Weekly Devotional - August 2, 2017

“If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’” (John 15:24-25)

Scripture Reading – I Peter 2:4-12

Jesus performed many miracles. In the Gospel of John, we read that He turned water into wine, healed a man who was lame for 38 years, calmed the sea, fed thousands of people with five loaves of bread and two fish, healed a man born blind, and raised Lazarus from the dead. Jesus did things that no other human could do. These miracles testified that Jesus is Lord, but instead of accepting these signs revealing who Jesus is, the Jews rejected them. The average Jew was attracted to these miracles, because they hoped to gain personally from them. They recognized that Jesus had the power over illness and even death, so they brought their sick to Jesus and He healed them. Crowds were attracted to Jesus and followed Him wherever He went. On one occasion the crowds needed food, so Jesus fed them with bread that came down from heaven. The Jews last ate bread from heaven when Moses was leading the people in the wilderness. This miracle fascinated the crowds so they immediately wanted to make Jesus their king (John 6:14-15), but Jesus rejected their desire because He came to do the work of the Father.

The leaders came to Jesus asking for a sign. They had rejected all the previous signs that Jesus was the Son of God, so Jesus knew that no matter what He did, the sign would also be ignored. He told them, “No sign will be given… except the sign of the prophet Jonah” (Matt. 12:39). Jesus would prove His authority by going into the stomach of the earth for three days and then rise again. Sadly, even with this sign, they still rejected Him. The Centurion, who oversaw the Crucifixion of Christ, was: “filled with awe and said, ‘Truly this was the Son of God!’” (Matt 27:54). Yet, the Jewish leaders rejected this sign and instead covered up the Resurrection by bribing the guards to lie about what happened (Matt. 28:12-13).

The religious and political leaders also rejected the signs that Jesus gave. They held their religious customs as more important than God’s will. That’s why, when Jesus healed on the Sabbath, they conspired to kill Him (Matt. 12:14). In spite of all the signs that Jesus gave them, these leaders hardened their hearts instead of humbling themselves before God. The signs that demonstrated the authority of Jesus became a stumbling block to faith in Jesus. In order for them to reject these obvious signs, they needed to come up with an alternative explanation for these miracles. Finally, they accused Jesus of performing these signs by the power of the prince of demons (Matt. 12:24). No matter what the sign, the religious and political leaders chose to deny them even though they always pointed to the Son of God.

The reason they rejected Christ is given in Psalm 69:4: “They hated Christ without cause.” This was a fulfillment of the prophecy concerning Christ’s death. The world has rejected Christ, because they have rejected the Father, but God’s plans were not derailed. The Father knew of the Jews’ rejection of the Son and He used this rejection to bring salvation to others. Even today, the world rejects God, and many are kept from the truth by leaders who hate the Father and the Son. Others hate Christ because He doesn’t perform magic for them every time they need something. In spite of this, God’s plan is still moving forward. The death of Christ reminds us that God is still in control. No matter how much hatred and persecution is aimed at us, Christ’s kingdom will continue to advance, and His servants will testify to the truth that Jesus is Lord. How are you doing the greater works in spite of people’s rejection of God?

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