30 January 2014

Encountering Jesus ~ Wondering at Gracious Words

Thus the people were divided because of Jesus. Some wanted to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him. Finally the temple guards went back to the chief priests and the Pharisees, who asked them, “Why didn’t you bring him in?”

“No one ever spoke the way this man does,” the guards replied.

“You mean he has deceived you also?” the Pharisees retorted. “Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him? No! But this mob that knows nothing of the law—there is a curse on them.”

Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier and who was one of their own number, asked, “Does our law condemn a man without first hearing him to find out what he has been doing?”

They replied, “Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee.” (John 7.43-53)
The chief priests and the Pharisees sent someone else to do their dirty work... to capture Jesus. But the temple guards sent were unable to do so... no one was able to lay a hand on him. When the priests and Pharisees later questioned the guards, there comment was that Jesus spoke like no one every had before. 

Look at the verses that were cross-referenced with the temple guards reply to their authorities: 
  1. John 7:26 "But, see, he speaks boldly..." 
  2. Matthew 7:29 "For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes..."
  3. Luke 4:22 "And all bore him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth…"
The description of Jesus' speech in Luke has totally entranced me as I've looked at this passage of Scripture this past week. More accurately, it was the use of the word gracious to describe His words. When I think of someone who is gracious of speech, I tend to think refined, polite, decorous, elegant, well-mannered and tasteful. Now, it isn't that I don't think Jesus did speak that way - it just isn't the main impression I've gathered as I've been encountering the Lord through this study of the book of John. And certainly those moments when He overturned tables in the temple, confronted the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, or challenged long held assumptions and traditions - gracious wasn't the first adjective that came to mind.

But under Holy Spirit inspiration, it was the word that Luke chose to use as he described the words of Savior. Here's what I found out about that word, gracious. According to the Greek, gracious speech means words "which afford joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness;" words that demonstrate "Jesus freely extending Himself, reaching and inclining to people because He was/is disposed to bless and to be near them." Gracious can even be word of polite surprise. 

Polite surprise makes sense to me. The other descriptions? It must be something only God could do because when you look at the actual grammar, vocabulary and content of what Jesus was saying - He confronted people with their neediness, their hopelessness, their futile pursuit of keeping laws and traditions... all with the goal of somehow pleasing God.

Even though Jesus often said difficult, challenging and confrontational words that demanded self-examination, He still communicated His infinite grace those words.

Everyone who encountered those words felt their impact. Many, like Nicodemus, were forever changed. Perhaps that is why the Pharisees were reluctant to seek those encounters with Jesus, especially in moments when they did not have the force of numbers behind them... in their favor. 

As I've recommitted the past several months to consistently immerse myself in the Savior's words, I'm consistently finding that even the hard words in God's Word are gracious words and show God's position towards me... always leaning, always reaching, always desiring to be near me and to bless me.
this week's gratitude list
(#'s 4387 - 4409)
a God consistently, forever, inclining towards me

a daughter feeling much better, much less overwhelmed

reading some really good books

a visit to a cabin in the snowy Michigan woods

safety as we travel

unexpected days off school

healing and protection for friends who've been sick

safety for a friend who has been traveling

starting to get back into the hang and routine of blogging consistently again

Barnes & Noble/coffee/shopping date with my 15 year old

snuggly quilts

Bren has finished his J-term class

Two sickies home today - M&M and Anna - fun to watch them interact much like they did last year when I was home schooling the two of them

doctor friends

little girl brushing my hair - and making my headache go away

snuggling under the electric blanket

another batch of prayer cards arrived

Christmas letter finally mailed

memories of lessons learned many years ago that still impact my life today

gracious words

the challenge to be intention, to let my words always be gracious

ginger tea for icky tummies

chicken broth and chicken noodle soup for colds

Ten most recent posts in this series: 

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