I lay down my life ...

For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
There was again a division among the Jews because of these words. Many of them said, “He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to him?” Others said, “These are not the words of one who is oppressed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”

Many years ago two strangers knocked on my door and proceeded to give me their spin on the gospel story. When I told them that my wife was healed of blindness they told me that they believed that the devil healed people to lead them astray. I imagine the Jews, who confronted Jesus at every turn, had similar concerns. Yet I think that the issue was not so much theological as it was one of control. These religious elders were not healers. They were simply scholars who felt that they were losing their influence on the masses.

These elders are not portrayed as humble men concerned with the lives of those who followed them. They laid heavy burdens on the masses and were strict legalists. In contrast Jesus seemed to be all about the masses - he taught in ways that the simplest among them could understand and was often moved by compassion when he saw people suffering. In contrast to the elders Jesus' ministry was not about protecting his reputation or image but it was about laying his life down. Even before the cross he laid his life down every day.

I offer my life to you Lord as a living sacrifice. Help me to deny myself and follow you.

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