13 March 2014

Encountering Jesus ~ and His traumatic love

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
The Pharisees challenged him, “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid." 
Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going. You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. But if I do judge, my decisions are true, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me. In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is true. I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.”
Then they asked him, “Where is your father?” 
“You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” He spoke these words while teaching in the temple courts near the place where the offerings were put. Yet no one seized him, because his hour had not yet come.  
Once more Jesus said to them, “I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come.”

This made the Jews ask, “Will he kill himself? Is that why he says, ‘Where I go, you cannot come’?”

But he continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.”

“Who are you?” they asked.

“Just what I have been telling you from the beginning,” Jesus replied. “I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is trustworthy, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.”

They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father. So Jesus said, “When you have lifted upa the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.” Even as he spoke, many believed in him. (John 8.12-30)
A Florida sunset... taken from our van as we are speeding (at the speed limit) down the highway... 

The picture above doesn't do the actual scene justice.

Just like it is hard to do these words any justice at all in thinking... meditating... writing... on them:
Whoever follows me will NEVER walk in darkness, 
but WILL HAVE the LIGHT of life.

I don't need to walk in darkness... although I sometimes do... for if and when I'm following Jesus, He uses the words NEVER, and WILL HAVE LIGHT.

The word translated "never" here is really a double negative - no + not. The word translated "have" is first modified by a modal auxiliary verb. (yeah ~ I find grammar kinda cool and definitely fascinating) That essentially means that the word "will" gives us more information about the meaning and function of the word "have." Generally, modals communicate information ranging from possibility to a necessity. In other words, they are concerned with ~
  1.  a possibility (i.e. the likelihood or the certitude) that an action is true or not;
  2. a possibility focused more on the distinction between freedom to act (i.e. permission) or necessity (i.e. obligation/requirement); and
  3. a possibility, again focusing on the distinction between freedom and necessity but this time the mitigating or conditioning factors come from within - meaning the subject's ability or desire to act.
In nongrammar infused English, here's the way I understand these words from Scripture ~

When I'm following Jesus - I can count on the fact that I'll never be walking in total darkness. That guarantee isn't there when I take off on my own and the guarantee isn't that it won't be dark or shadowy or obscure... just that the darkness won't be complete. But that when caveat can be huge. I will have light because we're talking about Jesus as the provider, the source, of that light. It is true because Jesus is true and never lies. Jesus cannot be less than Who He is. His very nature will never allow Him to do less than what He has promised. This truth depends on His desire and ability to act, and that is unquestionable as He's proven it so over and over and over and... It depends on the fact that He loves, that He IS... love ~ 

But, as RC Sproul wrote in The Holiness of God:  "No man was ever more loving than Jesus Christ. Yet even His love made people angry. His love was a perfect love, a transcendent and holy love, but His very love brought trauma to people. This kind of love is so majestic we can't stand it." The Pharisees run headlong into this reality in this Jesus encounter.

His love seeks always and only the best for its recipients. 

That means His love is often incomprehensible, confusing, painful, frustrating, and even terrifying.

I can try to reduce it to something I can understand - as the Pharisees did in this encounter - a witness that makes sense to me in my limited finiteness. 

THAT, ultimately, is what makes no sense. After all, how can a finite creature expect to grasp infinite love lavished upon it by its infinite Creator?

I can lose my temper when He reminds me that my strategy won't... can't... work; I can be insulted and take offense when through His Word, His world and His people, He clues me in once again to the immensity of the difference between Him and me. He is divine and One with the Father. I'm His creation to do with as He sees fit.

The above biblical passage shows one reaction by those confronted with this painful, humbling reality.

What other responses are there?

I can believe and trust.

Or, I can trust and believe. The order probably doesn't really matter as long as I do both.

I can also cry out in prayer, "Help Thou my unbelief!" and keep seeking to know and grow in my understanding of One so ultimately unknowable (outside of His revelations).

Or like the Pharisees in this encounter, I can seek to seize, not with the goal of better knowing but rather with the goal of silencing....

Today, which will it be?


...and every next day thereafter... each day that He gives?

this week's gratitude list

(#'s 4440 - 4469)
walking pneumonia seems to be healing

a History Day finalist

100% on a math quiz... finally... and the attack that class light back in her eyes

heart aches because I've so many dear ones far away to miss

my boy will be home, before this weekend

meeting people I've only known up till now via Facebook

children's Tylenol to help when the aches and pains of illness make little girls too sad

three weeks in a row of ladies' Bible study with some of the sweetest women in the world

science fair over

Winter Sports Banquet over

Spring Break looming large on the horizon

days warm enough to melt the frozen sidewalk, thus increasing the probability of getting to school without wiping out

watching squirrels in the tree outside the picture window

fresh covering of snow to cover up the ugly brown/black stuff

being sick, forcing me to rest and taking the time to do some reading of some really great books

being accountable to my boy as we both work on a habit we want to change

over halfway through a marathon season of visiting our wonderful supporting churches and ministry partners

safety as we travel so many miles

that our illnesses this term (so far) have been relatively mild, if persistent

little girls watching The Aristocrats with bemused smiles

cough drops and benedryl... and sometimes sleep even with the coughs

orange juice so readily available

listening to piano, sax and violin practice

anticipating hearing those flutes twittering away in just a few days

the testimony of a life lived well

hoping to visit with my nana in not too many days

pastors willing to think outside of the box when it comes to reporting to their churches... which will save my munchkins some hours on the road

looking forward to a weekend with Gammie and Gampy

sunshine and fluffy white clouds floating across the sky

increased financial support as we work towards Québec 2015...

Ten most recent posts in this series: 
Click here for all of the titles and their corresponding links in the Encountering Jesus series.


  1. just have to say- I love that blurry sunset picture!! So cool!

  2. thanks... i loved the vividness of the colors!

  3. Quebec 2015? What's that may I ask...

    1. More of the pieces coming into place for us as we are switching fields from Niger to Quebec, with a target date of summer, 2015 - first allowing Rebekah to graduate from Calvary, keeping two little ones in speech and language therapy for another academic year and allowing us to hopefully raise a bit more support.


Stop in for a chat! I love to hear what you have to say ~


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