What TWO Can DO L4L.19

Eggistentialism 1.5 or Three of a Perfect Pair

Image by bitzcelt via Flickr


‘The Pharisees replied, “You are making those claims about yourself! Such testimony is not valid.” Jesus told them, “These claims are valid even though I make them about myself. For I know where I came from and where I am going, but you don’t know this about me. You judge me by human standards, but I do not judge anyone. And if I did, my judgment would be correct in every respect because I am not alone. The Father who sent me is with me. Your own law says that if two people agree about something, their witness is accepted as fact. I am one witness, and my Father who sent me is the other.”’ John 8:13-18 (New Living Translation)

This challenge from the Pharisees comes on the heels of Jesus’ failure to pass judgment on the woman caught in adultery (“Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”). Seems that these leaders of the faith were more apt to buy into a messiah figure who would wield his weapons of war on the battlefield of works and moral judgment  than one whose failure to condemn the clearly guilty left them feeling uncomfortably unjustified.

‘The Pharisees objected, “All we have is your word on this. We need more than this to go on.” Jesus replied, “You’re right that you only have my word. But you can depend on it being true. I know where I’ve come from and where I go next. You don’t know where I’m from or where I’m headed. You decide according to what you can see and touch. I don’t make judgments like that. But even if I did, my judgment would be true because I wouldn’t make it out of the narrowness of my experience but in the largeness of the One who sent me, the Father. That fulfills the conditions set down in God’s Law: that you can count on the testimony of two witnesses. And that is what you have. You have my word and you have the word of the Father who sent me.”’ (The Message)

As He often did, Jesus demonstrated His knowledge and understanding of Jewish Law by quoting from Deuteronomy (17:6 and 19:15), which had to make the Pharisees more than a little bit hot beneath the collar. In both of these Old Testament verses, the point made is that no man should be found guilty of a crime on the say-so of only one witness; the testimony of two or more is required.

Funny how Jesus managed to turn the Jewish leaders’ demand for proof of Jesus’ claims into His own method of defense. They demanded that Jesus bring a sound witness forward, to prove He was telling the truth. Jesus insinuates that what they’re really trying to do is find Him guilty of a crime, to which He offers the testimony of His Father; the Word of God Himself.


How many times have you found yourself in a situation where your words and witness fell short of being convincing? I was in this very place years ago, when I found myself working for a leader whose behind-the-scenes manipulation had become a grotesque art form. No matter what this person said or did to exercise control over me or to try to put me in my ‘place’, no one else was ever around when it happened. I was the only one who knew about the fiery darts that routinely pierced my sensitive skin and left me wounded and doubting my abilities, my intentions and my calling.

These circumstances ended up being an eye-opening experience, illustrating the need for the testimony of two; if there had been another witness, I don’t think I would have been the one to leave that workplace. But as it was, it would have been my word against his; not an ideal situation no matter how you frame it.

Jesus’ words acknowledge God’s Law in this confrontation with the Pharisees because Jesus knew that they wouldn’t listen to Him alone. Many times our squabbles in the faith arise from a “he said, she said” exchange, where you tell me what you think and I counter with my own words, to which you add your arguments and consequently pour fuel on my fire…

Jesus didn’t take this approach.

Jesus provided the testimony of two when He chose to let God speak on the subject, by letting God’s Word speak for Himself.

Now, you might argue that Christians do this all the time. Who hasn’t been the victim of scripture quoted for the purpose of proving that someone else is wrong so that I can be right? We can subtly (or blatantly) insert scripture into our conversations in order to throw more weight around than we actually have, and we can do this for our own selfish gain while furthering our own self-serving agendas.

This is not what Jesus did, nor is it what He is teaching us to do. Instead, He was aligning Himself with the powerful witness of One whose Word could validate Jesus’ own words and actions.

Jesus chose the testimony of two – He and His Father’s Word – so that He might be successful in the mission He was on.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 speaks about our very real need for the testimony of two:  

“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”

Quite literally, Jesus knew what two could do, and He chose to stand unified with the Father when confronted by those who would attack Him with their words, with their anger, and finally with their weapon of death on a cross.

You and I could choose today to walk the narrow road alone, but why would we when we know what two can do?

Two can help one another succeed.

Two can pick each other up when they fall.

Two can huddle together for warmth in this cold world.

