ATP Blog #55
When I was a high school teacher, I remember many instances where instructions were given, followed by students asking, ‘What am I supposed to do?’ This would happen multiple times … in a class! Much patience and grace were required. Have you ever experienced this? At least with children, many questions are expected, since that is how they learn. John’s gospel reports a lot of teaching by Jesus on His mission, the Kingdom of God, and His identity, the Son of God. In today’s passage, Jesus Christ is once again given opportunity to state His identity … and to demonstrate His patience.
The Question ‘Then they said to Him, “Who are You?” Jesus had just finished explaining about His departure, again insinuating (strongly) His relationship with God, the Father in Heaven. He said things like, ‘Where I go you cannot come.’ and ‘I am not of this world.’ Finally, Jesus stated clearly His main mission of dying for the sins of the world when He said, ‘If you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.’ So, the people present sought to clarify (once for all?), asking ‘Who are You?’
The Frequency Back in John 2, Jesus had just been introduced to ‘society’ as the Lamb of God, when Jesus chose to clean out the Temple, changing it back to a place of prayer instead of a gathering place of merchants. The Pharisees, who were choosing to reject Jesus’ identity, asked Him to prove this claimed identity and authority (2:18). In John 3, those who were concerned with the popularity of John the Baptizer, were now concerned about the growing popularity of the preacher from Nazareth, and John had to clarify the identity of this man, Jesus, who must increase (3:30) as he (John B) decreased. In John 5:1-23, Jesus healed a man at the Pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem. The Jews, concerned that this was accomplished on the Sabbath, questioned Jesus’ identity and authority once again (5:12). In John 5:31-47, Jesus explained the various witnesses that testified to who He is, and the religious leaders still chose to disbelieve (5:46-47). Chapter 6 describes the feeding of the 5000+, walking on the water, and the discourse regarding Jesus’ teaching about the Bread of Life. At this point, many disciples turned away to leave. John 7 describes the rejection of Christ by His natural brothers, along with the Jewish leaders (still / again). They asked again His identity … where He was from (7:27), and what He was to do (7:40-44). John 8, after forgiving the adulteress, Jesus was challenged regarding His identity again (8:13), being accused of lying.
The Answer ‘Just as I have been saying to you from the beginning.’ If this was a normal man, I would hear frustration in the tone of voice here, but it was Jesus … patiently answering their question again. His answer had not changed. His identity had not changed. It was not what they wanted, nor what they expected, but they had to choose to either believe or reject. Jesus could no longer be called a good teacher, or just a prophet. He had claimed to be equal with God, Immanuel (God with us), the Christ (Messiah and Saviour), sent to die for the sins of the world, then rise again on the third day. ‘I have many things to say, and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I heard from Him.’ Instead of blasting them out of frustration (I have many things to say), Jesus just pointed them to the testimony of God, and the fact that He was speaking only what God told Him to say. Jesus was also stating clearly that, like Superman, He would never lie.
The Patience We need to learn from the patience of Jesus. First, remember that we must not take attacks personally, as they are rejecting God, not you … as long as you are saying only what God tells you to say (requiring you to rely on the Holy Spirit). Second, some people take a long time to get it … Jesus’ identity. Be patient as they keep asking, and working through traditions, skewed teachings, opinions, and misinterpretations of Scripture. Just keep pointing them to God and His Word, and the Holy Spirit will do the rest of the work. They will either accept it (eventually), or they won’t. After all these interactions with the Jewish leaders (with more to come yet), only two individuals seemed to accept His message by His death, and a small handful more after His resurrection.