“He can’t see the forest for the trees.” So goes the old saying. For those unfamiliar with it, it means that a person has become so absorbed with the minute details that he has lost sight of the big picture. None of us are immune to this problem.
It’s an accusation that Jesus levels at the Pharisees at the end of John 5. “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life” [John 5:39-40] and “… if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me” [John 5:46].
Pretty serious accusations considering that the Pharisees revered the Scriptures. They treasured them, committing huge swathes of their Bible (our Old Testament) to memory.
It would be fair to say that they knew the Scriptures inside-out, upside-down, and every other which-way. It was their favourite point of discussion, debate, learning, writing, and study.
“Not good enough!” Jesus tells them. “You’ve missed the point.” And so can we…
Picture yourself laying back in a small boat on a lake, sun shining, breeze blowing, birds chirping. All’s right with the world and there’s nothing to disturb your peace. Blissful! How easy it is to just lay there and drift.
In the course of one perfect afternoon, your little boat could float from one side of the lake to the other, with just the lightest of breezes blowing. Of course, then will come the hard work of rowing back to the other side, but we can worry about that later. Let’s just enjoy this while we can.
As enjoyable and as easy as it is, drifting is not always safe. And that’s exactly what Heb 2 warns.
Crime shows on TV have a huge audience. How many versions of ‘CSI,’ or ‘NCIS,’ or ‘Law and Order’ can we watch? Our appetite seems insatiable for them.
There seems to be something about the challenge of piecing together evidence and finding witnesses to a crime that fascinates us.
Of course, it helps that we are watching mostly fictionalised events from the safety of our loungerooms. Everyone wants to see the bad guy get what he deserves.
Might be a bit different if we were the accused. We’d find it much less entertaining then, I suspect. It would be even less entertaining if we were truly guilty of the crime.
But to be accused without evidence, without witnesses, without a ‘body’ or ‘a smoking gun’ is just going to far.
But that’s what Jesus faced in John 5. The Pharisees held an impromptu ‘kangaroo court’ to judge Jesus for being a law-breaker after He healed the man by the Pool of Bethesda.
So, are we saved by grace, or are we saved by our good works? It’s an age-old question.
I can almost hear the shouts, “By grace, of course! How can you imagine anything else?”
Then why does Jesus say in John 5:28-29 “… an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment”?
It seems pretty plain: “… those who have done good… those who have done evil…”
Have Christians got this wrong all this time?