Wednesday in the Fifteenth Week of Ordinary Time

John 8:39-47

You Either Get It or You Don’t

I said once before that if you are not already a believer, Jesus sounds at least as arrogant as any man ever was, at worst, stark-raving mad.  In my flesh (my sinful nature), I can understand the frustration of the crowd.  To their minds, this man is saying that the reason why they don’t understand him is because they are of the devil.  They don’t understand him because they cannot bear to hear his words, which is the same as saying that they do not understand him because they cannot, which is, quite frankly, insulting.  Moreover, this man says that he was sent by God, and insists that this God, whom he identifies as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – which is the very same God claimed by the people to whom he speaks – is his Father in some obviously exclusive way.  And Jesus caps it off by saying that whoever is of God hears the words of God – by which he plainly means his words.

To put it bluntly, they don’t understand because they can’t understand, and they can’t understand because they don’t believe that Jesus is who he says he is, and they don’t believe that Jesus is who he says he is because they can’t believe it.  It’s a vicious circle but what I am saying is that they are both unable and unwilling; they have neither the power nor the desire to believe Jesus is who he is.  They are caught in the snare of the devil (whom Jesus calls their father), their minds are darkened and their wills are warped.  Moreover, they are quite satisfied in their blindness; indeed, they think they see and that Jesus is blind, that they are of God and Jesus is of the devil (“Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?”).

What we see on display in this confrontation between Jesus and unbelievers is exactly what Paul describes in Romans 1:18-32, only here the people are Jews rather than gentiles, but the cause and result are the same.  The cause is unbelief and the result is darkness of mind, hardness of heart, and, if a Jew, legalism, and if a gentile, paganism and immorality.

Which leads us to three conclusions: First, we must preach the gospel when opportunity affords.  We don’t know whose heart the Holy Spirit might be working on and we can’t make judgments beforehand; we must share the good news.  Second, we must be a humble people.  We only understand because the Holy Spirit both opened our minds and bent our wills; that is, he gave us both the will and ability to say, “Yes.”  Third, while others are ensnared by the devil, may we rejoice at being ensnared by God, growing in grace, ever more willing, ever more able, having been freed, indeed (8:36).

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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