Summary: Experiencing and recognizing God
Over the past several Sundays, we have talked about experiencing God in our lives. In fact, before Easter I asked you to think of a time when you may have had a face-to-face experience with God. At the time, we may not have even considered it to be such, or maybe you refused to believe it to be so.
In our reading from the Gospel according to John we find Jesus in debate with some Pharisees, during the Feast of Dedication, we call that time Hanukkah today. The Pharisees are pressuring Jesus to make the claim that He is the Messiah. However, Jesus gives them much more than a claim to being the Messiah. Listen to these words from John 10:27-30;
The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice;
I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life;
they will never be lost and no one will ever steal them from my hand.
The Father, for what he has given me, is greater than anyone,
and no one can steal anything from the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one. (John 10:27-30 NJB)
Jesus tells them something they have suspected and even feared. He as told them they are in the presence of God himself!
He has made the claim that He and God are one in the same. That the works He does comes straight from the Father through him. He recounts the words of Isaiah with him being the first person.
But Israel is saved by the Lord with everlasting salvation; you shall not be put to shame or confounded to all eternity. (Isaiah 45:17 RSV)
His claim is far more than that of a Messiah, and is too much for most of the Pharisees there. In the next three verses, you can see the reaction to verse 30.
The Jews took up stones again to stone him.
Jesus answered them, "I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of these do you stone me?"
The Jews answered him, "It is not for a good work that we stone you but for blasphemy; because you, being a man, make yourself God." (John 10:31-33 RSV)
They were angry and they did not want hear what he had to say. This was especially true, being in the presence of one who claimed authority over them.
These Pharisees are not alone in their reaction to new authority. The same goes for us today. Haven’t you experienced a time when some one new comes along who you feel hasn’t quote “paid their dues”? For example, if a person has done a job in a particular way for many years, then suddenly another person comes along and tries to change the way the job is done, then that person would most likely meet the new idea with a lot of resistance, even if the new idea was a better way of doing the job.
This is exactly how the Pharisees felt. They knew Jesus was special. Otherwise, they would not have pushed and prodded him for an answer. However, the answer they got was not the answer they wanted.
Much like for many of us today, we ask God for answers to our problems, we pray and pray. However, when God brings us the answer it is not always what we thought it should be. Some of us then reject the answer to our prayers without even realizing the power of God that is before us.
Think back to our reading from Acts chapter 9. While we do not know what Peter prayed for exactly, Luke records the actions of the power of God in this passage. For it wasn’t Peter that raised Tabitha from the dead, it was God working through Peter’s faith in Him.
It was Peter and Tabitha’s faith in God that was to be the messenger and answer to prayer for the people of Joppa. Those people were seeing the power that God had over death, and what He could do in the lives all people if they believed in Him.
One of the things I always find interesting in all of the passages where Jesus is in debate with the Pharisees is they are always trying to get him to announce that he is the Messiah. Do you ever wonder why? Have you ever found yourself when reading the Gospels going, “Jesus why don’t you tell them already?”
Why doesn’t Jesus tell them who He is? Well Jesus gives us the answer in verses 32 of John 10, when he says, “"I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of these do you stone me?"
In other words, Jesus could have said, “Actions speak louder than words.”
There were a hundred other men running around Judea, many of them right there in Jerusalem, claiming to be the Messiah. However, none of them could do what Jesus could do.