Posts Tagged ‘works’

Of works and judgement

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Scripture

Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”
“We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”
John 10:31-33

Observation

Context

  • Jesus is giving His final speech to sway the Pharisees to believe in Him
  • In this final discourse, He has spoken unreservedly about His divine identity as God and Messiah
  • The tension between the Jewish leaders and Jesus is at the critical point, Jesus has done all He could to show and tell them about Himself and His mission, they however simply could not see and understand the truth

Passage

  • “Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him”, this isn’t the first time they’ve tried that (John 8:59) (v31)
    • Even after Jesus has taught them something about themselves and the Law – that in the eyes of the Law they have all been guilty of sin and deserve it’s wages (John 8:7), they are stubbornly quick to judge
  • “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”, the fact remains that Jesus is faultless in word and deed (v32)
    • His works are no doubt good! He has healed the sick, restored sight to the blind, made the lame walk, multiplied food and raised the dead. These are not normal charitable deeds, these are morally excellent and miraculous deeds
    • Jesus as always is trying to get the Pharisees to see how their own logic does not make sense. In essense, Jesus says, “Look at my good works and hear my words, since you say that a sinner and demon-possessed cannot perform these things then consider what is the only last reasonable explanation?”
    • At this critical point, Jesus is still trying to save the Pharisees!
    • If someone is to be stoned, there was to be a charge, a trial (with testimonies from witnesses) and a sentencing, however at this point, there was none of that! So Jesus ask, what has He done to deserve stoning?
  • “We are not stoning you for any good work”, the Pharisees do not fault His work (v33)
    • It would seem that they acknowledge His work, in all that Jesus has done, He is faultless
  • “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God” the Pharisees finally lay down their charge (v33)
    • They were somehow not able to connect Jesus’ deeds with His words, and it is a shame because His deeds prove His words
    • Blasphemy is a serious charge and punishable by stoning (Leviticus 24:13-23), the way the Pharisees it, Jesus has made a fool of God by bringing God down to His level as a man
    • Little do they know (or believe) that the truth is right before their eyes! What they think to be blasphemy is God’s redemption plan for the world
    • In the end, the Pharisees stubbornly judged no different from what they began with even after seeing His works and hearing His authoritative teaching (John 7:47-48, they didn’t even entertain the possibility that he could be a prophet); in all of Jesus’ efforts, they (John 7:50, all but one) have not moved an inch to even consider otherwise

Application

If the charge of being a Christian is put before me, what “good works” have I got as evidence of my faith? Are they just simply charitable deeds or undoubtably “from the Father”? If anyone charges me as a follower of Jesus Christ, I want to be undeniably guilty in both word and deed!

Has my idea of Jesus Christ changed over the years or have I stagnated like the Pharisees have? Do I now see a more glorious, more powerful, more loving God than when I was first saved? Perhaps it is time to evaluate my mindset about God in the light of all the “good works” that He has done in my life.  

Prayer

Father, I want to be good in both word and deed. I want that quality of yours so that the world can see and know that I too am “from the Father”. I know that you do not change, but my small mind cannot conceive how good are and how glorious you are. Open my eyes to the work that you do in my life. Help me to see more of you everyday. Help me to have a bigger picture of you everyday.

Amen.

Context schmontext

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
James 1:23-25

Kudos to my younger brother (Darius) who blogged about verse, giving me fresh revelation.

Up until now, I have read verse 23 without looking beyond. Just reading verse 23-24, Paul’s exhortation to be doers sound almost like a command without a clue. It reads like, “If you listen and don’t do, you’re an idiot.”

But the true gems of this passage is found in the verses following.

“Whoever looks intently… not forgetting what they have heard… continues in it”
As Darius pointed out, the key is to be a hearer. A very persistent hearer. In a similar principle to Luke 6:45 (and Proverbs 4:23), our doing is an overflow of what we put in. The more we put in and keep putting in, more is stored inside and more will overflow! Our actions are no more than the spillover!

“into the perfect law that gives freedom”
The perfect law that gives freedom is none other than the law of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:17, Galatians 5:1). As my father says, “Practice does not make perfect, but perfect practice make perfect”, by this he means that practicing the right thing is as important as practicing itself. In context, we need to be looking intently at the right thing – the freedom in Christ. We do what we hear not out of fear or obligation but out of freedom – because we can.

“they will be blessed in what they do”
Another way of saying it in the KJV is “shall be blessed in his deed”. Our doing is blessed when (because) it stems from an outflow of persistently soaking in his freedom.

It’s hard to do, but it certainly is not hard to persistently enjoy the freedom that is in Christ!