Listening or Hearing? 5th Week of Lent- Tuesday- John 8: 21-30
The frustration is pouring out and this time it’s not the Jews. Yup! It’s Jesus. His exact words are, “why do I speak to you at all?” (I kid you not, those are His exact words). Maybe its not a statement of frustration as much as it is of judgement, and if so, what’s got Him all riled up?
Jesus is in the treasury of the temple and has declared Himself to be ‘the light of the world’ to the Jews who were quite evidently, spiritually blind. This blindness is manifested in their line of questioning, “where is your Father?” This will prompt Jesus to clearly indicate that He is the Son of the Heavenly Father and that ‘He is from above and they are from below.’
Did they get the point? Absolutely not! So they carry on with their mindless three and four word questions; ‘Who are you’?, ‘Where is your Father?’ ‘Is he going to kill himself?’ In response to these questions Jesus makes some extraordinarily explosive statements. In verse 23 He repeats those controversial ‘I am statements’, which end with judgement; if they don’t believe that He is ‘I am’ then they will die in their sin of disbelief. Jesus simply declared Himself to be God.
Seriously you wonder, why did they not stone Him? That is answered in verse 20, ‘his hour had not yet come.’ So we now have the context of this pericope; let’s look at the ‘take away’ from the text. In the gospel of John, the sin of the Jews is their unbelief. He says this clearly in 16:9, “About sin, because they do not believe in me.”
Belief is the matter of the heart and here in lays the problem. The Jews had long closed their hearts to the words of Jesus and so they ended up hearing and not listening. What the difference? Have you ever had a loved one say to you, “you’re not listening to me”; only to find you repeating their words in a triumphant, “you were wrong, look I repeated your words.” Yet the person making the accusation is right, while you are ‘technically’ right but obviously wrong.
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