01 March 2014

STICKS AND STONES


John 8:48-59

We have all heard the expression “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”. But the reality is that words can hurt. The Bible says, "Reckless words pierce like a sword." Our words can cut like a knife and they can really hurt others. We all know that God hears every word we say and he knows every thought we have in our mind. This is why it’s very important for us to be careful about the things we think and say. We have seen this throughout the entire conversation that Jesus has been having with men who love to throw stones. Throughout history men of God have defended the truth of the scriptures, facing evil head on with the truth and exposing the evil that is in men’s hearts for centuries. Moses, who demanded that Pharaoh let his people go (Exo 5:1), Elijah, who challenged the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:19-40), John the Baptist, who confronted the corruption among the religious leaders. (Matt 7:51-53), Stephen, who stood and proclaimed the truth to the Sandhedrin and paid for it with his life. (Acts 7:51-53), Peter and John, who rebuked the sorcerer Simon. (Acts 8:9-24), Paul and Barnabas, who condemned the false prophet Bar-Jesus (Acts 13:9-11).

We continue to observe the conversation that Jesus the eternal Son has with the: Sceptics, disbelievers, sons of disobedience, and haters of God who love darkness rather than light. Men who are evil and in bondage to their father the devil, according to Jesus. What made these men so angry? What caused them to continue in this discussion with Jesus? Maybe it had something to do with what Jesus has been saying all along! I am the Great I’AM.  He expressed this truth when He said “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad." (v56). What does He mean Abraham rejoiced to see my day and he saw and was glad? It wasn’t that Abraham had some private vision, but it was God who gave him the “spiritual awareness” to see these future events. For example: The miraculous birth of his own son Isaac, born by his barren wife of old age. [Heb 11:11]. Abraham would have certainly seen the grace of Calvary when he went to offer his son to God. [Heb 11:17-19]. He would have witnessed the priestly ministry of Melchizedek who was Christ type of our Heavenly Lord. [Gen 14:17-24]. Though the marriage promises of his son Isaac, Abraham would be able to see a picture of the blessed marriage found in the Lamb of God. [Gen 24]

We need to remember the Lord didn’t say “Abraham saw Me”, but that “Abraham saw my DAY”. A future day [a time] of deliverance from the bondage of sin and death. A future day that through Abraham all nations would be blessed because the Messiah would be from the seed of his blood line. [Gen 17]. Though this Abraham rejoiced and walked by faith in the covenant promises that our Lord declared to him. This was an object that filled the heart of Abraham with joy; and, that he earnestly desired to see it. This is the same joy Jesus spoke of in Matt 5:12 “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” These men didn’t have the same sentiment that their founding father had when Jesus said “Abraham rejoiced to see My day” (v56). They only cared about the fight of control…these were power hungry men who didn’t know the truth! Why? Their pride was being attacked according to them by Jesus when He said “you are of your father the devil…” (v44). 

Look at how they responded! (v48) Not to be out done by this Jesus character; they say “He must be a Samaritan and demon-possessed.” This is a radical and religious belittling or dishonoring.This was about the meanest comment that was readily available to them. "Samaritan" especially to a Jew. Remember back in John 4:9 “Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, "How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?" For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.”
Why? According to the Jews, Samaritan people were considered heretics and divisive, unclean people [half breeds]. These wicked men resorted to personal abuse and attacks. To lose ones temper, and call names, is a common sign of a defeated cause. They were attacking the very character of Jesus which means they were attacking God. We see this all the time in our homes, the work place, social events and even in the news. Listen to the conversations in your home, workplace, the school playground, even in the church. The world does this on a daily basis without even realizing the damage they are doing ; especially when you bring Jesus into the conversation…..listen to the comments by the media, the debates when the name of Jesus is mentioned!

It brings about: bitterness, hatred [and I mean murderous hatred] it brings out the worst in a person and it also reveals the genuineness of their heart. As the word of God says “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. In Mat 12:35-37 we hear about Jesus addressing their accusations of being demon possessed. “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." But be of good cheer Christian! This shouldn’t surprise us or discourage us to continue the fight for the glory of His Son. Again! Not that we should go looking for it, but that we should be ready to face it as it comes our way!

