Daily Devotion for March 3, 2011
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
Prayer for the Morning (written by Metropolitan Philaret)
Lord, give me the strength to greet the coming day in peace. Help me in all things to rely on Your holy will. Reveal Your will to me every hour of the day. Bless my dealings with all people. Teach me to treat all people who come to me throughout the day with peace of soul and with firm conviction that Your will governs all. In all my deeds and words guide my thoughts and feelings. In unexpected events, let me not forget that all are sent by you.
Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering and embarrassing others. Give me the physical strength to bear the labors of this day. Direct my will, teach me to pray, pray in me.
Prayer of Thanksgiving
Father in heaven, creator of all and source of all goodness and love, please look kindly upon me and receive my heartfelt gratitude for all that you have done for me and for those I love. Thank you for all the graces and blessings, both spiritual and temporal, that you have bestowed upon me, my family, and the community of the faithful: Our faith and religious heritage; our food and shelter; our health; the love we have for one another; and the lives of our family and friends. Dear Father, in your infinite generosity, please grant me continued grace and blessings during the coming day. This I ask in the name of Jesus Christ, your only son, who has saved us from death.
Almighty God, by your Holy Spirit you have made me one with your saints in heaven and on earth. Grant that in my earthly pilgrimage I may always be supported by this fellowship of love and prayer, and know myself to be surrounded by their witness to your power and mercy. I ask this for the sake of Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.
For her proceeds are better than the profits of silver, And her gain than fine gold.
She is more precious than rubies, And all the things you may desire cannot compare with her.
John 8:12-20 (NKJV)
Jesus Defends His Self-Witness
Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, �I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.�
The Pharisees therefore said to Him, �You bear witness of Yourself; Your witness is not true.�
Jesus answered and said to them, �Even if I bear witness of Myself, My witness is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from and where I am going. You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. And yet if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone, but I am with the Father who sent Me. It is also written in your law that the testimony of two men is true. I am One who bears witness of Myself, and the Father who sent Me bears witness of Me.�
Then they said to Him, �Where is Your Father?� Jesus answered, �You know neither Me nor My Father. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also.�
These words Jesus spoke in the treasury, as He taught in the temple; and no one laid hands on Him, for His hour had not yet come.
Notes on the Scripture
John 8 and 9 can be difficult to read, and it is tempting just to skim over them. But we have set out to read the entire Gospel, and that means digging into the difficult parts.
What is presented here is, essentially, a Jewish court seeking to establish the truth of Jesus' claim to divinity, by using Jewish legal procedures. Jewish law required that two witnesses swear to a fact, in many cases, in order to prove it true. (See, e.g., Deuteronomy 19:15.) Moreover, in some cases (as far as I can tell) a person may not bear witness as to himself, although in at least some cases he can. But the context of the quoted verses shows that the Pharisees would not accept Jesus' testimony as to his own divinity -- and since the Pharisees were experts, it's safe to say that two independent witnesses were required.
Jesus' reply is difficult to follow, but what he says, in essence, is that he is not subject to their rules. He poses a logical quandary; because if he is not the Son of God, he would be subject to their court and would not be able to prove that he is the Son of God. But if what he says is true, and he is the Son of God, then they have no right to require him to follow their procedures.
He then spins logic around even further by saying that he does have two witnesses, himself and his Father. When the Pharisees ask him to produce his Father as a witness, he tells them that they cannot know him -- and cannot take testimony from him -- unless they first accept that he is the Son of God.
This is the logical quandary that we all face in our faith. Once we come to accept Christ, we know God, and we need no "proof". But if a person does not know Christ, he cannot know God, and God's existence cannot be proven to him.
The solution to this eternal dilemma is something Jesus says, which we have already read in the Gospel of John. If we truly seek God, and are "poor in spirit" --that is, if we do not fill our minds with our own preconceptions -- we will find Christ. To find the kingdom of God, you must first seek it. If a person is skeptical, Jesus cannot be proven to him; but if he seeks God, no proof is necessary, because the person will find Him himself.