This is Day Nine of Christ Church Manchester’s lent devotionals, where we are breaking down the book of John. Written by Andrew Dowdeswell.
John 5: 30 – 47
I came to Manchester to study Physics with Philosophy. I was a tad naive, young but a little cheeky, cocky, a tad arrogant and in need of some humiliating mistakes. Thankfully, I made plenty.
I have learnt many lessons, most of them hard ones, since venturing out of the comforts of suburban Sheffield. I can now live off more than just pasta and a variety of sauces. I now value the utility of a dining room table, having hobbled through second year with a rather versatile ironing board. I now know it is not acceptable to rock up to church halfway through the preach, heavily hungover, with shorts on and odd socks.
While many who know me well may protest otherwise, I have matured. A lot. And thank God I did.
The biggest change that I have seen in my life is the value that I place on my own standing in society, with my friends and in my church. The lesson of identity, recognising that my own recognition comes from God, and not people, was a tough one to learn, but a very important one.
It is a lesson that I am still learning on a daily basis. Just today, when hauling four bags full of shopping from Aldi home on the bus, I was worried what a bunch of school kids were thinking of me as I took an untimely and unwanted tumble, clasping onto a nearby pole, preventing face from meeting floor at the last second.
It is also a lesson that the Jewish leaders we see in today’s passage have not yet learned.
After Jesus heals a man on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders come to Him, challenging His authority to ‘work’ on the Sabbath. Jesus, in his own, almighty way, answers their questions in a wonderfully confusing manner. However, during his answering of their protestations, He asks them a poignant and acutely relevant question.
In verse 44, Jesus asks: “How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?”
His point is that the Jewish leaders are blinkered, short-sighted, even blinded by their obsession with their status and their standing in society. They are, very much like the fresh-faced Andrew who rocked up at University wholly unprepared for the character-shaping time he would have, ignorant of what God’s thinks of them and orientated on their own public facade.
In that place, it becomes incredibly difficult to, as Jesus asks, believe what God says. You become deaf to His words, you become disobedient to His commands, you become hard to his heart-softening love.
So, do not seek the glory one another, but rather, accept and be steadfast in the fact that you, yes you, are a child of God, loved by Him forevermore.
Written by:Andy Dowdeswell