I was insulted by Jesus today. I didn’t hear a voice or a sign or anything like that. I was merely reading the Bible. Merely, is how I often look at reading Scripture. However, it is this mindset I’ve learned is quite the same as the mindset of the Pharisees when Jesus tells them, “Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word” [John 8:43]. When we assume we know more than we do and assume Scripture is merely to help us be better sinners, we cannot hear Jesus. How could we? This isn’t the point of His Word at all.
In The Hobbit, the company of the dwarves, Bilbo and Gandalf have just narrowly escaped the band of orcs hunting them. Their refuge is the Elvish kingdom of Rivendell. The dwarves do not get along with the Elves. At all. In their stubbornness, they would almost rather die than accept help from the Elves because they feel the Elves betrayed them when they most needed aid in the past. Gandalf is speaking to Elrond, the ruler of Rivendell, in Elvish. The dwarves do not understand what they are saying. In their distrust, they assume incorrectly. They assume the Elves are thinking the same way about them as they are about the Elves.
“Argggg does he offer us insult?!” The dwarves are all riled up.
“No, master dwarf, he offers you food.” Gandalf corrects and assures them.
This quiets them, and they lay down their arms. If there is one thing the dwarves would not turn down from the Elves, it would be food. Elrond, of course, knows this.
Jesus means to feed us with His word, too. But we don’t come to Him hungry enough, or at all. The dwarves at least understood their need, do we?
The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath [Mark 2:27]. The Pharisees and scribes seemed to use the Law as something to convince them of their goodness. They convinced themselves they followed it and were thus not good sinners but truly good men. Men for the Law. Jesus says, though, the Sabbath is made for man. The Law is for man to convince himself of his inability to keep it, his need for help. The Sabbath is for man to become more than man, to share in the Christ-life. There is no other means for him to be a good man. He must be given goodness from the Father of goodness Himself. Even Jesus does not call Himself good but rather His Father in heaven. So when I come to the Word and lay down my assumptions of what I know and my expectations of how to become a better sinner, I find it can actually be a conversation, and I can hear.
“A missionary in Brazil has adopted a form of lection [reading] which encourages struggling communities to read their lives through the Word of God, and the Word of God through their lives.”[Father John Welch on an ancient form of praying with Scripture called Lectio Divina]
I am reading the Gospel of John. The scribes and the Pharisees had just brought the adulterous woman to Jesus to test Him, so they might accuse Him (chapter 8). The Law of Moses says to stone those caught in adultery. Jesus tells them the one without sin ought to throw the first stone. They all leave. He says to the woman He does not condemn her and to sin no more. Jesus, then, continues to teach the Jews in the temple. Everything He says they have an answer or rebuttal for because they do not understand fully. Maybe they’re insulted, too.
“The truth will make you free.” [Jesus]
“We are the descendants of Abraham and have never yet been enslaved to anyone.” [Jews]
“Everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin…I know you are Abraham’s descendants; yet you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. I speak the things which I have seen with My Father; therefore you also do the things which you heard from your father.” [Jesus]
“Abraham is our father.” [Jews]
“…this (seeking to kill a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God) Abraham did not do. You are doing the deeds of your father.” [Jesus]
“We were not born of fornication; we have one Father: God.” [Jews]
“If God were your Father, you would love Me…You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning…and the father of lies…If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.” [Jesus]
“Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?” [Jews]
“I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father…if anyone keeps My word he will never see death.” [Jesus]
“Now we know that You have a demon. Abraham died, and the prophets also…Surely You are not greater than our father Abraham, who died? …whom do you make yourself out to be? [Jews]
“If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me…Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” [Jesus]
“You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” [Jews]
“Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.” [Jesus]
They (Jews) picked up stones to throw at Him.
Yep, I would have too.
