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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | John 7:14–36

About the middle of the festival Jesus went up into the temple and began to teach. The Jews were astonished at it, saying, “How does this man have such learning, when he has never been taught?” Then Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine but his who sent me. Anyone who resolves to do the will of God will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own. Those who speak on their own seek their own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and there is nothing false in him. “Did not Moses give you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why are you looking for an opportunity to kill me?” The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who is trying to kill you?” Jesus answered them, “I performed one work, and all of you are astonished. Moses gave you circumcision (it is, of course, not from Moses, but from the patriarchs), and you circumcise a man on the sabbath. If a man receives circumcision on the sabbath in order that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because I healed a man’s whole body on the sabbath? Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” Now some of the people of Jerusalem were saying, “Is not this the man whom they are trying to kill? And here he is, speaking openly, but they say nothing to him! Can it be that the authorities really know that this is the Messiah? Yet we know where this man is from; but when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from.” Then Jesus cried out as he was teaching in the temple, “You know me, and you know where I am from. I have not come on my own. But the one who sent me is true, and you do not know him. I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.” Then they tried to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him, because his hour had not yet come. Yet many in the crowd believed in him and were saying, “When the Messiah comes, will he do more signs than this man has done?” The Pharisees heard the crowd muttering such things about him, and the chief priests and Pharisees sent temple police to arrest him. Jesus then said, “I will be with you a little while longer, and then I am going to him who sent me. You will search for me, but you will not find me; and 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 search for me and you will not find me’ and ‘Where I am, you cannot come’?” (NRSV)

“Are you really the messiah?” This seems to be the question on everyone’s mind in these passages. To be fair, Jesus did often tell the disciples not to tell people of the miraculous thing he had done. But this is different. Maybe Jesus should have been a bit more boastful about his works. Just because people might have expected Jesus to do more than they were aware of doesn’t negate who he was and is.

Over the years, I’ve run into this problem when it comes to youth. The expectations of them and their abilities that adults and the world place upon them often outweigh them. But when they don’t perform to our standards, we don’t question who they are. Or do we?

Like the people in John’s Gospel, we allow our assumptions of others to guide our judgment instead of seeing beyond our presuppositions. We’re all guilty of it. In many respects, it is ingrained into how our society functions and how we relate to one another. We are people of standards and competition. Clearly the people in these scriptures were people of some pretty high standards for their expectation of a messiah. Healing a person’s whole body isn’t enough? Maybe it would be enough had he not done it on a sabbath day. If John’s people were able to reevaluate their standards, I wonder how this story might be different. Maybe Jesus would have been enough for them then.

Creator God, help us to reevaluate the standards and assumptions that we place on others. Allow us to see one another for who we are, as you have created each of us, beautiful, good, and in your image. Amen.

Written by Shelley Donaldson, Senior High Youth Coordinator

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