Links Daily Devotional

When Blasphemy Isn’t

“I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Mark 14:62, NIV)

While it’s not a beautiful expression, it exists in nearly every sport, from the playground basketball courts of the inner cities to the lush fairways of the finest clubs. It goes like this: “It’s not bragging if you can back it up.”

As men and women of the Book, we should make every effort to defend and practice humility. Some things shouldn’t be said, at least not at certain times and in certain tones, even if they are true. While an accomplished person may take pride in those accomplishments, maybe the second best idea is to do so in the quiet of one’s own mind, where the best idea is to do so in continuing thanks to God for his supply of unmerited grace in skill and intellect and circumstance. In either case, humility presides.

But what if one is pressed for the facts and the context approves self-expression? I am thinking of a job interview or a court of law. A candidate for an employment or an expert witness—both are given permission to speak well of themselves for the sake of the conversation and the decisions that will be made based on that conversation.

Jesus would not have been crucified except for his words being taken as blasphemy, except that he claimed to be God.We encounter such a scenario when we read through the Passion Week accounts in the Gospel of Mark. Jesus, after his dark-of-night arrest, was brought into the chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin, who “were looking for evidence against Jesus so they could put him to death” (Mark 14:55).

As it turned out, there was no such evidence. False testimonies lacked agreement and no one could show that he had broken even the slightest law. Then one witness noted that Jesus had said he would “destroy the temple.” He had been referring to the death of his own body, but many had taken him for a radical who would tear Judaism down to its quite literal foundations. But when Jesus stayed silent in response to this accusation, the high priest pressed him: “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?”

Here Jesus would not hold the truth in check. He was being asked to identify himself, and so he did. “I am,” he said, invoking God’s oldest name for himself. To speak this phrase and to go on in describing his coming ascent to the right hand of the Mighty One could mean only one thing in the minds of the religious leaders: blasphemy. Jesus was claiming to be God.

Read that again: Jesus was claiming to be God. Some will tell you today that the Lord never did such a thing. Such an argument fails the cross test. That is, Jesus would not have been crucified except for these words being taken as blasphemy, except that he claimed to be God.

In the hours we spend this week reflecting on the death and resurrection of Jesus, we cannot miss the fact that this was God himself going to the cross and God himself raised from the dead. A pretender, a “true blasphemer,” may have done the first; he could not have done the second. For this reason, Jesus the blasphemer was anything but. He was precisely who he said he was.

Jeff Hopper
March 23, 2016
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The Links Daily Devotional appears Monday-Friday at www.linksplayers.com.