Why Don’t They Understand?
Briefing: Have you ever been in a situation where you were trying to help someone but they did not want help? I think of the countless victims of family violence I have come across. Why do they keep going back? I don’t understand.
Dispatch (Assignment): Read John 8:31-47.
On the Street: Sometimes it is hard to understand why people won’t accept your help. As a police officer, I have met many drug addicts and alcoholics who I have tried to help and talk to but they were not willing to accept the assistance. It is very similar to some experiences I have had with trying to tell people about Christ. Some people don’t want to hear the truth.
I have also been on the other side of refusing someone’s help. As a teenager, I remember my dad pleading with me to take his advice and learn from his experiences. I would politely listen to him then I would go make my own mistakes, usually the ones he had warned me about.
Jesus seems to have this same frustration with the Jewish crowd He was addressing. In verse 31, we see that this was a crowd that had believed in Him. Do you see that word “had”? It sounds like at some point, they stopped believing in Him.
As He tries to teach them about truth and what it takes to be His disciples, the crowd seems to get offended. Instead of listening and accepting His teaching, they start arguing. Jesus sees this crowd is the same wishy-washy people who will shout, “Hosanna to the Son of David” at the triumphal entry yet shout, “crucify Him” when He stands before Pilate.
Jesus’ disappointment seems to climax in verse 43. He asks the crowd, “Why don’t you understand what I say?” John 8:43 (HCSB). I can remember my own dad asking me, “What part of this don’t you understand?” I can tell you from my own experience, at this point your pride has pushed you to the point of no return. The answer to follow is something like, “I don’t want your help, I can fix this on my own”
The problem with us trying to fix our own failures is that we are usually responsible for getting ourselves in the situation to begin with. Why would we trust ourselves to get out of a problem we created? The problems are multiplied with salvation. Without Jesus’s help, we can’t fix the salvation issue. Years ago people liked to say that Jesus was a crutch to lean on when you got into trouble. A crutch implies that it helps you but you still do part of the work. When it comes to salvation, you can do none of the work. We have to trust Jesus to do it all.
Jesus is trying to save these people but they get so prideful and arrogant that they won’t accept His help. He identifies them as being of their father, the devil. The last verse in this section says, “He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” John 8:47 (NIV). Is your father the devil or God? You have to choose one or the other. By not choosing, you choose the devil.
Investigational Resources: In these verses, Jesus talks about being a slave to sin. He also talks about being a part of His family. For more information on being part of Jesus’ family and free from being a slave, see Romans 6:15-23, 7:14-25, and Galatians 4:1-7.
Officer Safety Principle: Choose to be a child of God and free from the slavery of sin. You have to make a choice.
from The Gospel of John Through the Eyes of a Cop
©by Charles Gilliland. Used by permission.
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