He Speaketh Boldly

John 7:25-27.

Then said some of them of Jerusalem, Is not this He, whom they seek to kill?

But, lo, he speaketh boldly, and they say nothing unto Him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is the very Christ?

Howbeit we know this man whence He is: but when Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence he is.

Jesus at the Festival of Booths | Life of Jesus

It was common practice for a teacher or speaker to sit, while his listeners either sat around him or stood farther off. I don’t know if Jesus stood or sat during this dialogue with the people. Either is entirely possible.

In any event, there was a stir! Some of the people who heard Him said among themselves, “Isn’t this the One they want to kill? Look, He’s very bold, and isn’t afraid! Do our rulers realize this is indeed the Christ?”

And you may think, “Well, the people knew it was really Christ!”

But look at the next verse. Some of them may have understood Who He was, but not all did.

“We know this Man; we know where He comes from, and Who His parents are. There’s no mystery about Him. When the real Christ comes, no one will know where He comes from! It will be a complete mystery, a surprise!”

They were basing this belief partly on Malachi 3:1, which says that the Messenger of God will come suddenly to the Temple. The general belief seems to have been that He would burst into the scene out of nowhere, and no one would have known ahead of time that He even existed.

The word suddenly, in this context, does not mean appearing as if by magic, Rather, it could be translated as unexpectedly, or straightforwardly. Jesus was certainly straightforward!

Jesus’ response to the comments of the people was, perhaps to them, surprising, sudden, and straightforward. We’ll look at that tomorrow.

Judge Not on Appearances Only

John 7: 21-24.

Jesus answered and said unto them, I have done one work, and ye all marvel.

Moses therefore gave unto you circumcision; (not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers;) and ye on the Sabbath day circumcise a man.

If a man on the sabbath day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are ye angry at Me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day?

Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.

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The Jewish leaders had just accused Jesus of having a demon, and asked Him who He thought was seeking to kill Him. He knew they were false, and He spoke accordingly.

His response cut through all the verbiage, and made them face their own hypocrisy.

I have done one work. . .” Jesus referred to the man He had healed, made whole and complete, on the sabbath day, and what a stir it created in Jerusalem.

Moses therefore gave unto you circumcision”: Circumcision was to be done on the eighth day after the birth of a son, to fulfill the Law of Moses and the forefathers, given by God. This was the case even if the procedure had to be done on the Sabbath, when no work was allowed.

“If a man on the Sabbath day receive circumcision,” If you are allowed to perform a painful procedure on the Sabbath, to fulfill the Law, then why are you so angry at Me for making a man whole and complete on the Sabbath?

“Judge not according to the appearance. . .” There could probably be several sermons delivered on this verse alone. The leaders felt that Jesus appeared to be a sinner; therefore, they appeared to be righteous. They were wrong on both counts. There cannot be a righteous judgment based only on appearance, partly because appearance can change from each person’s perspective. That is why, in a court of law, there must be more than one witness who agree on what they observed. The decision must be made based on righteous, unbiased judgment; not on appearances only.

Jesus told the Jewish leaders to put aside their prejudice (an interesting word that means to judge in advance; in other words, to make up one’s mind before all the facts are considered, to pre-judge) and to judge only on the basis of righteousness.

Jesus’ healing of the man had been done in righteousness. There was no sin, no breaking of the Law.

Thou Hast a Devil!

John 7: 19-20.

Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill Me?

The people answered and said, Thou hast a devil: who goeth about to kill Thee?

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Jesus spoke directly to the religious leaders here. He had just told them that He was sinless, and had no unrighteousness in Him because He sought to bring glory not to Himself, but to the Father.

Then He said to them that their revered leader, Moses, had brought them the Law, but that they did not keep the law.

Outrageous! How dare this unknown nobody from Nazareth of Galilee accuse the LEADERS of not keeping the law? They were meticulous to a fault about so many things; the one important thing they missed was to acknowledge their own weakness and sin before God.

Then Jesus added fuel to the fire, asking them why they were seeking to kill Him.

“What are you talking about? You must have a demon in You! Who is seeking to kill You? You’re CRAZY!”

He was sinless, and none of them kept the law. No one could keep the entire Law the entire time. That’s why we needed a Savior!

The people didn’t know that the leaders wanted to kill Him because He had healed a man on the Sabbath. Of course, almost every word He said from that point onward just added fuel to their fire. So they used an accusation that we still use today when we disagree with someone: You’re nuts! Crazy as a loon!

They knew He wasn’t crazy. They also knew He was a threat to their power over the people.

The Doctrine of God

John 7:17-18.

If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of Myself.

He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh His glory that sent Him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him.

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The people had questioned how Jesus knew the scriptures, since He had never been formally taught. His response was that He was speaking not His own doctrine, but that of the Father Who had sent Him.

