God is Setting All Things Right. So I am Blogging Through the Bible in a Year.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

October 8 - John 5: The Pharisees Read the Bible but Miss Jesus

Today’s Reading: John 5

The Message

English Standard Version

Thought to Guide Your Reading

The Pharisees read the Bible thinking they could game the system.

Summary in 100 Words or Less

Jesus healed a man by telling him to get up and carry his bedroll. Jews accused the man of working during the Sabbath. Later, Jesus suggested he put it down to maintain peace. The Pharisees confronted Jesus.
He answered, "The Father works on the Sabbath, and so does the Son. Dishonoring Me is the same as dishonoring the Father. I am not out for My Interests. My Works prove My Authority. By missing Me you miss the Father.
"You think that reading the Scriptures will set things right but they point to Me! If you believe Moses, believe Me."

How Today’s Reading Contributes to the Gospel: God is Setting All Things Right

The Pharisees did not understand the purpose of the Sabbath.

All of the Gospels will have something to say about the Sabbath. Today is John's day. All of them say similar things about the Pharisees, too. They are zealous for the Law. They want to obey God, but they are more interested in rules than finding God. God said not to work, so they were determined not to work. They dissected every action to see if was work or not. But in doing so they missed the purpose of the Sabbath—growing closer to God through rest. If we spend our time dissecting the Law, we may miss its purpose—setting our relationships right.

Jesus told the man to stop sinning to keep peace with the Pharisees.

Jesus' suggestion to the man is strange. We have no clue what sins the man has committed in the past and Jesus asked him to carry his bedroll. Why would Jesus, then, tell the man to stop sinning so nothing worse would happen to him? What was his sin? I believe the suggestion was Jesus not wanting to give the Pharisees fodder for their complaints against Him. It's possible (to me, at least) that when Jesus says "sin no more" He doesn't mean a "sin" like we think—going against God's Way. I believe He means "offend", as in the man was offending the Pharisees by carrying his bedroll in front of them. Jesus is protecting the man from the wrath of the Pharisees.
For today, I believe it may be better from time-to-time to conform to the less-free people in a congregation just to keep the peace. We know what they want is not important in the long-term, but in the short-term peace is better than fighting. Sometimes, the better choice is peace over freedom. Sometimes, not always.

Jesus and God were One because They were of the same Mind.

Jesus was God. Jesus became flesh so we might see the Light. He did only what God did because they wanted the same thing—to set things right. Jesus did nothing to make His name greater than God. This is why dishonor of Jesus is the same as dishonor of God. They do the same thing.

Those who set things right will live forever. Those who do not will be punished forever.

God's Judgment through Jesus has often become the only thing Christians want to talk about. We wonder if every action will help us gain Eternal Life or if it will cause Eternal Punishment. Although that level of interest is not good, we cannot go to the other end of the spectrum and state that God's Judgment is no big thing. It becomes the day when everyone will either be punished or rewarded for their role in setting things right. We should want to set things right not only because God's Way is superior, but because we want everyone to have Eternal Life.

Reading the Scripture does not give Eternal Life.

I cannot comment on this verse without the sense of irony that for over nine months I have been reading through the Bible for several hours a day. With that said (or written), this verse led me to do this project. I felt with all of my years of study, all of the lectures and sermons I had heard, and the years of class I attended I had one, important deficiency—I struggled to see Jesus in the Scriptures. I did what Jesus complained the Pharisees did—I "miss[ed] the forest for the trees" (v. 39, The Message). So much of theology today falls into that category. We debate the authenticity of Moses writing the Pentateuch, Isaiah's authorship of the book bearing his name, and how much written in the Gospels actually happened. We argue over church theology, personal theology, and whether we should fight liberalism or conservatism. We read to see how much we can get away with before we land on the hot seat or how rigid our lives must be to be acceptable. In the end, I think Jesus would say the same to us,
You have your heads in your Bibles constantly because you think you’ll find eternal life there. But you miss the forest for the trees. These Scriptures are all about me! And here I am, standing right before you, and you aren’t willing to receive from me the life you say you want. (vv. 39-40)
Reading the Scriptures alone seeing how little you must do to gain eternal life will not set things right. We must see God in them to understand the Scriptures.

Do you read the Bible thinking it will give you Eternal Life?

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