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Sticks and Stones
by Mary Alice McGinnis
Remember the chant we used to repeat when we were kids? “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” In today’s reading, Jesus is again being attacked by His enemies, the Religious Leaders of His day. All their attempts to discredit Jesus had failed. In fact, John 8:30 says, “Even as He (Jesus) spoke, many believed in Him.” Finally in exasperation, they resort to name calling and stone throwing. What is Jesus’ response? Even though they TRY to discredit and dishonor Him, He holds fast to the love of God, His Father who is His ONLY Judge! 1 Peter 2:23 says, “When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly.”
I heard this illustration this past week and I think it is very appropriate here.
If someone had a $500 bill and offered it to you, would you take it?
What if that same $500 was all crumpled up in a tight little ball? Would you still want it?
Now, if that crumpled up $500 bill was put in someone’s mouth, would you still decide it was worth it? (Okay, that is gross! Especially given all the germs going around these days.)
Keep in mind, since new $500 bills have not been printed since 1969, the value of this currency is FAR more than its face value.
Finally, if that same $500 that is crumpled up, put in someone’s mouth was then thrown down into a mud puddle and stomped on, would you still want it?
Most of us would say a resounding “YES!! Of course, I would want it!”
Why? Because no matter what, it is still VALUABLE! It is still worth $500 and probably much MORE!
Jesus knows Who He is and Whose He is! His identity CANNOT be altered by the name calling nor the stone throwing of His accusers. Amid His response, Jesus declares these profound words of promise: “Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.” Jesus IS the WORD of God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1) How do we obey His word? By not casting Him aside, but keeping Him close, allowing Him to live in and through us, by listening to Him. By surrendering to Him, because by holding firm to Who He is we are SET FREE! Notice Jesus promises said, we won’t SEE death. The Pharisees twist His words, asking, haven’t all tasted death? Death is not just the loss of physical life. Ultimate death is “the misery of soul arising from sin, which begins on earth but lasts and increases after the death of the body."
Jesus says, “before Abraham was born, I am!” He is the One who was from the beginning, the same I AM who appeared to Moses in the burning bush. He always WILL BE! He is the One whom even death cannot hold.
How does this help you see Jesus’ response in a different way? Lord Jesus, lead me to, holding fast to, keeping focused on this sure and certain hope of Who You are. Help me to see the love you poured out for me. When I look at myself, I see only brokenness, sin, and shame. But when I look at You, hanging on the cross for me, I see how much YOU were willing to pay for me! Help me to securely fix my gaze upon my identity that is found is YOU alone.
Prayer through Song – Pour out your heart to God through prayer and worship right now through the words of this song. “The Great I Am!”