesus proclaimed, as he taught in the temple, “You know me, and you know where I come from. But I have not come of my own accord. He who sent me is true, and him you do not know. I know him, for I come from him, and he sent me.” So they were seeking to arrest him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come. Yet many of the people believed in him. They said, “When the Christ appears, will he do more signs than this man has done?”

The Pharisees heard the crowd muttering these things about him, and the chief priests and Pharisees sent officers to arrest him. Jesus then said, “I will be with you a little longer, and then I am going to him who sent me. You will seek me and you will not find me. Where I am you cannot come.” The Jews said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we will not find him? Does he intend to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks and teach the Greeks? What does he mean by saying, ‘You will seek me and you will not find me,’ and, ‘Where I am you cannot come’?” John 7:25-36.

We often forget that Jesus was already known by a lot of people before He ever healed anyone. He was a local boy whose father was a carpenter. He and His family went to Jerusalem every year for religious feasts. He was a nice kid that never caused any trouble and was probably on the honor role every semester. But suddenly He comes out as a great teacher and miracle worker. And maybe He’s the Messiah?

Jesus did challenge and continues to challenge the systems of this world. If He was not the Son of God, and His claims were not true, who was He? How did He become the central figure of human history? Why do millions continue to put their faith in Him year after year, sometimes putting themselves in great peril to do so?

Jesus willingly put Himself in peril, even giving up His life in an excruciatingly painful way, to become the Savior of the world. Was He a nut, or was He the Son of God? I was born and raised in Troy, New York. I come from an undistinguished working class family, and I’ve been a household servant for forty years. Today I tell random strangers that I am an ambassador for Christ, and that God is no longer holding their sins against them because of who Jesus is and what He did for them. Am I a nut, or have I heard the voice of God? You will have to listen to find out.

Not By Books Alone

About the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and began teaching. The Jews therefore marveled, saying, “How is it that this man has learning, when he has never studied?” So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood. Has not Moses given you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why do you seek to kill me?” The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who is seeking to kill you?” Jesus answered them, “I did one work, and you all marvel at it. Moses gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. If on the Sabbath a man receives circumcision, so that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because on the Sabbath I made a man’s whole body well? Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” John 6:14-24.

What we learn about the material world is dependent on our ability to measure it. As we develop better microscopes, telescopes, and other more sensitive instruments, what we know changes. The material world hasn’t changed; just our understanding of it.

Our understanding of the spiritual world also grows as we observe and experience it. Our physical instruments are not able to measure it, and this has made it hard to determine what makes one an expert. But we have been able to experience times when the spiritual world has broken into the natural world. Thousands of people were fed by Jesus, whose only apparent resources were five loaves and two fish and His blessing. The religious authorities observed and accused Jesus of doing miracles on the Sabbath. Things like this made Jesus an expert on the power of God, and contributed to His high profile execution.

Jesus told the crowd that they could know that His teaching was true, if their will was to do God’s will. Consequently, if it is not your will to do God’s will, you will totally miss it. That is why the rulers missed it, even when they saw the evidence. It is because the revelation of truth is only given to those who are already submitting themselves to God’s will. Do that, and you will begin to see. Keep doing that, and more will be revealed.

Jesus Gets Weird

When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” John 6:25-34

It is at this point that Jesus is about to lose some followers. They ask Him questions, and He gives them metaphysical answers. When He tells them to work for what gives eternal life, they ask what that is, exactly, so they can go do it. Is it something they can see, feel, measure, check off of a list? “It is to believe.” Exasperation rises. “In what? Work with me, Jesus!”

When Jesus starts telling them that He is the bread of life, He has not changed the subject. He’s trying to tell them, “You need me, not just the thing that represents me.” At the last supper He would tell them, “This is my body, broken for you,” as He broke the unleavened bread. For thousands of years, the passover meal represented the innocent dying for the guilty. The loaf was without leaven because leaven was symbolic of sin. The manna that fell from heaven was also without leaven. It is not the bread that saves us. It is what we believe about the bread, and what it symbolizes.

Today, we must believe to see the kingdom of God. Jesus is not just a historical person in a book. He is a person who still lives, with whom we have an intimate relationship. The church is not the sum of all ecclesiastical real estate in the world. It is the universal body of all who believe in the one God sent to die for their sins. There is no membership card, no educational credential, and no outward appearance that marks you as His. There is only the Holy Spirit, directing your life and producing its fruit, that puts God’s seal on you. Believe it.