Now he goes on to tell his hearers that anyone who is seeking the will of God will know that the words Jesus speaks are God’s words, or if He is simply speaking of Himself, to bring glory to Himself.

Anyone who speaks of himself in such a setting is seeking his own glory. But Jesus’ whole purpose in coming to earth had been to do the will of the Father, and to bring all glory to His Name. Jesus was not on a self-promotion tour. Everything He said and did was in obedience to His Father.

He told the people that anyone who seeks the Father’s glory, that person is speaking truth, and there is no unrighteousness in him at all.

As we continue through this amazing gospel, and in reading the other three gospels, we hear Jesus teaching in a variety of ways. He uses parables. He uses scripture. But He never says or does anything without the purpose of giving the Father all the glory. Even when He says that He is the living Bread, the Water of Life, He is not pointing to His own greatness but to the greatness of the Father in His purpose of sending down salvation through the Son. Jesus was humble, not self-seeking.

Anyone who has the immense privilege of teaching or preaching God’s Word is wise to heed Jesus’ example. It’s fine to use a story from one’s own life if it brings attention and glory to God, and not to self. Jesus never demanded glory for Himself, but only for the Father.

Sunday Morning Coffee: More Time for Music

This is certainly not the first time I’ve written about music, one of the passions of my life. It is the first time, though, that I’ve written during a pandemic in which we’ve been “encouraged” to stay home, practice social distancing, and shelter in place. I don’t get bored, thank goodness. There is always something or the other I can do. And lately, I’ve been spending more time at my piano.

My arthritic fingers make playing the piano more difficult. And I’m rusty. I don’t play for church any more, and that has reduced my incentive to practice daily. Advice for you younger folks: Don’t let your piano gather dust. Continue playing, even if it’s a bit painful. Doctors have told me that playing piano and typing are both very good to help keep stiff hands from freezing up.

Anyway, I’m also doing more listening. I have an eclectic collection of music. My tastes range from the southern gospel I learned to love as a child, listening to the Blackwood Brothers with Rudy Atwood at the piano (HE was my hero!) to classical sacred, to all the famous romantic, classical, and earlier composers. I love movie themes, pop songs, ragtime. I’m not into most of what is popular among kids today, but I still enjoy the music I loved as a kid myself, from the ’50’s and ’60’s.

Still, my favorite is the gospel style in which the piano accompanist is so incredibly amazing. Some of you will remember Anthony Burger, who died way too young. He was beyond amazing.

Yesterday, talking with Terry, he quoted the words from a well-known gospel song, wondering if its origins were in the spirituals of the slaves on southern plantations. I didn’t think so, but wasn’t positive. So–I love my computer–I looked it up. And I learned a few things!

Albert Brumley, 1905 -1977, was the writer and composer of the song we were discussing, This World is not my Home. It was published in 1946 in Sentimental Songs by the Stamps-Baxter Music and Printing Co.

The first time I remember hearing and singing this song was in 1957 when we moved to Oregon. We sang it in youth group, and it’s been a favorite ever since. I was 10, and the song was just one year older 🙂

Brumley wrote I’ll Fly Away, I’ll Meet You in the Morning, and many other well-known gospel songs. Here’s another one I especially like:

Those of you who share my love for this music will recognize many, many faces of those who have gone on to heaven, and are singing with total abandon in the Glory Hallelujah Choir up there.

Sometimes I can hardly wait to take my place in the alto section of that choir, singing a new song for all of eternity.

Or maybe, in heaven, I won’t be limited by my earthly vocal range. Huh. Never thought about that before 🙂

Saturday Memories

I had a restless night, and woke up late this morning. Took me several seconds to get oriented to what day of the week it is. Lots of people say that not being in their regular routine makes one day seem like all the others.

Anyway, I got to thinking about Saturdays as I was growing up. Saturday was chore day. Mom took care of the week’s laundry down in the basement. It was a lot more work then. Wringer washer, no dryer. In good weather, she could hang things outside. In not-so-good weather, there were lines in the basement for hanging the wet clothes. It was also the time of mixing her own starch, blue and pleasant-smelling, for Dad’s white shirts. As things dried, she took them down, sprinkled from a coke bottle filled with water and corked with a gadget that had holes in it. She rolled the clothes up, put them in her plastic ironing bag, and zipped it shut. In hot weather, the bag went into the fridge. We didn’t have the conveniences of wrinkle-free fabrics back then. We learned to iron pillow cases, handkerchiefs, and all our own clothes when Mom felt we were capable of handling a hot iron. I always enjoyed the smell the heat of the iron released from the clean clothing.

