"Don't act so surprised at all this. The time is coming when everyone dead and buried will hear his voice. Those who have lived the right way will walk out into a resurrection Life; those who have lived the wrong way, into a resurrection Judgment.
"I can't do a solitary thing on my own: I listen, then I decide. You can trust my decision because I'm not out to get my own way but only to carry out orders. If I were simply speaking on my own account, it would be an empty, self-serving witness. But an independent witness confirms me, the most reliable Witness of all. Furthermore, you all saw and heard John, and he gave expert and reliable testimony about me, didn't he?
"But my purpose is not to get your vote, and not to appeal to mere human testimony. I'm speaking to you this way so that you will be saved. John was a torch, blazing and bright, and you were glad enough to dance for an hour or so in his bright light. But the witness that really confirms me far exceeds John's witness. It's the work the Father gave me to complete. These very tasks, as I go about completing them, confirm that the Father, in fact, sent me. The Father who sent me, confirmed me. And you missed it. You never heard his voice, you never saw his appearance. There is nothing left in your memory of his Message because you do not take his Messenger seriously.” // John 5:28-38, The Message
This is another passage where there is a lot going on. It is thick with meaning. We could be here for hours working our through it. But, that’s not the purpose of this little semi-daily devotional. The purpose is for me to share one thing that stuck out to me and that I will be meditating on for the rest of the day. Then, perhaps you will too.
What hit me today was that last little bit.
“There is nothing left in your memory of his Message because you do not take his Message seriously.”
I wonder if many Christians in America get so sideways because we have not taken his Message seriously?
We get pretty worked up about particular data points in the story of Jesus. But, we seem to have missed the Message. I am so guilty of this. I see it everyday in my interactions with others. There are times that I’m sarcastic, cutting, and mean. Many times what is happening inside my mind is so ugly, that as I review the day, I realize again how much in need of grace I am.
When we boil down everything about Jesus into a set of data points then what matters most is intellectual ascent. It seems that these data points are:
Intellectual ascent to a virgin birth
Intellectual ascent that Jesus lived
Intellectual ascent that Jesus died by means of crucifixion
Intellectual ascent that Jesus rose from the dead
I am in no way belittling these beliefs. I think they are important and crucial beliefs. I hold to them.
What I am finding in my own life as I continue to learn more about what it means to follow Jesus is that his life and his message was so much more than those four beliefs. These data points are not life changing.
When I first became aware of this, I was sitting in my friend Bob’s living room. He is a mentor and father figure to me. Amy and I were there with a handful of other couples for a small group bible study. It was a wonderful time of fellowship and going deep into one another’s lives. One night he asked the question, “What does grace mean?” Everyone sat in silence. So, Bob said, “Dan and Amy, you’re on staff with Campus Crusade, what’s the definition?” Me, being the self-righteous, self-important know-it-all exclaimed, “Unmerited favor!”
Bob asked the follow up, “What’s so amazing about that?”
As we walk with Jesus we are confronted with one who invites the outsider in. We are confronted by one who is the embodiment of love. I understood the “grace data point,” but I didn’t understand the depths of it, the beauty of it, the reality that it was an idea that changed the world.
I had yet to take the Message seriously.
When we take the Message seriously we are transformed into people who are seeking to be like Jesus. A people who try to take with us in our bodies the death and resurrection of Christ. We try to embody grace, truth, and love. To take the Message seriously is to be transformed in how we live, not just in what we believe.