Make Room for Jesus (John 8:39-47)

Christ and Pharisee, by Russian painter Ivan Filichev, 1993

“Abraham is our father,” they [the religious leaders] answered.

“If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do what Abraham did. As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. You are doing the works of your own father.”

“We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.”

Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 

Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” (New International Version)

Glass-half-full or glass-half-empty? I confess I really don’t like those binary categories for people. That’s because I believe it misses a very important aspect of being a human. What’s most necessary is to have glass-fully-empty people.

While the religious leaders of Christ’ day were debating the subject of whether Jesus is of God, or not, they failed to notice something significant about themselves:

Their glasses were so full that they had no room for Messiah, even when he was standing right in front of their faces.

You cannot be full of God and full of yourself at the same time.

Only an empty vessel can be filled. Half-full or half-empty people only end up being in conflict with each other. They cannot find any room for Jesus in their lives.

Jesus had been dealing with these sort of shenanigans even before he was born. His poor parents had a dickens of a time finding a place for him to be born. There was no room in the inn. All the places were full. God was about to break into the world, and everyone was scuttling about as glass-half-full and glass-half-empty people.

In his earthly ministry, the religious leaders viewed Jesus as a competitor, not a compatriot – pitting themselves in conflict with him, even to the extreme.

“You are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word.” (John 8:37, NIV)

Conflict is inevitable. Put a bunch of sinners together in one place, add a few grumpy curmudgeons, some know-it-alls, then fireworks happens. I’ve always thought that every human institution is about one or two knock-down drag-out fights away from being non-existent.

At the heart of all the conflict is either an inability or an unwillingness to make room for another’s point of view. Where there is no room for mystery, there’s no room for Jesus.

How many settled beliefs and behaviors do you have? So many that your head and hands have no room for Jesus to do the unexpected?

Are you full of thoughts, opinions, and convictions? So much so that your interpretation of everything leaves no room for the contrary, even if it comes from Jesus?

Here’s how we get full of ourselves:

  1. Desire arises within. Options are considered in meeting the want or need.
  2. Conflict enters because there are others with competing desires.
  3. Expectations are formed when the desire is unmet. 
  4. Demands are made because of missed expectations.
  5. Judgment is meted-out to those not complying to the demands.
  6. Separation occurs with the intent of hurting another through a withdrawal of relationship.

You end up not making room for the other in your heart and life. You don’t make room because you’re already full of yourself and don’t want to change.

We, however, are to make room for Jesus and others because Jesus made room for us and expects us to do so for others.

My Father’s house has room to spare. (John 14:2, CEB)

Make room in your hearts for us. (2 Corinthians 7:2, NRSV)

Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. (Colossians 3:16, MSG)

Finding true and lasting satisfaction in Jesus as the Way is how to realize forgiveness, peace, and reconciliation. There is room at the foot of Christ’s cross for both me and you.

There’s Room at the Cross for You, by Billy Gaines

The cross upon which Jesus died
Is a shelter in which we can hide
And its grace so free is sufficient for me
And deep is its fountain as wide as the sea.

There’s room at the cross for you
There’s room at the cross for you
Though millions have come, there’s still room for one
Yes there’s room at the cross for you.

Though millions have found him a friend
And have turned from the sins they have sinned
The Savior still waits to open the gates
And welcome a sinner before it’s too late.

The hand of my Savior is strong
And the love of my Savior is long
Through sunshine or rain, through loss or in gain,
The blood flows from Calvary to cleanse every stain.

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