So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”
Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave[b] to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.”
They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham's children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. You are doing the works your father did.” They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”
The Jews answered him, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?” Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge. Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” The Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.’ Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?” 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.
The Pharisees’ view of the Messiah was too small. Their view of Salvation was too small. Their view of God was too small. They imagined a Messiah who would fit all of their neat requirements, and a Salvation that would be only for people who thought like them, and a God who fit in their little box. Faith was neat and tidy; discipleship involved small, ordered lifestyles; God was tame and non-threatening. It’s easy to see why they came in conflict with Jesus immediately.
I am guilty of perpetrating the same crime as Christians. I am guilty of shrinking God to fit into my own personal comfort zone. How often have I read God my definition of who He should be, rather than allowing Him to define Himself? I see this in me. I try to build walls around His Grace and erase His hard commands from my Bible. I try to declaw the Lion of Judah and turn Him into some sort of house-pet instead of accepting what is true – He is too big for my box – Holy enough to invoke terror; sovereign in ways I can’t understand; beyond time and space; beyond human definition; the only one worthy to hold the keys to Hades; the only one powerful enough to conquer death. And that God loves ME ... and YOU ... and personally created us in His image.
I may not be able to define Jesus, or to make Him fit in my little box, but when I step back in the morning and try to take it all in, I catch my breath and Worship Him, and resubmit to Him all over again. “Lord, I’m Yours. Lead me today, and help me to follow You.”