Solidarity with Jesus

John 10:19-21 WEB

Therefore a division arose again among the Jews because of these words. [20] Many of them said, “He has a demon, and is insane! Why do you listen to him?” [21] Others said, “These are not the sayings of one possessed by a demon. It isn’t possible for a demon to open the eyes of the blind, is it?”

Jesus had trouble. In the verses above he is in a crowd and some of the people listening begin to accuse him of being demonized and insane. This is not so different from what believers experience today. In Christian circles, some would call Jesus demonized. At the same time, unbelievers today would likely call Jesus insane.

Jesus definitely had trouble at times when he was sharing the truth. Yet he spoke the truth anyways. Jesus did not get overwhelmed with a spirit of rejection or self-protection. Rather, he continued telling the truth which was a true act of love. Because Jesus loved others more than he loved himself he was able to stand for truth. Jesus also loved the Father more than he loved himself. That love helped him to defeat his flesh and stand for God.

Jesus experienced rejection and shame, yet, he did not turn against God. Instead, Jesus spent time in prayer, he knew the scriptures, and he testified to the truth. And many were saved. Today we are still mandated to witness to unbelievers with the hope that some will be saved (Mark 16:15-16). When we start sharing Christ, some will slander us and call us names. These are beautiful opportunities to lay our lives down, show the love of God, and stand in solidarity with Jesus.

Lord, please lead me into a love that is greater than my sense of self-protection. Teach me to love you and others more than I love myself. Help me to open my mouth and testify of your greatness and anoint me to lead others into a saving knowledge of You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Jesus’ Truth

John 8:52-55 WEB

Then the Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon. Abraham died, and the prophets; and you say, ‘If a man keeps my word, he will never taste of death.’ [53] Are you greater than our father, Abraham, who died? The prophets died. Who do you make yourself out to be?” [54] Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say that he is our God. [55] You have not known him, but I know him. If I said, ‘I don’t know him,’ I would be like you, a liar. But I know him, and keep his word.

White lies. American culture practically runs on them. We thoughtlessly go through conversational motions without realizing we casually tell white lies for the sake of good. But this was not Jesus’ problem. He did not tell white lies. Nor did he tell possible lies. He told what he believed to be true and for this choice, he was called a demon.

Jesus was also called a demon for bringing a new idea. That was, salvation comes from obedience to Christ versus obedience to the law. When you stop and think about how counterculture this idea of obeying Jesus was, it makes it easy to understand the crowd calling Jesus a demon.

Another reason for saying Jesus had a demon was because he said he knew God. Someone in our modern era would probably be called a demon for saying they knew God. It is stunning that Jesus went through everything we go through. Even being pressured to recant, he holds firm when he says of the Father, “…I know him, and keep his word.”

Lord Jesus, I want to be like you. Please forgive me for telling white lies to preserve myself. Help me trust you fully and teach me to kindly say the truth. Teach me to keep silent when appropriate so I do not cause harm in disagreement. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Disciple in Deed

John 8:48-51 WEB

Then the Jews answered him, “Don’t we say well that you are a Samaritan, and have a demon?” [49] Jesus answered, “I don’t have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. [50] But I don’t seek my own glory. There is one who seeks and judges. [51] Most certainly, I tell you, if a person keeps my word, he will never see death.”

This verse gives the secret to eternal life. Many would say the secret is to believe in Jesus. But Jesus testified that anyone who does the work of obeying his word is a believer. Jesus says those are his true disciples.

Modern-day discipleship looks very different. In Jesus’ day, a Rabbi was a teacher who had a small cadre of disciples. The Rabbi attempted to impart their beliefs and teachings to this small group. In Jesus’ day, his disciples would have stayed as close as possible. They would have tried not to be more than an arm’s length away from their Rabbi. In fact, that may be why Peter, James, and John were in Christ’s inner circle. They chose to stay as close as possible to their master.

In our modern era, we have discipleship declared by the disciple rather than the teacher. Each of us is to be a disciple of Christ. We are going to be called names and condescended to, that’s part of the disciple package. Remember, the world loves its own. If you try to follow Jesus perfectly you may be called a religious nut or demonized. They did that to Jesus.

Lord Jesus, please draw me close to you so that I may walk the way you walked. I want to be a disciple in deeds and not words only. Come and work with me Lord and help me grow in godliness. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Schizophrenic or Demonized

John 8:47-49 WEB

He who is of God hears the words of God. For this cause you don’t hear, because you are not of God.” [48] Then the Jews answered him, “Don’t we say well that you are a Samaritan, and have a demon?” [49] Jesus answered, “I don’t have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me.

The accusation of being demonized is a plague in the church. It caused Jesus trouble, and it causes us trouble. One of the challenges is someone owns the church building. Someone’s name is on the utility bill. And that someone has a vision they are pursuing. So, when someone from the crowd brings a word of correction, an easy out is to call them demonized. People’s lives and mental health are damaged by these careless accusations.

You see how easily Jesus was accused of being demonized. And don’t make a mistake about it, Jesus suffered because of those accusations. Just like every believer suffers from such accusations. For example, when you call someone a demon who has schizophrenia, they will likely stop taking their medicines because you prayed for them, and they believe they are well. So now, once their mental health issues arise, most churches would ask the member to leave.

Calling someone a demon should not be an easy decision to make. For Christians, it is the ultimate shaming tool. To tell someone they have a demon is to accuse them of a partnership with Satan. That implies deliberate intent. That is the problem with even suggesting a demon is involved.

Lord Jesus, help me never accuse someone of having a demon. Let me bring those concerns to only you so that everyone can have their privacy. Give me the wisdom to understand what is going on with other believers. Help me focus on them enough to understand their issue. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Why Bible College?

John 7:19-20 WEB

Didn’t Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keeps the law? Why do you seek to kill me?” [20] The multitude answered, “You have a demon! Who seeks to kill you?”

Jesus was speaking to a crowd, or multitude, of people. The crowd was in Jerusalem for the Feast of Booths. They were pressing into the outer courts of the temple, both commoners and leaders. Everyone wanted to hear Jesus. Some were there for innocent reasons. Many were not. It’s to this group Jesus says, “Why do you seek to kill me?”

This is where things get interesting. The masses of Israel, or the crowd, were easy to influence. When Jesus called the leaders out for their deadly plot, the leaders likely encouraged the crowd to shout demon (Mark 15:11, Acts 17:8). So, they screamed, “You have a demon! Who seeks to kill you?”

Hold up. What? That verse says Jesus has a demon! Of course, we know the crowd is wrong. But it is important to recognize not all the people in the Bible tell the truth (Gen 12:11, Acts 5:2-3). The Bible contains the truth, and it is the truth.

However, in many places in the Bible, writing structures such as sarcasm (Mat 12:1-3), chiasm (Gen 9:6), and misdirection (Jud 7:16-22) are used to convey the truth. So, how you read the Bible matters. Would you recognize sarcasm as a deliberate writing structure? Can you identify a chiasm?

It is critical to recognize the importance of Bible School. It is not a bad thing to come from the masses, or from a humble beginning. It is a bad thing to have access to training and yet fail to educate yourself before you teach the Bible (1 Cor 9:25). The Lord said people should not seek to be teachers (Mat 23:8). The implication is leaders are responsible for what they teach the flock.

However, some teachers cannot go to school. The Holy Spirit will help you with your task (Mat 10:19). For most people, training is available. Even in the most devastated places, there are missionary schools to train local pastors.

Lord Jesus, please teach me to read the Bible with wisdom and understanding. Please forgive me for any past errors. In Jesus’ name, amen.