Regardless of whether the Jews were actually like this with Jesus, I can totally see people reacting this way because I see it in myself. I can hear the same dialogue in my head. I don’t lay down gently in an argument. I want to be right. Being told there is something better or something I missed pokes at the care I take in choosing the best way. Reveals I do not always, more like certainly not always, choose the best way. Maybe it only affects the easily insulted kind, who fall to the indignation produced by the toxic combination of pride and stubbornness, like me. But Jesus is not merely trying to be right. He says His glory is nothing. He is telling the truth. We often just do not want to hear it.
Who do You think you are, Jesus? Who do You think you are to tell me what I have known and learned my whole life is not the full story? Is not the point of the story at all? Who are You to tell me what I can or cannot do? Who I am and where I come from? What is or isn’t my right? [Lauren]
I come from the Father, not to glorify Myself but to testify to the truth. [Jesus]
So what You are saying is I am wrong? Your way is better than my way? I have been walking in vain my entire life? [Lauren]
The Jews were the keepers of the Law for goodness sake. God gave them Moses and the commandments did He not? Who, then, is Jesus to say God is not their Father? Well, I guess only their Father could tell them this, indeed. [Thought]
You are Lauren Elizabeth Sajewich. Your father is Lyle Sajewich and your mother Julie Sajewich. Your brother Adam is three and a half years older than you. You often resented Me for letting your dad get sick, blamed Me for his disease. You felt I had slighted you, taken a normal childhood away from you. You have been feeding yourself on the approval and praise of man because you don’t trust Me. I didn’t give Lyle the healing you asked for. You were a good girl, and I didn’t see you. You decided you knew what was better for you than Me. Could take care of yourself better than I could. You believed dependence was weakness to be avoided entirely. Our relationship became superficial. Not only did you not trust Me with the gifts I had given you, but you also didn’t trust Me with the depths of your heart. I became only a means of knowing what the right thing to do was. Just like My children, the Israelites, confused knowing the Law for knowing Me. How often My heart burned for them, longed to gather them under My wings. Just as it does for you, Lauren. I do know you. I do know where you are from, even where you are going. I do not offer you the truth of who I am to insult all you have known and all the effort you have put forth to do what is right. I offer you the truth of who I am to show you who you are, truly. To tell you I have known you before you were formed in Julie’s womb. To fulfill and make personal your efforts in doing right. I want you. I want you to want Me. I want your desire to be for My praise and approval, not man’s. I love man, but I know what is in man’s heart. It will disappoint you. I will not. I will not ever leave you. You will often be led astray and take the wrong path. I love and agonize over free will for this. I weep when you weep. I weep when you suffer. Your mind may not understand and will sometimes believe I have disappointed you or left you. But remember, please remember, I desire your heart. This is My promise to you. To love it and take care of it. Do not be afraid of all it is. I know you. I love you, Lauren. I do not wish for you to be angry with Me. You can stay or you can go. This right comes from the goodness of the Father. Just as all goodness comes from the Father. He sent Me for you. To tell you the truth. I ask only you accept My death for you, repent and believe. For I am the Lover of your soul. [Jesus]
My heart burns.
This is the dialogue the Lord wants me to hear. This is the Word that burns. He does not soften the blow of my sin for me to feel better about myself. He took the blow of my sin, in His nailed hands and feet, His pierced side and bloodied body, to make me right with God, to give me a way back to Him.
Lord, “burn me beautiful, burn me lovely, burn me righteous, burn me holy.” [Maverick City Music_Refiner] [Lauren]
“Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us.”[Mere Christianity]
What am I doing with my life if not bowing before Jesus, my Lord and Christ? He does not come to offer me insult but food. Truth and life. He comes to offer me Himself. If only I lay down my arms and change my mind. The truth is not the truth if it merely tickles my ears. The Word made flesh is meant to cut to the heart. If I only expect it to teach me what is right and wrong and convince me of my goodness, I will not understand. I will not hear Him.
PS- the words of Jesus in my dialogue with Him are not directly from Scripture. They are my thoughts based on what I have read in Scripture.