Tell Us Plainly

“I have told you, and you do not believe” (John 10:25a).

In the first lessons selected for this day, the theme is one of miraculous power over death, safe intimacy with God, and exultant triumph after trials. In the lesson from Acts, Peter raises the Joppan disciple Tabitha from the dead. Not only is this an astounding miracle worked through the intercession of Peter, but the faith of the believers in Joppa who sent for Peter is equally astounding. They sent for Peter after Tabitha’s death, apparently still hoping for a miracle — which they received.

Psalm 23 is the best-loved psalm, describing the Lord as a shepherd who comforts and provides for his disciple even in the “shadow of death” and in the presence of “enemies.” And the lesson from Revelation is the vision of the vast multitude of the redeemed, presumably from all parts, cultures, and times of the earth, rejoicing before God’s immediate presence. They have passed through a “great ordeal” and have been purified by Jesus’ blood, and are now eternally joyful.

But the key lesson, which holds these other lessons together, is the gospel, for it is about Jesus’ identity. The “Jews” gather around him in the Temple area itself, the holiest and most central, obvious, and public place in the land, and urge him to clarify whether he is the Messiah or not. “Tell us plainly,” they beg, accusing him of being deliberately unclear so as to keep them “in suspense.”

Jesus responds that he is not keeping them in suspense, but in fact has already answered their question by the works he has done. That is, the reason they do not have an answer is because they do not belong to Jesus. And they do not belong to Jesus because they seek proof and are unwilling to love him, trust him, or accept the revelation that has already been made.

It is not so much lack of faith, but lack of a willingness to consider faith, that makes it impossible for the challengers to receive what has, in fact, already been given to them. With faith, one is able to believe that the dead can be raised, one can pass safely through the “shadow of death,” and come through the “great ordeal” – in each case into a state of bliss. But without the willingness to consider faith, one cannot even see what is directly in front of one’s face.

Jesus will never give undisputable proof (though he will give and still gives many “signs”), for to do so immediately and forever takes away the possibility of ever having faith, through which alone genuine love may emerge and grow.

Look It Up

Contrast the faith of those in Joppa after the death of Tabitha with the statement of the servants of Jairus after his daughter had died. See Mark 5:35.

Think About It

When Jesus was on trial before the Sanhedrin and Pilate, as well as on other occasions during his ministry, why was the most important question the matter of who he was?

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