Monday July 3
I can do nothing on my own. I judge as God tells me. Therefore, my judgment is just, because I carry out the will of the one who sent me, not my own will.
What do you think of when you hear the word, “Judge?” If you live in America, you think of People’s Court with Judge Wopner, or for the last 15 years, Judge Milian. Or you think of the longest running judge of all, Judge Judy. This is the power television has on us.
I think I am reasonably knowledgeable about government, but when I tried to remember the 9 Supreme Court Justices by memory, I forgot two of them, Stephen Beyer and Elena Kagan. I wouldn’t know any of the nine Supreme Court Justices if I saw them on the street. But, not so with Judge Judy! I could pick her out anywhere!
So, why are tv courtroom series so popular? Because justice is swift and final. Done in 15 minutes. You don’t have trials that go on forever and lawyers and prosecutors trying one way or another to sway a jury with countless nuances, and then there are appeal and then civil lawsuits if the regular trial doesn’t go your way. It seems a breath of fresh air to just state your case and Judge Milian or Judge Judy decides, rams down the gavel, and bam! It’s over. Justice has one out again.
The root of the word for “judging” in the Bible is the same as the word “deciding.” Judging has to do with deciding. In our country, if judges are ruling properly, they make decisions based on prior court cases, along with the Constitution of the United States.
Well, Jesus is the judge of all people and he makes decisions based on a perfect precedent. God’s Word. “I judge as God tells me,” he says. Can’t get any closer to the source of pure justice with that.
Pray for each Supreme Court Justice by name today.
Tuesday July 4
If I were to testify on my own behalf, my testimony would not be valid.
“Because I said so.” This is most parents go-to line when they are speaking with their children from time to time. “Because I said so!” There is nothing wrong with using this phrase with our small children. Obedience is important for children to learn. We are the parents, they are children. With young children you don’t try to get at their level and try to reason with them. Using adult reasoning with a young child is like reasoning with your dog. You may think she understands, but she is just mimicking facial expressions she has learned to get her way. Actually, just like a dog!
But children grow and their brains grow and their thinking grows and using logic does become possible. You can still use “Because I said so,” with a teenager, but don’t expect that to be the last word!
Then there is Jesus. If Jesus says, “Because I said so,” then we agree. In fact good advice when it comes to Jesus is if you ever find yourself disagreeing with something Jesus said, go ahead and spend the rest of your time figuring out why you are wrong. That’s how right he is. !00% right, all the time.
So, it’s interesting what Jesus says here. “If I were to testify on my own behalf, my testimony would not be valid.”
Why does he say this? His testimony would always be valid. Well Jesus is honoring our humanity. He is placing himself into real human history and human thinking.
If you are questioning some issue of life with another person and he says, “Because I said so.” That’s not enough. You would need more evidence.
And in the first century Jewish context that Jesus and the guys arguing with him come out of, “Because I said so,” is not enough. In the Jewish courts of that day, there has to be two witnesses for something to be considered.
What happens when adults try to reason with children using abstract thinking when the children are not cognitively ready? Can you give examples of this happening today in our schools?
Wednesday July 5
But someone else is also testifying about me, and I assure you that everything he says about me is true. In fact, you sent investigators to listen to John the Baptist, and his testimony about me was true. Of course, I have no need of human witnesses, but I say these things so you might be saved. John was like a burning and shining lamp, and you were excited for a while about his message.
Here is another witness. But not just any witness, John the Baptist. John is well known enough to the Judaean religious leaders questioning Jesus. In fact, everyone in town knows John.
So John the Baptizer came and was baptizing people in the desert area. He told them to be baptized to show that they wanted to change their lives, and then their sins would be forgiven. All the people from Judea, including everyone from Jerusalem, came out to John.
Of course, these guys know John. And this is what John says about Jesus.
Then John said this for everyone to hear: “I also did not know who the Messiah was. But the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘You will see the Spirit come down and rest on a man. He is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen this happen. I saw the Spirit come down from heaven like a dove and rest on this man. So this is what I tell people: ‘He is the chosen one of God.”
Let’s be clear. These Judaean religious leaders are putting Jesus on trial. In fact, throughout the whole gospel, Jesus appears to be on trial. Well, OK, if he is on trial, then he just brought out a key witness. A star witness. Someone the accusers already have shown they respect. John the Baptist.
In fact, the accusers are excited about John the Baptist. They are thrilled by his message that the Messiah is coming! That is until they realize that if the Messiah is really here, if Jesus is the chosen one, then they don’t have much use him. The Judaean leaders thought the chosen one would do what they wanted, he would keep them in power, because they are God’s gatekeepers. They are the ones who judge. The ones who decide what is right and what is wrong according to their interpretation of God’s Word.
