Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Softened or Broken

What are you expecting as you anticipate the preached Word each Sunday?

Read John 7:40-52.

This passage is clearly full of much more than will be mentioned in this simple blog, but for posting purposes let's focus on just a few statements or words. The background and context can be read as a whole but let's concentrate on only two verses (46-47). In the small conversation between the pagan officers and the externally holy Pharisees, I hope we will be awakened to a tradgedy that could dwell among us. The union of these two groups never ceases to amaze me in the gospels, and how the Pharisees maintained their prideful arrogance while associating with such a rugged group of folks as these has always assisted me in disassociating myself with the Pharisees. Fortunately for me and my pride, God breaks this filthy heart by allowing me to see myself in the Pharisees shoes more often than I would care to admit. However, they are actually not the group that stood out to me this morning in study. Despite the Pharisees wrongfully resting in their outward appearance and deeds, their arrogance is well understood and their position is almost predictable from this point forward in Scripture. You can expect them to utterly oppose the person of Jesus Christ in the face of clear evidence that Christ is God. Speaking to the officers, the Pharisees say, "You have not also been led astray, have you?" I was expecting that statement from them, they hate Christ, the oppose Him, always. In a sense, I know where they stand. But look at the statement preceding that one from the officers who were sent to arrest Christ (another failed attempt because God's timing had not yet come). Listen to the officers report to the Pharisees, "Never has a man spoken the way this man speaks." They had obviously seen and heard a sermon or teaching from Jesus firsthand upon the arrest attempt; were clearly stopped and stunned by the teaching (all of them); and being amazed by the depth and heart wrenching extent of the words they heard made a group decision not to arrest Christ. If they were subdued by the word, why did they not repent and give themselves wholly to God? Because although, they admired the teaching of God, they were not willing to yield to Christ. What a tradgedy! O, that we are never softened by God's words, instead of being broken by God's words. I pray that we do not fall into the trap of admiring a softening of the heart. As painful as the breaking of the heart is, it is necessary and best for your soul. Pray to this end.

Note to Grace Church folks: Continue to prepare your hearts for the preaching of the Word each Sunday, we are encouraged as pastors and much is being done in your soul when you arrive bathed in the sermon text. How glorious would it be to be broken before the Word is preached? How much more might we be filled?

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