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Posted By Nan

John 8:12-20
This blog is late tonight, but just as well. As I was preparing to write this blog the verses 1 Chronicles 16:8-15 and Psalm 120:1 arrived in my inbox. They are important verses for considering this passage and I would have missed them if I had written the blog at the normal time. One reading praises God for who He is and for what He does for us, the other acknowledges that when we call on God in our distress He answers. The verses from John are part of that same theme.
Jesus reiterates to the people that He is the light of the world and that those who follow Him will not walk in darkness but have the light of life. In our distress we close our eyes and think we are in darkness, but we follow Jesus so we are always in the presence of the light of life. Open your eyes in your distress and see Jesus.
Having made this statement, the Pharisees challenge Him because He is has no witness which invalidates His testimony. Legalism again! A perpetual human problem. It happened then, it happens now.
Jesus response to the Pharisees was to say that His testimony was valid because He knows where He comes from. He accused the Pharisees of judging by human standards (don’t we all!) but Jesus passes judgement on no one. He stands with the Father and that means His testimony has two witnesses which in the Law of the Pharisees means it is valid.
He was again challenged “Where is your father”. Jesus reply was that they do not know Him or His Father because if they knew Him they would know His Father. He spoke pretty contentious words, but no-one arrested Him because His time had not yet come.
“Glory in His holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice” 1 Chronicles 16:10

 
Posted By Nan

John 8:2-11
This is a well known story. After a night in prayer Jesus returns refreshed to the temple courts, no doubt prepared to teach as He did the previous day. In the midst of this the Pharisees set a trap. They bring a woman caught in the act of adultery.  Jewish law decreed that anyone caught in adultery should be stoned to death. The Pharisees were hoping to catch Jesus. Would He uphold the law? In so doing, however, He would break Roman law which decreed only the Romans had the power to pass a sentence of death.

Jesus response to the Pharisees was to draw in the sand. This act sent a powerful message to the Pharisees. In effect, Jesus was turning away from them and ignoring them. He was not standing in a posture that said He was listening. He didn’t turn His body to face them and look at them. He bent down and started drawing with his finger in the sand. In the power game that was being played out by the Pharisees, Jesus was sending the strong message that He did not consider them to have power over Him. He was not going to jump to respond to them whenever they asked.
I have always wondered what Jesus was thinking during that time. Was He praying to God, asking for guidance? Was He praying to God for the people watching? Was He praying to God for the woman? Was He thanking God for this opportunity to teach an important message? I am sure He was praying. He was taking His time and not allowing Himself to be rushed to give an answer.
At the right time He stood up and declared that the person who was ‘without sin’ could throw the first stone. The words ‘without sin’ were not referring only to the sin of adultery. They were referring to any sin. It is interesting to note that the older members of the crowd were the first to leave. I have always felt that this was because the older members had lived longer and learned that no-one is without sin. They were less inclined to rush to judgement and punish the woman. They realised they were sinners too and had no right to judge.
Eventually, all the crowd left. As each crowd member left, the ones left behind began to question their own assurance of sinlessness. This was an important message. It applies just as much today to us, as it did then to the people in the temple. Until we can understand that we are not ‘without sin’, we can never understand our need for salvation. Without realising it, the crowd were being prepared for the opportunity of salvation.
When there was no one there but the woman and Jesus, He asked her where those who condemned her were. When she said there was no-one there, Jesus replied by saying that He would not condemn her either. He did not condone what she did. In fact He considered she has been sinful. But He did not condemn her. Instead He instructed her to go and not to sin anymore.
Jesus’ act of not condemning the woman is important for us. At that stage He was moving towards the cross. He was preparing to die for our sin. Later, there will be a time for judgement (Acts 24:25). But for now, He calls us to ask forgiveness and walk away from our sin. Note Jesus did not harangue the woman. He did not tell her she was a terrible sinner and to get out of His sight. He told her He would not condemn her and told her to go and not sin anymore.
In Romans 14:10 we are told not to judge each other. In John 5:22 Jesus said that the Father had entrusted judgement to Him. But Jesus’ judgement is to come. We are not to judge others, we are to leave that to Jesus. Sadly, many Christians, especially those who belong to Churches with harsh, judgemental views, do judge others. When we judge others, we are sinning. So be careful when you rush to make an assumption about another person and judge them. Are you doing as Jesus’ wants you to do? Or are you forgetting that you are not without sin and casting stones?