As John Calvin said “The true Christian in the present day must never be surprised to find that he has constant trials to endure from this quarter. Human nature never changes. So long as he serves the world, and walks in the broad way, little perhaps will be said against him. Once let him take up the cross and follow Christ, and there is no lie too monstrous, and no story too absurd, for some to tell against him, and for others to believe. But let him take comfort in the thought that he is only drinking the cup which his blessed Master drank before him. The lies of his enemies do him no injury in heaven, whatever they may on earth. Let him bear them patiently, and not fret, or lose his temper. When Christ was reviled, "He reviled not again." Let the Christian do likewise.”

Why? We are under the sovereign care of the eternal Son of God that’s why! Abraham could rejoice as he looked to a day when sin would be no more on the earth. Look what Jesus says to remind us as He answers the ignorance of man. (v58). What is Jesus saying? I’AM the pre-existent, self-sustaining one who created all things for My glory.”Before Abraham was even conceived, born……I was the Great I’AM. This I’AM statement is the name in which God revealed Himself to the Jews when He sent Moses to deliver His people. In Exo 3:13-15 we read “Then Moses said to God, "Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they say to me, 'What is His name?' what shall I say to them?" And God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." And He said, "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.' " Moreover God said to Moses, "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: 'The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.' The words expressed are absolute, and therefore unchanging. It also signifies his eternity and immutability, and his constancy and faithfulness in fulfilling His promises, for it includes all time, past, present, and to come; and the sense is, not only I am what I am at present, but I am what I have been, and I am what I shall be, and shall be what I am. So the question for us church is how should we respond to when faced with hostile and hurtful words? It’s simple: What did Jesus do? He spoke the truth in love to a people who desperately needed a saving.

NEVER RESPOND WITH ANGER OR INSULTS WITH THE PURPOSE THE INTENT TO HURT.

Romans 12:17-19 “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY," says the Lord.” Solomon wrote “A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, But the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.” Prov 15:1-2. Jesus said “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.” Luke 6:27-28

BECOME AN INSTRUMENT OF GOD’S GRACE.

Eph 4:29 “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.”


ALWAYS PRAY FOR GOD’S GUIDANCE AND SUBMIT TO THE HOLY SPIRIT TO COUNSEL YOU’RE EVERY ACTION.

John 16:13 “when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth;…”

MAINTAIN AND REMEMBER YOUR IDENTITY AS CHILDREN OF CHRIST.

Col 3:1-3 “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

Remember!  'Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me', is not true!” In-fact it's quite the opposite. Bones can heal a whole lot faster than words spoken over us. Observe the eternal Son of God and how He responded to His creation, to the ones who are created in His image. Speaking the truth in love with the purpose of drawing people to the gospel that saves. Respond as Jesus without excuses! I say this because as J.C Ryle said “nicknames, insults, labels, and violent language, are favourite weapons with the devil. Let me close with this story of an official of a Mission Board, who knew that it takes more than desire to make a missionary, was appointed to examine a candidate. He told the young man to come to his house at 6 in the morning. The young man went at 6 in the morning to be examined, and the examiner kept him sitting in the room until ten. Then he went down to him and said abruptly, “Can you spell? Can you spell God?” “Yes, sir,” came the answer calmly. “Can you write your name? Do you know what your name is?” “Yes, sir,” again he replied. He put him through a series of questions of that kind, and then went to the Missionary Board and said, “He will do. I tried his patience for four hours, and he did not break down: I then insulted him, and he did not lose his temper. He will do.” That is the way to prove Christianity. If a man answers all abuses with patience, courage, a gentleness that cannot be violated, depend upon it, Christ’s love has conquered his heart, and the Christianity that has made him what he is vindicated by the very quality of his character. Such a Christian causes men to say, “Well, after all, you’ve got to say something for a religion that produces a man like that.” So let’s follow our Lord Jesus Christ……the one who created us for His glory and our good.
  • The one who secures us in His sovereign grace.
  • The one who we’re to lean upon when faced with adversity and conflict.
  • The one who displays for us how we are to live for Him.
  • The one who we are emulate to a world trapped in bondage.

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