back to stones | John 8.54-59
Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple. John 8.54-59 | ESV
Jesus, not flinching in the least, told them, “If I’m fashioning my own persona, it’s a PR campaign that will fall flat. There’s nothing to it! But God is my great Promoter – the One of whom you shout the claim, ‘He’s our God!’ The truth is, you don’t have a clue who he is. But I know him. And if I said that I didn’t know him to be more acceptable to all of you, then I’d be just as big a liar as you are. Oh, but I do know him – and I carefully carry out the meaning and import of what he says. You say Abraham is your father, right? Guess what? Abraham was doing cartwheels of joy at the prospect of seeing me, seeing my day come. And see it he did. And then he did his own little happy dance.”
The opposition couldn’t believe the nerve of this guy. They scoffed at him, “You’re not even fifty years old yet, and you’ve seen father Abraham. Right!”
Finishing the conversation he started, Jesus put it out there plain: “I’ll say this twice and mean it: Before Abraham ever even existed, I AM, I was, I will be.”
That tore it. They got his meaning. Exactly. They picked up stones to stone him to death for such arrogant irreverence. But Jesus slipped right through their fingers – they looked up after picking up a rock to hurl at him, and he was gone, out of the temple and on his way. MAV (Mike’s Amplified Version)
Back to stones.
Back to the image from yesterday’s reflection – the image of wordy, religious white blood cells encountering the catalyst of life itself right there in their midst, and then attacking it as if it were a foul infection.
Sometimes we know too much Bible for our own good and that knowledge so puffs us up we’re not good for anything life-giving but only for stone-throwing.
Why is it that so often those with the most knowledge have their faces frozen with age into the most bitter scowls?
So revealing it is, this face we grow over a lifetime.
Religion can only pile on facelift after freakish plastic facelift;
Christ would transform our face by touching our heart.
What a revealing contrast between the scowling faces spewing sneers like “Samaritan!” “Demon-possessed!” “Illegitimate!” (though “bastard” would be the strong word they would have at least been thinking), and the contagious joy overflowing from Abraham’s face.
It’s the contrast between the prodigal love of the prodigal son’s father and the sulking, sneering face and tone of the resentful righteous older brother who won’t go into the party.
What a contrast between hands once again grasping at stones in righteous rage and the hands of Father Abraham doing cartwheels in holy celebration.
Back to stones.
Back to the question hanging in the air still right at the center of all this temple controversy:
Who’s your Father?
Our face – and what we are grasping in our hands – tells the tale.
Do some mirror work – perhaps using others’ eyes as the mirror. What does your face reveal about your heart – and about who your Father truly is? Ask someone to tell you, and to tell you the truth. Listen, and invite God to do whatever heart work is needed.
Abba God, reflect back to me today what you see in my face as I earnestly look into yours. Do the deeper heart work in me that needs doing. Clear out my clogged arteries of cynicism and suspicion and so reinvigorate me that I simply can’t help but join Father Abraham in his cartwheels of joy before you, before Life. Through Christ.