 
Posted By Nan

John 7:53- 8:1
Very short and sweet these verses. It is the end of the day. Everyone goes home and Jesus goes to the Mount of Olives. Why does He do that? He goes there to pray, to spend time with His Father.
Just before sitting down to write this blog I was folding clothes and taking the opportunity to pray. As I spoke to Jesus I talked about how I had really enjoyed the past two weeks and the time I had been able to spend with Him. My husband had been away on business and I had taken the daily hour long walk of our dog on my own. On the first day God challenged me to pray for the people in the area as I encircled their houses. God had prompted me through reading the book “the Circle Maker” by Mark Batterson to pray prayer circles around the area as I walked my dog every afternoon. So I made a commitment to do that and each day I prayed for an hour or more as I walked circles around the area. It was a wonderful, blessed time. I prayed for the people and spent a lot of time just focusing on Jesus and what He had done in coming to earth, dying on the cross and rising from the dead. I meditated on how hard it had been for Him to be in the world when it was so corrupt and He was the Son of God. I had such a wonderful prayer time, focusing on Jesus, and felt more hopeful for the people of this area than I have for a long time. I was also blessed with many positive encounters with people out walking. I have walked my dog in the area for four years and have never had so many people stop to chat and walk with me than I had during those two weeks. How God answers our prayers! On the day I made the commitment to pray I injured my foot, so my prayer walks were hard and slower than usual. I am sure this was all part of God’s plan. The foot is still painful, in fact it hurts more than it did when I needed to walk around the area. I am sure that is also due to God’s intervention during those two weeks. But the big difference I notice is that I have not had that hour to spend in the presence of my Saviour. I am mindful here of Peter’s words in John 6:68 “..to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (NIV). Jesus is the author and perfector of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). He has the words of eternal life (John 6:68). How can we manage our lives if we do not spend time with Him? So my prayer before reading these verses was that I would see a time I could spend focusing on Jesus to replace my walk time. Then I opened my Bible and realised the next verses I read talked about Jesus going to the Mount of Olives at the end of the day to pray and spend time in the presence of His Father. Jesus, our Saviour, the Son of God, the one who was perfect, needed time in the presence of His Father. If He who was perfect needed that time, how much more do we who are sinful need it? I had always thought I spent enough time in Jesus’ presence until I spent that two weeks praying my way around my neighbourhood. Now I realise I need more time and I make that commitment to give Jesus that time. Will you make that commitment also?

 
Posted By Nan

John 7:45-52
This short passage follows on from the events in the temple. The temple guards had stood in the temple and listened to Jesus. They might have been ordered to arrest Him but instead they were impressed and swayed by His teaching. So instead of arresting Him they returned to the chief priests and Pharisees. Had they chosen to use it as a defence, they could have told the rulers that the pilgrim crowd was hostile to any action against Jesus, which was true. Instead they chose to tell the rulers that “no-one ever spoke the way this man does”.
The comment of the guards brought condemnation from the rulers. They considered He had deceived the guards. After all, they contended, none of the Pharisees had fallen for His lies. Only the pilgrims who knew nothing of the law of the Pharisees believed Him.
Two points here: The first is that the pilgrims were mostly hard working Jews who had no time to spend learning the multitude of complex rules that the Pharisees believed summed up God. Their faith was a more basic faith in God, which means they were closer to God and more likely to hear Jesus and recognise what He taught as being consistent with the God they knew.
The other point is that in the next verse Nicodemus, a Pharisee who believed in Jesus (despite what the rulers said about none of the Pharisees believing) challenged the rulers on their own breach of the law. He pointed out that their law states that no-one can be condemned unless they have first been listened to. Yet the rulers were condemning Jesus without hearing what He had to say. Nicodemus was criticised for his stance. Did he come from Galilee too? The statement was no doubt intended as an insult and to intimidate him into being quiet. After all, they pointed out to him, no prophet comes out of Galilee! These learned men were wrong. At least Jonah and maybe other prophets came out of Galilee. They were also ignoring God’s right to raise a prophet from anywhere He wanted. They had fallen for the human failing of trying to put limits on God. They were also creating laws for people to follow, claiming they came from God, yet choosing to disobey those rules themselves, thus setting themselves up as being above God. This is something we all do and we need to guard against, both in our individual lives and in our worship with other Christians, especially if that worship is in a church with its rules, doctrine and traditions.

 
Posted By Nan

John 7:28-44 continued.
The themes that appear in these verses revolve around Jesus statement of 28-29 that He is sent by God and is from Him. In other words, He was telling them that He is the Christ. There were many who recognised this and tried to seize Him, as was mentioned in the previous blog. Of course no-one laid a hand on Him because His time had not yet come.
The verses here make a distinction between the different groups of people present in Jerusalem at the time. There were the ‘crowds’ who were the pilgrims from outside Jerusalem. These people were the most open to Jesus’ teaching and the ones who wondered amongst themselves if He was the Christ.
There were also the Jews, the people who lived in Jerusalem and were more influenced by the Jewish leaders so more resistant to Jesus word. They were the ones who struggled to understand what He said. When Jesus said He would be with them only a short time then would go away where they could not find Him, they took Him literally and tried to identify the physical place they pictured Him going to. It appears that those who were closest to the religious leaders were the ones least open to God. These are also the people who still argued about where the Christ would come from and refused to accept that the Christ could come out of Galilee.
Finally there were the leaders, whose guards heard Jesus in the Temple and started to believe Him (more of that in later verses).
Jesus’ teaching during this time changed. Whereas He had formerly taught about how people should live and challenged the legalism of the leaders. Now He talked about His role as the Christ. He made many public references about His death. The people however did not understand this, but later many may have remembered what He said and understood it in light of His resurrection. Everything He spoke was important. Often we may say things to people, give messages about God, and find that people do not understand them. Just as with Jesus, that lack of understanding does not mean your timing was poor. Sometimes we need to hear God’s word first, then see it played out and be reminded of what was formerly said.
Finally Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit. This is another instance where He spoke of something that people had not yet been given so they did not understand. He spoke of those who believed having streams of living water flowing from them and reminded the people this came from the scriptures (Isaiah 58:11). Although not fully understood, it was enough for the crowds to again ask if this was the Christ.
So the debate continued between those with a simple, unadulterated faith and those bound up in religiosity and legalism. God warns us to guard against religiosity and legalism. We must not allow doctrine, blind adherence to what others say and unbiblical legalism to blind us to the powerful message of the Cross.

 


 
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Nan
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