Focal Passage: John 8:39-59
One of my favorite movies is The Sandlot. The first time I saw it was on an airplane with my brother, so maybe there is a sentimental pull to it for me, but I think the story, the acting, and the cinematography are good enough to stand on their own. It is a good movie.
At any rate, one of the best scenes is when the Hamilton Porter character (the great Hambino) gets into a name-calling episode with the leader of the “organized baseball team.” They shout back and forth at each other, each trying to “one up” the last comment made until ultimately, Hamilton wins the challenge by proclaiming that his opponent plays “baseball like a girl.” That did it. Contest over.
The focal passage for this lesson reads much like a similar “one-up” challenge. The people proclaimed Abraham as their father. Jesus refuted their statement saying they are following their “real” father (the devil). The people then claim God as their father. Jesus refutes that statement by telling them they’d love Him if God was their father. He goes on to explain who their “real” father is and describes him as a liar and murderer. And then He tells them that if they loved God, they’d listen to Him. The people respond by calling Him a Samaritan devil possessed by a demon. Jesus doesn’t flinch. He refutes their claims by saying He honors His Father and that anyone who obeys His teaching will never die. The people are getting angry now. They challenge Jesus’ statements and ask Him, “Who do you think you are?”
Back and forth they go until the people pick up stones to throw at Jesus.
On the surface this schoolyard banter is puzzling. What I see is much more beautiful than any sandlot challenge. What was Jesus trying to tell us about Himself?
Jesus seems to be saying not something so much about Himself, but more about His love for us. “God sent me” he says. “I do not wish for honor and glory but to honor and glorify My Father. In Me there is eternal life. I have always been and always will be.” He is demonstrating His ability to love us more than we can understand. The compassion, understanding, hope, and perseverance in His message is truly beautiful. The love that He communicates, the deflection of honor and glory and the patience even to death is a message that came through very clearly.
Mind boggling as it is, what Jesus said about Himself really says more about His love for us.