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Posts Tagged ‘John 1:11-12’

Jo 23Recently, I overheard the following conversation:

‘Would you like some coffee?’

‘I usually don’t drink coffee. I’ve never liked it much, but I’m trying to get used to it.’

‘Um … why would you want to make yourself like coffee?’

‘Well … well, I want to be accepted!’

I tried to hide my smile because I would expect this type of behaviour amongst children, not grown adults, which these two definitely were! Our young grandson, for example, refuses to wear a particular beanie in his school colours anywhere—especially to school! And our youngest granddaughter, at four years of age, has very definite tastes in clothes and other attire—which usually means pink things or things that have pink in them. Recently too, she cried, covered her ears and ran and hid, after she managed to lose one of her pink earrings. When I tried to comfort her, she sobbed, ‘I can’t let anyone see me with only one earring in!’

Being accepted matters when you are four or six—and it matters even more for our two older granddaughters who are fifteen and twelve. Yet it doesn’t stop there, does it? At times, and in certain situations in particular, we all desire to be accepted by those around us. None of us wants to feel rejected, pushed to the fringes, not interesting enough or attractive enough or good enough to fit the bill. So we may choose to act differently or say what we think those around us want to hear—and close our mouths on the words we truly want to speak out but are afraid to, for fear of rejection.

Recently, I came across a situation just like this in John’s Gospel. In Chapter 9, Jesus heals a man born blind and, soon after, his parents are summoned to appear before the Jewish leaders to verify he was indeed blind and to explain how he can now see (18-23). They know that, if they say Jesus healed their son, they will be thrown out of the synagogue, so they feign ignorance. They do not want to risk acknowledging Jesus as the Christ, the coming Messiah, so leave their son to speak for himself. In that culture at that time, it would have been a fearsome thing indeed to have been thrown out of the synagogue, to be outcasts, unaccepted in their own community, so I empathise with them.

But I am aware I can also behave like them at times. I may choose to stay quiet when I know I should stand up for the things of God. Or I may decide to water down what I plan to say somewhere, in order to be more accepted. Yet in my heart, I know my worth does not come from pleasing others. Instead, it comes from God, who tells me deep down who I am, who knows everything about me, yet loves and accepts me because I belong to Jesus and believe he died for me.

He (Jesus) came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God … John 1:11-12

Now that would have to be best acceptance of all, don’t you think?

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Jo 17There I was, happily reading John’s Gospel when I noticed I had previously put two exclamation marks beside a particular verse. Then I discovered two more in another spot—and I realised why. What the Jewish leaders were saying and how they were responding to Jesus just seemed so crazy-ridiculous to me!

I read how the Jewish leaders pester Jesus to tell them plainly if he is the Christ. Jesus points out he already has—and how his many miracles back up his claim (10:25-26). They try to stone him, but when Jesus asks which of the many great miracles from God the Father has upset them so much, they dismiss them, as if they are unimportant:

We are not stoning you for any of these,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” (10:33)

I then read how Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead (11:1-44). While many Jews put their faith in him as a result, some head off to the Pharisees, who call a meeting to discuss the matter:

What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many miraculous signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him …” (11:47-48)

Their conclusion, in collaboration with the chief priests, strikes me as sad but kind of funny too:

So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their faith in him. (12:10-11)

Doesn’t it seem weird to you that the best idea the Jews can come up with is to kill Lazarus? If Jesus had brought him back to life once, could he not do it again?

Finally, I read the saddest verse of all:

Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. (12:37)

As I reflected on all this, I remembered a time when I was a student at Queensland University and a keen member of the main Christian group there. One year, we held a mission on campus and tried to strike up conversations about Jesus with passers-by. During one such discussion, some sceptical philosophy students clinched their arguments with us with the following very definite statement:

‘If Jesus were to appear here right now and do some miracle, then we’d believe in him, for sure.’

An older minister helping us then chimed in.

‘Would you really? … Would you really?’

At that point, they left, uncertainty written all over their faces.

I sat for a moment, remembering and reflecting. If God had not opened my eyes to see who Jesus truly is and changed my life forever, I could well have had the same response as these students—and the Jewish leaders. I too could be lost in that sea of scepticism and unbelief. I still scratch my head at God’s absolutely amazing grace and love for me—but I also receive it with a truly grateful heart and with determination to treasure this gift forever.

He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God … John 1:11-12

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We currently have a dilemma in our family – and it’s all about whether to open a certain envelope or not. You see, our younger daughter and her husband are expecting their first child in January, so our daughter recently had an ultrasound. As a result, she was asked whether she would like to know the baby’s sex – but she couldn’t decide. If she found out now, she reasoned, she might be disappointed. But if she found out at the moment of birth, she would no doubt be very happy whatever it was! So the baby’s sex was written on a small card and the card placed in an envelope and given to her husband. That way, he could look at it if he wanted to – and so could our daughter, if she changed her mind.

Well, it seems our son-in-law has had a peek, but so far managed to keep it to himself. Our daughter’s boss has also, because she wanted to know what clothes to buy the baby. The envelope was then waved in front of me – I could even see the little card inside it as my daughter held it up to the light. Perhaps it wouldn’t matter if I found out – I would just have to be vigilant and not blurt it out by accident. After all, it would mean I could knit something pink or blue instead of white. In the end, however, I decided against it.

But this whole experience has caused me to reflect on other ‘envelopes’ I’m glad I have opened in my life – my husband’s request to marry him, studying at theological college, the call to serve on a church ministry team, the challenge to write my first novel and, underlying all this, the invitation to believe in Jesus Christ and follow him. What if I had ignored that particular invitation I heard one evening when I was fifteen? What if I had thought it wasn’t for me? What if I had decided it wasn’t important enough to open – or that I could leave it a bit longer?

But would God have offered me a second invitation at another time? I don’t know. And I’m so glad I didn’t decide to wait and find out, because for forty-eight years now I have enjoyed the wonderful presence of God in my life, the wonderful privilege of belonging to God’s family and the wonderful hope that I will be able to spend eternity in heaven.

Yet every day, many people turn down this invitation. Many don’t even bother to open the envelope. They might hold it up to the light for a second, see its shape and wonder about it, but then discard it. And others immediately decide it’s just rubbish and throw it in the bin.

It’s so vital to open this particular ‘envelope’, to see the reconciliation God offers in love to each one of us. In fact, it’s a matter of life and death, of being welcomed into God’s family or not.

He [Jesus] came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:11-12)

I’m so glad I accepted God’s invitation. How about you?

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