While all that was going on downstairs, my sister and I were cleaning. We had it divided up, and switched off every other week. I don’t remember the details now, but it seems that the one who did the floors also cleaned the bathroom. The other did the dusting (lots of woodwork back then) and the general picking up, putting away, and taking out the trash. I hated dusting. Still do. Boring and futile.

Our tools: Dust mop, carpet sweeper, rags, furniture polish, cleanser. We didn’t have a vacuum until later, but that carpet sweeper did a good job.

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Once the chores were finished, we were free to go outdoors, or, if the weather was bad, to stay in and read, play games, listen to music, or maybe bake a batch of cookies or some other dessert. Mom rested on Saturday afternoons. She worked full time at a bank in downtown Minneapolis, and she treasured her Saturdays.

Saturday night was bath-and-hair-washing night. Afterward, Mom would set our hair by making tight pin curls anchored with Bobbie pins. The result the next day was a Shirley Temple look, but parted down the middle, no bangs. I remember asking her if I could start doing my own hair when I was around eight years old. There were some disasters along the way, but at least I didn’t have that awful headful of fuzzy curls any more!

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Shirley was such a cute little girl!

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In our pre-teens and early teens, we wore long pony tails. Everyone did 🙂

Well, it’s just the two of us now, going on 51 years together. No little kids to help with household tasks. Saturdays are not organized the way they were when I was growing up, or even when our kids were still at home. It’s a relaxing day, though, now that we’re finished with extracurricular school activities and such. And right now, it seems like any other day. I’m hearing different predictions: The lockdown ends May 1; no, June 1; no, depends on statistics; no, partial lifting of suggested restrictions. Bottom line: No one really knows for sure.

I noticed a post on Facebook this morning about old-fashioned Depression-style cooking. I’ll probably take a look, but I grew up with a mother who grew up during the Depression. I already know how to cook inexpensive, hearty food. I know how to substitute one ingredient for another; and how to make meat-free meals that really do fill you up. Nothing new, is there?

Happy Saturday to you, however you spend it 🙂

How Does He Know?

John 7:14-16.

Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught.

And the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this Man letters, having never learned?

Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not Mine, but His that sent Me.

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While the people of Jerusalem were whispering about Jesus, wondering if He were at the feast, He entered Jerusalem quietly. Midway through the festivities, He went into the Temple and began to teach.

Can you imagine hearing the Creator, the source of life, the Son of God, teaching about the scriptures that He had inspired?

The people again began to murmur among themselves: “He’s not educated! How does He know to teach the scriptures, when He never learned to read?”

As usual, Jesus was not afraid to respond to the whispering. His response was simple and direct: “I speak not My own words, but the doctrine of My Father, Who sent Me.”

There it is again: His assertion that He was indeed Messiah, Son of God. Stunning and simple.

I have heard many eloquent preachers, teachers, and speakers in the course of my life. None of them, though, can compare to the authority, eloquence and gifted teaching of Jesus Christ. He spoke scripture. It is the Word of God that brings conviction into the hearts of mankind.

Jesus then brought attention to the fact that He was teaching not His own words, but the doctrine of God. That’s what was important then, and it is still important now.

Jesus Went Secretly

John 7:10-13.

But when His brethren were gone up, then went He also up unto the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret.

Then the Jews sought Him at the feast, and said, Where is He?

And there was much murmuring among the people concerning Him: for some said, He is a good man: others said, Nay; but He deceiveth the people.

Howbeit no man spake openly of Him for fear of the Jews.

John 7 - Holy Bible English - BibleWordings.com

There are some who like to point to this passage as proof that Jesus was not sinless; He lied to His brothers by telling them that He would not go with them to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles. In fact, He went in secret some time after they had left!

There was no lying here. His brothers wanted Him to go in a crowd of others, making a big to-do along the way and perhaps performing some great miracle in Jerusalem. Jesus knew that the Jewish leaders would be looking for Him, perhaps planning to arrest Him. It wasn’t time for that yet. He would go, but in His own time and His own way. I wonder if, later, His brothers realized that His going privately instead of with them may have saved them from some trouble themselves.

Jerusalem was literally buzzing with talk about Jesus. “He’s a good man!” “No! He deceives the people! He’s claiming to be God! Heresy!”

They were there to celebrate the shelters their forefathers had built in the wilderness, and God’s providential care for them. Instead, their attention was on this Man from Galilee Who was creating such a stir with His miracles, and with His astonishing claim of being Messiah, Son of God, Bread of Life, Living Water!

Some people may have tried to dig into His birth, life, parentage; there must be something they could find that would discredit Him. People want to know, and they love to gossip without any real knowledge of the facts. No wonder Jesus went privately, avoiding being caught up in the maelstrom of gossip and rumor.

They did all this gossip in whispers, though. They didn’t want to be caught talking about Jesus. They could end up in hot water themselves, and that would never do.

The World Hates Me

John 7:6-9.