Two can stand back-to-back and conquer any enemy that comes their way.

Jesus knew what two can do, and He chose to stand back-to-back with His Father, conquering death and sin so that you and I might be brought into unbroken fellowship with the powerful witness of One whose Word can validate our own words and actions.

You know that Christ comes with His Father’s testimony. Align yourself with Christ!

You know that there are people in your life who are witnesses of God’s work in you. Align yourself with them!

Where two or more are gathered together in the Name of Jesus, THERE HE IS among you!

It’s time to be Literal 4 Lent, my friend.

It’s time to see just what two can do!

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Getting it SDRAWKCAB L4L.28

Grain in the field

Grain in the field (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


“Then Jesus said to [the Pharisees], ‘The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of the people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath.’” Mark 2:27 (New Living Translation)

“Then Jesus said to the Pharisees, ‘The Sabbath day was made to help people; they were not made to be ruled by the Sabbath day.’” (New Century Version)

God created. Land, sea, stars, moon, trees, flowers, animals, humans. After a survey of the work of His hands, He found it all to be very good. He heaved a holy sigh of contentment and took a day off – to appreciate His workmanship. To enjoy His surroundings. To reinvigorate His creative energy. To rest.

And He calls us to do the same.


Forever looking to discredit this Rabbi of the rabble, the Pharisees seem to have spent a good deal of time and energy following Jesus around. On this day, they watched as the motley crew of twelve snacked on ripe heads of grain while walking through a field. It was the Sabbath – God’s day of rest. Jesus and His disciples were traveling on foot, presumably outside of any town (hence the fields of grain), and yet here were those overly-zealous Pharisees, in hot pursuit. On the Sabbath. When they should have been at home, resting. (Shame on them.)

Dedicated to keeping the entire Law of God (and ensuring that others did, too), these legalistic purists managed to find fault with Jesus everywhere He went. On this day, they were themselves breaking the Sabbath in order to catch Jesus doing the same.

In their passion for the letter of the Law, these religion fanatics managed to do more damage than good in their time and culture, as evidenced by the great number of times that Jesus is found responding to their veiled threats and vile efforts to entrap Him on a violation of God’s commands. Somehow, what started as a faithful attempt to get it right ended up becoming a frightful adventure in missing the point, and here we find the Pharisees getting it BACKWARDS. Again.

We are each in danger of following suit with the Pharisees when we take God’s commands into our own hands. There really is a fine line between our best efforts to do life God’s way and trying to fit God’s ways into our best efforts at doing life. When the Pharisees set out to ‘keep’ the Sabbath, somehow it became an issue of ‘ownership’. Jesus follows up His words in Mark 2:27 with a comment that must have stung like salt in the open wounds of their injured egos – He said ‘The Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath day.’ (Mark 2:28)

Whether it’s the commands of God regarding Sabbath rest or any other teaching in scripture, the moment I presume to take ownership of it, I’m no different than the Pharisees. God’s words and God’s ways are just that… GOD’S. When I choose to follow and obey His teachings, I no more ‘own’ them than the Pharisees ‘owned’ the Sabbath. They literally chose to ‘keep’ the Sabbath for themselves, failing to realize that the invitation was never one of possession, but of participation with God in celebration of creativity and the work of our collective hands.

I set out to write this blog during the season of Lent, and this is our final week together. On the evening before each Literal 4 Lent post has been ‘due’, I have diligently completed the necessary steps to have L4L ready for you to read the next day. Until last night.

I was halfway into this text when it hit me that I am not so different than the Pharisees. God has given me a gift and an invitation to use it in His world – I love to write! I especially love to write about Him. But when my response to His invitation begins to look like ‘ownership’, I find myself getting it BACKWARDS. And I found myself in that place last night – convicted by Jesus’ Lordship over everything in my life.

So, instead of cranking out today’s blog on time, I yielded to the Lord of the Sabbath. This post, while ‘late’, has literally served to remind me that this work of mine isn’t mine, but His. The day I possess these gifts of God in my life is the day they become mine to manipulate – to withhold or dispense on my own schedule rather than God’s.

Today I choose to participate in the large work of the Lord rather than attempt to possess the small work I am capable of producing on my own.

Instead of getting it SDRAWKCAB – againI resolve not to be ruled by the interpretation of God’s Word, but by the literal Word Himself.

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