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22 The time came for the Festival of Dedication [or Hanukkah] in Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was in the temple, walking in the covered porch named for Solomon. 24 The Jewish opposition circled around him and asked, “How long will you test our patience? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”
25 Jesus answered, “I have told you, but you don’t believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, 26 but you don’t believe because you don’t belong to my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice. I know them and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life. They will never die, and no one will snatch them from my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them from my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”
31 Again [cf. John 8:59] the Jewish opposition picked up stones in order to stone him. 32 Jesus responded, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of those works do you stone me?”
33 The Jewish opposition answered, “We don’t stone you for a good work but for insulting God. You are human, yet you make yourself out to be God.”
37 [Jesus said,] “If I don’t do the works of my Father, don’t believe me. 38 But if I do them, and you don’t believe me, believe the works so that you can know and recognize that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” 39 Again, they wanted to arrest him, but he escaped from them.
John described the behavior of Jesus’ foes in aggressive, storm-like language, writing that they “circled around him.” (That was not a unique happening—cf. Luke 4:16-29). They asked a serious-enough question: “If you are the Christ (Greek for “anointed one,” i.e. the Messiah), tell us plainly.” The problem was that they’d already settled on a negative answer. When Jesus said, “I and the Father are one” (verse 30), they picked up stones with the intention of stoning him to death!
Lord Jesus, I want to bear fruit that honors and glorifies you. Plant the seed of your word in my heart and grow it into a life that nourishes life in others. Amen.
With all the buzz lately about Artificial Intelligence, I thought as we considered today’s passage we might “visit” with Dr. Hiram Eyekew, Director of the Astute Institute of Artificial Intelligence Optimization.
DL: Dr. Eyekew, so your organization’s nickname is A.I.A.I.O?
Dr. Eyekew: Bingo. That’s our name-o. Please call me Hi.
DL: Alright. So, Hi, tell us about your group.
Hi Eyekew: We are sociologists focusing on assessing the intelligence levels of societies through the ages. We hope this knowledge will help us to maximize the application of Artificial Intelligence in a wide variety of fields.
DL: You know, I was once evaluated for my IQ. I was so relieved when they told me my results were negative.
Hi Eyekew: Um? Anyway, some of our findings are controversial. Like when we found that 50% of cultures were above average intelligence & 50% were below average, we were accused of just being mean.
DL: What’s your take on today’s Scripture?
Hi Eeyekew: Our modern society is flooded with experts & consultants who tend to have a very inflated view of their own intelligence & expertise. We have become so enamored with our technological advancements, for example, that we think that we have reached the pinnacle of human existence.
However, I would submit that this “recency bias,” where current accomplishments are given too much credit, doesn’t give proper due to previous great writers, scientists, & thinkers. A perfect example of this problem would be Jesus.
Despite no known educational credentials (John 7:15), I would contend that Jesus was the smartest human to ever live. The best & the brightest of His generation tried to best Him in debate after debate with trick questions, logic problems, & legal arguments to no avail. However, Jesus’ aptitude & expertise went far beyond mere debating skills. Consider a few examples:
1) His parables, like the Prodigal Son, are considered to be some of the greatest short stories in all of literature.
2) His healing skills were demonstrated again & again in His miracles.
3) His knowledge of the law & its proper application to everyday life assured that justice was not just an ideal – but a reality.
4) His insight into human nature was so extensive it far exceeds our current psychological/psychiatric fields of expertise.
5) His understanding of sciences like biology, botany, physics, & chemistry, was on display during His discussions & miracles – like turning molecules of water into wine.
DL: So, what does this mean for us today?
Hi Eeyekew: We live in a society that is seemingly overwhelmed with melancholy & feelings of hopelessness. Perhaps we are listening to the wrong experts. What if we quit our obsessive quest for advice from some faceless search engine or following the latest fad that promises to give us a life of contentment?
Imagine how different our civilization would be if, instead, we sought out a counselor/guide who gave us timeless, clear-cut guiding principles like:
1) Let God be the focal point of your life’s goals & quests.
2) Love yourself & love your neighbor.
3) Don’t be so quick to judge others.
4) Don’t worry needlessly.
5) Don’t become enamored or obsessed with the temporary treasures/victories of the current age, but focus on what is truly worthy.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have tickets to attend a Mozart retrospective.
DL: Oh, I love his work. His painting at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is one of my favorites.
Hi Eeyekew: Um….