Then Jesus said unto them, My time is not yet come: but your time is alway ready.

The world cannot hate you; but Me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil.

Go ye up unto this feast: I go not up yet unto this feast; for My time is not yet full come.

When He had said these words unto them, He abode still in Galilee.

The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that ...

Jesus’ time was completely submitted to the will and purpose of the Father, but His brothers had no understanding of what He had come to do. For them, any time was a good time to go up to Jerusalem to celebrate a feast; for Jesus, the timing was not yet right.

Verse 7 is a rather startling rebuke. What Jesus said, in essence, was that His brothers were of the same mindset as the world in which they lived. They agreed with the prevailing ideas of right and wrong, and were comfortable in the presence of ungodly behavior. There was no reason for the world to hate them. That would change later, as they began to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. But for now, they were not hated.

Jesus, however, had no inhibitions about confronting sin in all its forms, and that is why the religious leaders hated Him with a ferocity that is stunning, In spite of all the good He did, they hated Him for pointing out their sin, and speaking truth into their lives. Hated Him with a ferocious anger. They wanted Him gone.

How do we respond when God’s Word touches our own secret, treasured sin? Our reactions say a lot about our true relationship with God. Rebuke is not fun or easy; accepting it is a mark of maturity and godliness.

Jesus told them, “You go on and attend the festivities. I’m not going just yet. My time (God’s time) is not yet come.” And after His brothers left, Jesus remained for a while in Galilee.

His brothers wanted Him to go publicly, and do some mighty miracle in the presence of the crowds that surged through Jerusalem at any feast. That’s not what Jesus wanted, because it wasn’t time for Him yet to announce Himself in such a way.

A Challenge

John 7: 2-5.

Now the Jews’ feast of tabernacles was at hand.

His brethren therefore said unto Him, Depart hence, and go into Judaea, that Thy disciples also may see the works that Thou doest.

For there is no man that doeth any thing in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly. If Thou do these things, shew Thyself to the world.

For neither did His brethren believe in Him.

100 Best Sayings About Brethren, Brethren Quotes - Jar of Quotes

We lived in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood when I was in third and fourth grades. Not all were practicing Jews, but many were. I remember seeing friends of mine who were helping construct what looked like a shack at the back of their house. When I asked, the father told me it was to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles, or the Festival of Booths. He said it was to celebrate living in temporary shelters under the leadership of Moses as the people wandered from place to place in the desert. It was to remember, he told me, about God’s leadership and protection. It happened every year in September or October. I thought it looked like fun, and if it rained or snowed, which was entirely possible in Minneapolis, they could go inside. And they also went inside to use the indoor plumbing and to cook. Sometimes they slept outside, though, and they ate out there, too.

This was the upcoming Feast mentioned in verse 2, and a lot of people would be heading to Jerusalem, to the Temple, for part of the time.

At this point, His earthly brothers issued Him a challenge. And by the way, this is a good proof text that Jesus did have flesh and blood siblings, along with John 2:12 and Matt. 12:46-47. Matt. 15:55-56 mentions His sisters, as well.

His brothers were actually daring Him to go down to Jerusalem and do something spectacular there to demonstrate His power. There would be lots more people there, they said, and besides, wouldn’t a real Son of God want to make Himself known, instead of hiding up in Galilee?

There was little love lost between the Jews in Jerusalem and the relatively poor, obscure people of Galilee. The Jerusalem Jews felt that Galilee was so far removed from the action in Jerusalem that they didn’t, couldn’t, understand what was really going on.

Jesus’ brothers wanted to point out to Him that His most amazing miracles were done outside the purview of the Jewish religious authorities. If He were the real thing, wouldn’t He want to convince the hotshots?

I believe that this conversation was done in a sarcastic, challenging manner because, based on v. 5, they still did not believe in Him themselves. It wasn’t that they denied the miracles they witnessed; their stopping point was in accepting Him as the promised Messiah. He was getting way above Himself. It wasn’t until after His death and resurrection that His brothers became an integral part of those early Christians who spread the gospel all over Israel, Asia, and westward.

Why did it take so long for them to understand? Well, put yourself in their place. Would you have believed it if your eldest brother had claimed to be the Messiah? Come on, now, be honest. They were just ordinary folks like you and me. Jesus lived, ate, worked, slept in the same house they did. I’m sure they thought of Him as a goody-two-shoes, and maybe even tried to get Him in trouble now and then. He wouldn’t disobey Mary and Joseph. He wouldn’t lie, cheat, steal, or play nasty tricks on His siblings.

He wouldn’t even snatch an extra chocolate chip cookie when Mary had her back turned.

Still, there was something about Him that, I believe, commanded their grudging respect. It’s just really hard for sinners to live with pure goodness in their midst.