Friday, April 17, 2009

Finding Jesus Christ: "No love of God in your hearts"

Click here for an explanation about this series: "Finding Jesus Christ."

It may have been awhile since you've seen the Gospel of John movie that I recommended you watch for this series. To refresh your memory, watch the first three minutes of this clip (John 5:25-47).

Once again we note Jesus' claim to be the Son of God who was sent by his Father so that we might believe in him. It is the never ending theme of Jesus' teaching. What kind of a person would make such claims, say such things? There are really only two options: he is either telling the truth, or he is more completely out of line than anyone in the history of the world.

Did Jesus really speak to the crowds as unapologetically as this actor (Henry Ian Cusick--who also stars in Lost) portrays? We know that Jesus angered the religious leaders enough to eventually get himself killed, so yes, I'd say this is probably an accurate portrayal of how things went down whenever Jesus got on a roll. People were shocked and offended. Plots against his life quietly brewed. All in a day's work when you walk the streets of first century Jerusalem claiming God is your Father who sent you with a message from heaven.

If someone claimed to come from heaven, I suppose we shouldn't expect anything less. In this speech we cut in right as Jesus is talking about the judgment he will execute at the end of the world. All of us will be dead by then, but on that day he says we will all hear his voice, get up bodily out of our graves, and wait to hear his pronouncement on our eternal fate. I hope you took that in, because then you would have noticed two things. On one hand, it is possibly the most outrageous statement a human being has ever made in the history of outrageous statements. On the other hand, Jesus states it with the kind of vividly-detailed description that someone only gives when they fully expect to say "I told you so" when it actually happens.

He knows the crowd doubts his words, but he plows ahead anyhow. The three witnesses he brings forth to verify his claims are witnesses that the Jewish crowd itself embraces: John the Baptist, Jesus' own miracles, and the (Old Testament) Scriptures. He's basically saying, "Even you guys revere the authority of these witnesses, so why won't you listen to their testimony about who I am?" The logical implication of their own beliefs is to believe in him, so why won't they believe in him? As far as arguments go, this is classic Jesus.

He played the lawyer, making his case, and he concludes by switching to the judge, condemning them for having no love of God in their hearts. "You have not heard his voice or seen his face," Jesus says, referring to his own intimacy with the Father. He implies that he is bringing God's own message when he pronounces them to be spiritually blind, self-serving hypocrites who care more about themselves than the God they claim to worship.

Again, it's about what we would expect from someone claiming to bring a message from heaven--if we were to give serious thought to what God might say to us if he were to send his Son to speak on his behalf. It would be hard to imagine a holy God, who sees the secret thoughts, motives and devices of every human heart, sending down a message telling us that we're awesome folks and he can't wait to meet us--wouldn't it?