Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?” “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” JOHN 10:31-33
To the Jews Jesus' statement that he and the Father were one was blasphemy. The Jewish law laid down the penalty of stoning for blasphemy (see Leviticus 24:16). So they made their preparations to stone Jesus. The Greek here literally means that they went and fetched stones to fling at him. Jesus met their hostility by refreshing their memory of reality:
He told them that he had spent all of his days doing heavenly things—healing the sick, feeding the hungry, comforting the grieving—deeds so full of help and beauty and grace that they obviously came from God. For which of these did they wish to stone him? Their answer was that it was not for anything he had done, that they wished to stone him, but for the claim he was making.
Jesus claimed primarily two things for himself: He was 'consecrated' by God and 'sent' by God into the world with a message of good news and the task of reconciliation; "For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them" (see II Corinthians 5:18-20).
I am not asking you to accept all of my words, Jesus said in effect, but I do ask you to accept my good deeds. A 'word' is something which people can argue about; but a 'deed' is something beyond argument. Jesus is the perfect teacher in that he does not base his claims only on what he says, but on what he is and does. His invitation to the Jews was to base their verdict on him, not on what he said, but on what he did; and that, my friends, is something which all of Jesus' followers should be willing to do—build God's kingdom with good deeds, not just with words. Amen.
There's an old saying that God gave us two ears and one mouth so we may hear more and talk less. Indeed, how well we use our ears can play an important part in determining what we learn as we go through life. It is true that the good listener adds immeasurably to the art of true conversation - and to the enjoyment of those around them.
Listening, some say, is a 'learned' skill. And when we develop it to the fullest, we increase not only our capacity to learn but also our ability to maintain healthy relationships. A true conversation is an opportunity to learn something 'about' one another 'from' one another.
There is two kinds of listening - active and passive. Most of us are good at passive listening. We appear to be listening when, in fact, our minds may have wandered off to the movie we saw last night or what we are going to wear tomorrow. Our attention can drift from a speaker during a lecture, or a sermon, or while watching television, and even when we're with close friends and family members.
Active listening can be difficult because it requires staying focused on what the speaker is saying. It depends on using our ears the way a photographer uses a camera. to get the best pictures, the photographer must adjust the lens until the settings are correct. As active listeners, we must adjust the focus of our attention to remain aware of what the speaker is telling us. the more we listen and learn, the better able we are to develop our potential.
The value of listening has been emphasized through the ages. The Egyptian scribe, Amen-em-Opet (1200 B.C.E), for example, said, "Give your ears, hear what is said." And Ben Sira, a Hebrew scholar of the second century B.C.E., commented, "If you love to hear, you will receive, and if you listen, you will be wise."
It takes practice and concentration, but we can become better listeners, and better listeners are better learners. God gave us not only two ears and one mouth, but also the potential to learn. The more we listen and learn, the better we may be able to realize the God-given potential that each of us possesses.
Jason E. Royle
Welcome to my blog. I'm an open-minded theologian committed to Christ-like compassion & understanding.
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