Passion Sunday

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Hebrew 9: 11-15 John 8: 46-59

Whoever is of God hears the Word of God

Have you ever experienced a situation where you had a conversation with someone and you felt that you were not understood? The more you try to clarify your statement, the more you felt that both of you were speaking two different languages. Jesus experienced the same situation. We remember two weeks ago, the gospel of Luke presented Jesus defining the Nature and Power of His mission and His Kingdom. We also remember that he was criticized of using Beelzebub to perform miracles. And we said that the confrontation with the Jews religious leaders will build up all the way to the cross. Here in our gospel, the confrontation is about hearing or listening to the word of God; being of God or being of the world.

Difference between hearing and listening

Jesus points out the difference between hearing and listening to the word of God. “Whoever is of God hears the words of God”. The Greek translation is Akouo meaning listen. The difference between both words is that hearing means the sound hit your ear. Listening means the sound hit your heart. The Jews of Jesus’ days chose just to hear not to listen. They are some people who do not want to listen to the word of God, the word of life. How can we understand and fulfill the will of God if we don’t listen to his word? Those who truly receive the word of God in their heart do not have to fear anything. Our Epistle today presents Jesus Christ as “our high priest who has sacrificed His own blood to pay the debt of our sins. It was a complete sacrifice sufficient for all the sins of the world. Because of this sacrifice, we are saints in the eyes of God”. The only way that the sacrifice of Jesus will become effective in our life is to listen to his word. In the first chapter of the Gospel of John, we read: “1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1: 1-5). During my personal meditation, I have been drawn to these verses lately, because the sacrifice of Jesus truly happened when the word became flesh. We must understand that to save us, Jesus had to empty himself, put aside all his divine rights. Paul said in Epistle to the Philippians that: “he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross” (Philippians 2: 7-8)! That is the word of God we all need to receive in order to be saved, not following a tradition like the Pharisees of Jesus’ time.

The word of God or our Tradition?

Traditions occur simply when we keep repeating the same thing over and over again. God offers much more to us than tradition. He offers newness of life. His Word is life; however, we can quench the life in the Word through our own traditions.

Religions are full of traditions, and Christianity has many. When a tradition overshadows the life-giving Word of God, that word is not effective. How many times have you sung the doxology or repeated the Lord’s Prayer? If we are not careful, even the words we speak and sing can be repeated so often that we take them for granted and are not affected by them.

Our goal as we daily walk with the Lord is to keep our spiritual eyes and ears open to the new fresh things He wants to invest in our lives. Each day He seeks to give us fresh manna, but if we leave the Word on the shelf and do not partake of it, it will have no effect upon us. Never allow the way you worship God to become tradition. Worship in church should never be the “same old, same old.” Each time we gather together to worship the Lord, there should be an expectancy of something new from God’s Word or the songs we sing that will touch and change our hearts. Guard yourself against letting your worship and quiet times becoming simply routine.

Let us read and keep the word of God. That word is the way, the truth and the life. Amen!