Have you ever had a conversation with someone that you knew was going to be difficult? Maybe you skirted around the central issue for a while, waiting to gauge their reaction? Or are you the kind of person that will get straight to the point, attacking the subject that needs to be addressed without wavering, in terms that are easily understood?
In today’s scriptures from John 8:12-10:21, Jesus challenges both His fans and His detractors. He is drawing a line in the sand, calling us to examine what we believe about Him. He does this is a series of conversations with the group who were fast becoming His enemies: the Pharisees. They are continually asking Him who He is, and how He has the authority and power to do the miraculous things they see Him doing. Jesus responds by making bold, audacious claims, clearly stating that He is sent by God, and in fact, is equal with God, and if they do not believe in Him they are proving that they belong to their father, the devil, and will die in their sins.
For those who believe Jesus is who He says He is, these chapters contain encouraging, comforting insights into our Savior. He is the light of the world; those who follow Him will not walk in darkness but have the light of life. He is the good shepherd who knows His sheep; His sheep know His voice and follow Him. He is the shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep by His own initiative; no one takes His life, and He has authority to raise it up again. He is the gate, the door to salvation. Those who advertise ways to enter the kingdom of heaven by any other way than Jesus are thieves and robbers.
As I read these chapters, it reinforces a truth for me. You can’t be ambivalent about Jesus. It’s impossible for Him to be just a good man with some nice ideas on how to live a good life. He’s either who He says He is, the Son of God sent by the Father as the Savior, or He is a crazy, lying deceiver. There is no in-between. You must either fully accept Him or reject Him outright. He’s not “beating around the bush” to try to convince us He’s a good guy. He’s making us choose sides.
John 10:19-21 says it clearly: “A division occurred again among the Jews, because of these words. Many of them were saying, ‘He has a demon and is insane. Why do you listen to Him?’ Others were saying, ‘These are not the sayings of one demon-possessed. A demon cannot open the eyes of the blind, can he?’”
We may not have been in the crowd that day when Jesus made His claims, but every one of us will have to give an account as to what we believe about Him. If you believe Jesus is who He says He is, then give your life fully and completely over to Him and live for Him. Don’t just “dabble” at being a good Christian, trying to play both sides. Jesus calls us to account. We’re either for Him or against Him. There is no middle ground.