16 For this reason the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath. 17 But He answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.” 18 For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.
I feel like this passage sums up the attitude of the world against Christ. This includes some “Christians” who focus more on their religious rules and views more than the reason they have those rules in the first place. We just read yesterday about how adherence to manmade rules blinded the Jews from the miracle. Here too their own pride and piety is deafening them to what Jesus is telling them. We read before how He claimed to be the Messiah and then he got booted out of the temple because of it. Isn’t it ironic that they waited for so long (700 years or so) for the Messiah to arrive and then once He does, they reject Him?
Today we reject God just the same. We build our belief systems and then when someone tells us that we are wrong, we defend it, as if our belief system is God itself…as if God needs defending anyway. We live our lives yearning to fill what I call the “God shaped hole” in our lives and when He presents Himself to us, either in our lonesome or through others, we push Him away. I think that sometimes this is because He doesn’t turn out to be the God we wanted Him to be. We want God to fit into our own set of rules, so we can prove to ourselves and everyone else that we are right and they are wrong.
We will see as we read through the Gospels that the Jews thought that the Messiah was going to rise up as a king, a king to rule over Israel. Technically, He was, just not in the form they wanted Him to be. They wanted Him to be some sort of government official. Funny how we in America do the same thing: looking for a savior in the political arena, then we get upset when we aren’t saved. We’re looking in the wrong place! We get caught up in the cycle of insanity, looking in the same places for something different. When something (or someone) different arrives on the scene, we chastise them for being different! This is exactly what is happening to Jesus here. He is breaking their precious rules, it rubs them the wrong way, so they just want to be rid of Him. He challenges them to break outside of their belief systems. He gets in their face about how convoluted their religion has become.
Do your own beliefs inhibit the very relationship with God you claim to have? Too often we forget that grace cannot be earned, only given and received, yet we cling to our own righteousness and wind up replacing the role of God in our lives with ourselves. Maybe you look at everyone else’s beliefs and action and use that as an excuse not to seek out God. Having a relationship with God is not about rules and regulations. It’s not about doing right or wrong. It’s not even about discussing the sinful things we do and stopping them before we can even think about talking to God. That all turns our focus away from Him and distracts us from the single truth: He loves us more than we can ever imagine and He wants to have a relationship with you.
What are you letting get in the way?