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May 13, Day #134 – “This Man, Jesus”

Yesterday in Judges 13, we read about the birth of Samson. Today, in Judges 14-15, we see the character of Samson - a very self-centered individual - and his exploits as a judge over Israel under Philistine domination. Actually, many parallels and contrasts exist between the lives of Samson and Jesus, but the Latter’s life is under the full control of the Holy Spirit, whereas the former’s life is not. Samson, an unlikely hero, doesn’t seem to be the type of person whom God would choose, for he is cocky, demanding, impulsive, indiscriminate, temperamental, and undiscerning. Though he has great physical strength, his strength is unrestrained, and he is spiritually, emotionally, and psychologically weak. This reveals the deficits of our own self-control; by attempting to manage ourselves, we become miserable and wretched. We need the Holy Spirit to control us. Samson can overpower a lion, the bees, and the foxes, but Samson cannot control Samson - his “heifer” brings him down. Interestingly, as his wife, she is as unfaithful to him as Samson is to God. Under the threat of being burned alive by her own people, “she explained his riddle to her people” (verse 17), who - in the end - burned her alive anyway. Nevertheless, even through all our weaknesses, God can see what we cannot see - again and again. Before we judge others, we should remember that our human limitations keep us from seeing and understanding. God knows what is needed at certain times, and what He allows is up to Him. He tolerated a lot in Samson, but there are also moments in Samson’s life unknown to us. Those moments are likely the ones that drew Samson to be used mightily by God. Tomorrow, we will see Samson’s downfall.

The last time we looked at Proverbs 11, we said that the practice of righteousness is equated with a whole tree – in fact – with “the tree of life” (verse 30; cf., Genesis 3:22; Revelation 22:19). Today, in Proverbs 11:29-12:7, we see that our whole lives should be characterized by this tree which produces fruit - righteousness, wisdom, and discipline. These verses are principles designed for us to apply and practice in our daily lives. Doing God’s will is a choice! Why anyone would not want to receive God’s favor is perplexing to me - although it has to do with making that choice to seek Him, to follow His will, and to do it. Finding God’s favor is tantamount to the difference between finding “a wife of noble character and a disgraceful wife; the difference between a crown and decay in the bones; the difference between being dead and finding the tree of life” verses 4-7).

John 7:14-44 clearly states that doing the will of God is a choice. It is interesting to see how broadly divided the people were about Jesus in this section. Some wanted “to kill Him” (verse 25); some tried “to seize Him” (verse 30); the chief priests, Pharisees, and temple guards “wanted to arrest Him” (verse 32); others raised all kinds of questions about Him (verses 35-36); “some people said He is a prophet” (verse 40), and others, “He is the Christ” (verse 41). “Still others asked, ‘how can He come from Galilee?” (verse 41). “Thus, the people were divided” (verse 43). Of course, such division parallels people’s responses to Him today, and it is exactly what Jesus said that He came to do – to bring division (cf., Matthew 10:34-36; Luke 12:51). We also notice what the people knew about “this man,” an impersonal expression repeated six times in this chapter (verses 15, 27, 31, 35, 40, and 46). They had information about “His learning without having studied” (verse 15); false information that “He was demon-possessed” (verse 20); that He might be “the Messiah” (i.e., "the Christ;" verse 26); His “miraculous signs” (verse 31); He “is the Prophet” (verse 40); and that He would be “of David’s descendants, from Bethlehem, and of origin unknown to them” (verses39-43). Those people of His day, divided like many people of our day, were blind to see that Jesus fulfilled all these prophetic truths. How sad that people haven’t changed, and still today, so many refuse to accept the truth about “this man,” Jesus.

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