27 May 2013

Encountering Jesus ~ It's the beginning of a showdown!

When I was little, I used to think thunderstorms (and we had some doozies out in Oklahoma where I grew up) were nothing more than Old West style showdowns between God and His angels versus Satan and his demons.

They were pretty scary, exciting things - especially when you threw tornadoes and hail into the mix. I remember many a time hearing the sirens begin to blare meaning we should find interior shelter... soon!

In these next few verses of John, we see a prequel to a showdown that makes any and every thunderstorm look like child's play.

For the last several months, I've been crawling my way through the book of John, looking at all of the different Jesus encounters recorded, seeking to learn more about my Lord and Savior as I do. This week, however, curiosity over the word I've been using all along... encounter... got the best of me. Kinda funny how God times these things, because I don't think these verses and that wondering haphazardly coincided.

Encounter as a verb is to meet, or confront, an adversary.

Encounter as a noun is the occurrence of said meeting, a confrontation between adversaries.

It doesn't sound very pleasant. We're not talking about a meeting between a couple of folks who already have a meeting of the minds. I'm slowly realizing that each Jesus encounter forces me to see myself as I am, to take stock of how even on my best days I fall short of any minimum standard of holiness. It ever reminds of just how much I need Him. On those days where I'm feeling self-confident, self-reliant... or just downright arrogant... that sort of confrontation is about as enjoyable as a nice hard slap to the face. That sort of confrontation always results in a skirmish... or even a full-fledged battle.

And that is how I'm understanding what happens as I finish studying the passage about a lame man walking.
The man went away, and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. For this reason the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath.
But He answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.”
For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God. (John 5:14-18)
The lame guy tells the Jews (and I'm assuming that this is the same group of men to whom he'd previously stated his ignorance about the man who healed him) that it was Jesus who had restored his body. Does he go back and look for them to set the record straight? Does he run into them again and someone asks him, again?  The text doesn't say anything more than he went away and told. The Greek word translated told does often contain the nuance of a formal announcement or proclamation, so perhaps he sought them out, perhaps he stumbled into them and wanted to set the record straight, perhaps he was overjoyed and was proclaiming the name of the One who'd wrought his very personal miracles. 

What did he tell them? Interestingly enough, the question the Jews had initially asked was who had told him to carry his mat. And the man answered - saying the one who had healed him so that he could now walk had directed him to carry his mat. This time, there is no mention of the mat. The man simply preached the simplest of Gospel messages:  "Jesus made me whole!"

And those Jews... Instead of celebrating the stepping out of the only One Who could step outside the box of men's practices and traditions in keeping the Law ... the only One Who could live not only the letter, but Who could also breathe the heart, the intent, the spirit behind the Law... those Jews chose the route of persecution.

The word translated as persecute, diókócan also be translated as earnestly pursue... More precisely, it means "to aggressively chase like a hunter pursuing a catch or a prize."

That really got me thinking to how easy it would be to flip from pursuing (recommended behavior) to persecuting (disobedience). If I'm not vigilant and very, very careful... I could switch from following hard after the Lord in this world to persecuting Him... as easily as I can flip a coin from heads to tails.

I'm reminded again how I like to keep the Pharisaical Jews as the caricature-ish bad guys of the Bible. Yet, quite literally, in the blink of an eye, I can become the same. Those sins of whitewashing and rule clinging and not listening - I'm not beyond those. And I won't be, in this lifetime at least.

I'd better not forget it... and watch carefully to make sure that by God's grace, the wrong face to that coin stays flipped down.

this week's gratitude list

(#'s 3852 - 3878)
Arabian nights and middle school musicals

2 weeks

friends praying with us for NO chicken pox to interfere with our travel plans

one garage sale down, one more to go

old Survivor episodes

Land Cruiser sold and gone

sugar cookies for breakfast

Ever heard of chicken stroganoff? Neither had I, until I decided to try it... Yummy special Sunday meal!

parents who want to talk about how their kids are doing in school

yummy midweek meals, just because

the last AP exam behind us

the last IGCSE exam behind us

waiting to hear scholarship results

an email that meant the world to me

holding my sad girl after her baby pigeon died

hard lessons learned... and the courage to sign up for those lessons

tickets sold

flyer designed... now hopefully people will want our kitties

ice cream parties for girls who love on babies at the orphanage

Thomas the Tank Train set given to children at another orphanage

elementary school pizza parties

homemade hummus and pita bread for dinner on a hot evening

another 50 kg sack of flour consumed... boy do we go through it fast!

emoticons that make me laugh out loud when they pop up

our van back to Midland... grandpa and sister who spent all day getting it there

sweet sixteen 

no spots, yet... we're still praying

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