Now, God’s Word itself is here in the flesh, and they can’t take it. It wasn’t what is good according to God’s Word after all. It is about what is good for the Judaeans.
But, Jesus gives them a chance. You see, something quite remarkable is happening. It is not Jesus who is on trial. Actually those who don’t agree with Jesus are the ones on trial. And Jesus, the judge is going them a chance to be acquitted. Because Jesus is God, he doesn’t need any humans to tell him if he is right or wrong. But, because he wants what is good for the Judaeans, because he wants everyone to be declared, “Not guilty!” he gives them a chance.
“Of course, I have no need of human witnesses, but I say these things so you might be saved.”
He offers them the evidence. John the Baptist himself, whom they are excited about. But, apparently, this is not enough.
Who are people whose opinions you admire? Why?
Thursday July 6
But I have a greater witness than John—my teachings and my miracles. The Father gave me these works to accomplish, and they prove that he sent me.
“Corroborating evidence.” This is is evidence that supports a proposition already supported by initial evidence, therefore confirming the original proposition.
This is the evidence Jesus reveals next. The defendant is now the prosecutor! He gives corroborating evidence.
You don’t trust my testimony? What about my teachings and my miracles? How do you explain them away.
First his teachings. It is already a known fact that those who are questioning the legitimacy of Jesus already know his teaching is unlike any other they have heard.
Jesus went to Capernaum, a city in Galilee. On the Sabbath day he taught the people.They were amazed at his teaching because he spoke with authority.
He spoke with authority. What does this mean? The Jewish teachers would interpret the Bible by quoting other famous rabbis who had interpreted the Bible before them. Like Supreme Court justices quoting the Constitution. But, Jesus doesn’t have to quote any precedent. His word is precedent. Whatever he says is the truth. He is the only one who can make this claim.
It’s like any Bible teacher or preacher. To be truthful, we can’t say something is right or good because we say it is. It has to be right or good because the Bible says it is. “For the Bible tells me so,” in other words.
There are many Bible teachers and church leaders today who are not using the Bible to make their case about issues of the day. They are using popular culture or the current political climate to make their case, even if the overall message of the Bible refutes what they are saying. From supporting slavery in the past to saying you can just decide if you are a man or woman by declaring you are. in the present, teachers and church leaders stand before the Word of God. What’s popular, or cool, what appears inclusive and compassionate, none of these matter to an exclusive God who speaks through his Word. Jesus is the Word and he can still say, “Because I said so.” But, because he is gracious, Jesus does honor our choice in these matters. He gives us evidence.
Second, his evidence is the miraculous. In the Gospel of John we are studying, up to this point Jesus has turned water into wine, he has healed the son of a government official at a distance, just saying he is healed, and he has told the disabled man at the Pool of Bethesda to “Get up and walk!” You don’t show this power and authority unless you are from God himself.
The miracles of Jesus prove God sent him. And as we will soon see, you don’t rise from the dead, never to die again. The greatest miracle of all. But I am getting ahead of myself…
To know the teachings of Jesus, you have to read the Bible.
Friday July 7
And the Father who sent me has testified about me himself. You have never heard his voice or seen him face to face, and you do not have his message in your hearts, because you do not believe me—the one he sent to you.
Ultimately, Jesus is the judge and jury. All of us are on trial, in a way. The trial has to do with do we trust Jesus is who he says he is? Do we trust Jesus is the Messiah come into our world to save all people? Do we trust Jesus is God?
Yes or no. Jesus is clear. In the past, when God would appear to some people, like Abraham or Moses, and they would get to hear his voice or see him as he appears in clouds or fire and such, this is a special thing. But, now Jesus is saying, everyone can see God and hear God’s voice. Why? Because everyone can hear and see Jesus.
For the Judaean leaders this is literally true. Jesus is standing right in front of them. They see him with their own eyes and hear him with their own ears. But, they don’t experience him with their most sensitive sense of all. In their hearts. In the core of who they are. In the Bible when it speaks of our hearts, this is the decisions we make followed by the actions we take. If you trust in Jesus, your actions will follow.
The court is in session. If you trust in Jesus, you are declared innocent because the judge becomes the defendant. As Paul says in Colossians chapter three,
For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.
Yes, we don’t have to prove anything. We have died to the old ways of thinking. It is not who has the political power, whoever controls the wealth, whoever has the university degree, whoever is the most popular celebrity, this is not wisdom. And certainly, this will not save us. There is only one who can save. And he has saved us already as we trust in him. We stand before the court of God and when he looks at us, he sees Jesus.
“Not guilty!” are the most beautiful words we can hear. But, not from Judge Judy. From Judge Jesus.
Why do people think celebrities are wise in matters other than their own field?