Monday, June 15, 2009

Monday Morning Devotions

Jn 7: 1-9 "After these things Jesus walked in Galilee; for he did not want to walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill Him. Now the Jews' Feast of Tabernacles was at hand. His brothers therefore said to Him, 'Depart from here and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may see the works that you are doing. For no one does anything in secret while he himself seeks to be known openly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.' For even His brothers did not believe in Him. Then Jesus said to them, 'My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready. The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil. You go up to this feast, for my time has not fully come.' When he had said these things to them, He remained in Galilee." (NKJV)

At first glance, this may seem to be an odd passage to choose for a devotional piece. Yet reading this passage one day, the truth that God can transform anyone was brought home to me again. And what does this passage have to do with God transforming lives?

This passage states that Jesus avoided Judea because of threats against His life. Yet His own brothers, who did not believe in Him, encouraged Him not only to travel there, but to show Himself openly. Surely they were not ignorant about threats to their brother's safety in Judea. They had to know what would happen if He did as they suggested. If this was indeed the case, then why did they want to place their own brother in jeopardy?

It would not have been easy being the brother of Jesus. After all, Jesus did indeed testify against the world, that its deeds were evil. He labeled the religious establishment "a brood of vipers." He chased the money changers out of the Temple. He healed on the Sabbath. He claimed the Father and He were one. For these things, the religious leaders sought to kill Him. The Pharisees in Jerusalem sent out agents of inquiry to question Jesus Himself. Surely they must have investigated His family as well. This must have put pressure on His brothers. After all, being a relative of one labeled a threat to the establishment could make one feel threatened. Fear can cause relatives to turn on each other. If the brothers of Jesus could permanently remove Him from the scene, their lives would have not only returned to normal, but they could have gained the favor of the religious leaders. So they tried to convince Jesus to expose Himself to mortal danger.

This is speculation to be sure. Yet I believe that even though the text does not explicitly declare the brothers' intentions were murderous, nevertheless, their murderous intentions are strongly implied. Just think of it. Christ's brothers were closer to Him in terms of blood than Judas, yet they were as ready to deliver Jesus to His enemies as Judas was.

Yet also think on this. The very same brothers who wanted Jesus dead were with their mother Mary and the Disciples praying in the Upper Room, praying with one accord after their brother's Ascension. (Acts 1:14) And at least two of those brothers, James and Jude, not only became disciples of Jesus, but shepherds of the Church flock, writing pastoral advice that would one day become part of God's Word. James, who once felt the pressure from being the brother of Jesus, would counsel others on how to endure trials and temptations as a follower of Jesus. And Jude, in his magnificent benediction, could write of Christ's ability to present His followers faultless before the Father. After all, his own brother lived in his own heart through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. This indwelling transformed Jude from a fearful brother into a faithful follower. And Christ, if He lives in you through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, can transform you as He did His own brothers. That is, if you exercise your faith to let Him transform you.

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