02 March 2016

Encountering Jesus - "Believe the Works!"

When we moved into our home in Quebec, we inherited a cockatiel. Her name is Bibi.
This picture has NOTHING to do with the point of this blog post.
It is simply a glimpse of our
daily life in our new place.

If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be set aside— 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’? Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. 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.” Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp. (John 10.35-39)


It has been almost a year since I last wrote in this series... which started as a slow, deliberate plodding through the book of John, a book which I've always found difficult to understand and therefore have not understood the recommendation to new believers that they start here. I don't know that this study is helping me to comprehend that recommendation, but it certainly is allowing me to encounter Jesus in more profound ways than I have in the past. Now that my hiatus and the craziness of the last 12 months is over, I hope to continue plodding a bit more consistently.

The last time I wrote, I looked at Jesus' statement, "Is it not written... 'I have said you are gods?'" It was a statement that totally befuddled me as Jesus quoted from the Old Testament, and I concluded with these questions: 
  1. In my God-appointed roles, where He's vested me with power and authority, am I acting rightly and justly so that some day, when I give account, He will be pleased?
  2. As I seek to know God, do I rely on others, personal experience, mystical feelings and sensations... or do I depend upon the same authority on which Jesus staked, first in priority: His claims - the written-Word?
  3. Am I allowing God to write His Word deep within on my heart, thus making it a part of me? Or am I trying to scribble it all down and in the process adding, dropping and/or mutating it into something different so that I can say I possess it? 
Continuing on through John 10, look carefully at what Jesus says to His accusers, "Believe the works." First, He tells those who are infuriated by His claim to be the Son of God to believe what was written. If they can't trust the written Word of God, He exhorts them to believe based on what they've seen Him do... to judge rightly whether or not His actions line up with God's nature and attributes. As Matthew Henry wrote, Jesus is effectively saying "...if [my] acts of healing and helping, of mighty consolation and symbolic grace, are obviously such as you can recognize as the Father's, believe them; learn that much..." Jesus was going about doing the types of things that only God could do. 

If those around us won't trust the testimony of Jesus - the authority of His Word - then we must point them to the things that He did and does. 

I'm a TV crime/drama show junkie. After working all day and then a couple of hours of homework with my kids in their second language, it is a preferred way for me to relax. Often, during the court scenes, people are called to the stand as character witnesses for the one accused of a crime. As they are questioned by lawyers, these character witness often give examples of things the person on trial has done - his/her works - works that either confirm to judge/jury that the crime matches with the demonstrated character of the accused... or works that contradict the possibility that accused likely committed the crime.

Jesus is, in a sense, asking those present at this encounter, to serve as judge/jury. Based on what He has done, could His words possibly be true. 

And, in their case, believing the works should ultimately brings one to believe the words as well.

Again... they tried to seize Him. In their minds, they probably figured they had given Him an opportunity to refute the charge of blasphemy. Instead, He only strengthened the case against Him. It was a similar circumstance to what takes place in John 5 - where the Sanhedrin is ready to kill him for breaking the Sabbath and for blasphemy. I'm struck by how often our preconceived ideas blind us to the truth literally right in front of our faces. They understood the significance of what He said - that He was One with God. That came through loud and clear. What they couldn't grasp, perhaps because their understanding of what it meant for God to be one God, was that they were standing in His presence, beholding the face of their incarnate God. But this makes me wonder what "preconceived" ideas I'm currently holding at this moment that are also blinding me to seeing my God at work, right in front of me.

The again in this final phrase refers back to, I believe, John 7. In verse 30, John records that they tried to seize (same word) him - possibly the crowd listening to Him. In verse 32, in response to the "whisperings" the temple guards were sent to arrest ( a word built on the same root as the word translated "seize" elsewhere) Him. Then, in verse 44, the text mentions that the people were divided in their opinions about Jesus and that some desired to seize (same word). In this last instance, it isn't clear if they actually tried... but the comment made was that no one could lay a hand upon Him - so it could be inferred that someone tried.

Apparently seizing Him was a common theme...

What does that word "seize" mean in the original language?

According to Strong's, it means: "apprehend, catch, lay hand on, take; probably another form of biazo; to squeeze, i.e. Seize (gently by the hand (press), or officially (arrest), or in hunting (capture)) -- apprehend, catch, lay hand on, take." 

Jesus was outnumbered each time they tried to seize Him - but they couldn't. Imagine. Here's how Matthew Henry puts it: "They stretched out hands which dropped harmlessly at their side - another confirmation of the solemn statement of verses 17-18:" "I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father."

I'm trying to imagine if that had been me - reaching out to grab someone in anger only to find my hands refusing to cooperate...

...If you can't believe the words, then believe the works!

One of the most troubling and convicting thoughts as I've studied these words this week has been: "what "preconceived" ideas am I currently holding that are also blinding me to seeing my God at work, or noting His presence, right in front of me?"

How about you?


Our kitty. She joined our family back in early December as the kids' Christmas gift.
She was a stray who would hang out on our back deck and lived in the big back hedge.
We named her Frankincense (in keeping with the Christmas theme)... or Frankie for short.
However, long before we'd ever enticed her to darken the door of the house, we had
started calling her "Pouf" because she looked like a little puffball of fur.
Frankinpouf seems to be the evolution...

Recently Frankinpouf has been obsessing on Bibi...
So... anyone have suggestions or advice on how to train a cat to ignore a bird?

Ten most recent posts in this series: 

Click here for all of the titles and their corresponding links in the Encountering Jesus series.

1 comment:

  1. Frankinpouf is darling! :-) Your writing here has confirmed my very thoughts on this part of John 10. Thank you and God bless you and your family. We too are in the process of packing to move to a new home and no matter what I'm doing, the work of packing is always with me and in my mind. God bless you richly!


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