A Love, Hate Relationship
I’ve never been through physical therapy, but I’ve heard stories that it can be pretty brutal. The physical therapist is trying to help you recover from an injury or surgery, so you can be fully functioning again. What that requires is pain and pushing your body beyond what you thought possible.
I can only imagine that you develop a love, hate relationship with the physical therapist. You love the fact that they push you to help you improve and recover quickly, but you also hate them when they push you beyond your breaking point and the pain sets in.
I don’t know about you, but I have a love, hate relationship with my stationary bike
I love how I feel after I finish a 30-minute workout, but I hate getting started with that workout
My legs don’t want to peddle at first, but by the time I’m 10 minutes in, I’ve gotten into a rhythm and my body is warmed up and ready to go
I also have a love, hate relationship with food
I love to eat food, but I hate when I eat too much food because I know that I’m going to feel bloated
I also know that when I’m trying to watch how much I’m eating, that I feel defeated when I overeat
Love, hate relationships
I’m sure that we can all relate to having a love, hate relationship with certain things
Some of us have experienced that relationship with physical therapy, exercise, and food
Perhaps others of us don’t struggle with any of those things, but we do struggle in other areas
We’re going to see today that the people of Jerusalem had a love, hate relationship with Jesus. Some people loved Him and others hated Him. The message that Jesus shared was what caused the world to hate Him. He testified that what the world was doing was evil. The world did not hate Jesus’ brothers, because they were part of the world – they did not believe in Jesus, yet! We have to ask ourselves this question today . . .
BIG IDEA – Am I loved or hated by the world?
We strive so hard to be loved by the world (other students, our family members, neighbors, coworkers, bosses, social media followers, even strangers, etc.). We are driven by the number of likes or followers on our social media accounts. We may be driven by how many people look up to us as a mentor, trusted authority, or leader. As followers of Jesus Christ, we should expect to be hated by the world. “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” (John 15:18-19)
GOD (John 7:1-13)
Temptation (vv. 1-5)
John uses the phrase “after this” to transition us to another episode in Jesus’ ministry
We know that he referenced the Jewish Passover in John 6:4
He now references the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles
This feast was six months after Passover, which would also mean it was six months after the feeding of the 5,000 and the bread of life discourse
It lasted for seven days
The Feast of Tabernacles took place in September/October and it commemorated the wilderness wanderings of the Israelites
In order to connect with and remember the wilderness wanderings, the people would build makeshift shelters out of light branches and leaves
Those in rural settings would put them up where they lived, perhaps in the field [Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According to John, 305]
Those in an urban environment would place their “booths” on their rooftops or in their courtyards [Carson, 305]
It also marked autumn and the harvest of olives from trees and grapes from the vines (the harvest of grain happened between April and June)
It’s easy for us in Adams County, PA to connect with the Feast of Tabernacles
The first two weekends in October is always the Apple Harvest Festival
If you’ve ever been by the Adams County Fairgrounds during the festival, you would probably agree that it would be easier if you just erected a makeshift shelter out of light branches and leaves, so you wouldn’t have to fight traffic to get to the festival
Perhaps you’re one of those seasoned attenders who knows that it’s best to park in one of the small towns around the area and catch a shuttle bus to the fairgrounds
Other people just avoid the fairgrounds and surrounding roads during the Apple Harvest Festival
Jesus wasn’t avoiding Judea because of the crowds or because the Feast of Tabernacles was taking place
Reason to remain in Galilee
As a Jewish male, there were three feasts that you were required to attend every year, and the Feast of Tabernacles was one of them
John gives us the reason why Jesus continued to minister in Galilee and purposely stayed away from Judea, specifically Jerusalem
The Jews were waiting to take His life
They weren’t happy with His teachings about being one with God, coming down from heaven, being the only way to God and heaven, and how they needed to eat His flesh and drink His blood
Now that John has set the stage for us, he begins to explain, what I’ve entitled this point, “Temptation”
Who were these brothers?
These would have been Jesus’, younger, half-brothers
Their parents would have been Mary and Joseph
These would have been brothers from another Father (you thought I was going to say Mother, didn’t you?)
Go to Judea
They were challenging Jesus to go Judea (Jerusalem) so that His disciples could see the miracles He did
Jesus’ brothers were probably aware of the mass exodus of His disciples, that we saw at the end of chapter 6, and perhaps they thought if Jesus went to Judea He could somehow salvage His ministry by doing miracles there [Carson, 306]
Also, Jerusalem would have been bustling at this point, since the Feast of Tabernacles was the most popular feast of the year and Jesus could perform miracles in front of larger crowds and word would spread quickly about Him
Culture of shame and honor
“In a culture where shame and honor were extremely important ingredients for societal standing, the desire on the part of the brothers to force Jesus into taking a stance is quite understandable.” [Borchert, The New American Commentary, John 1-11, 280]
If Jesus’ brothers were aware of the large number of disciples who had turned away from Jesus and His teachings, then Jesus would need to do something on a large scale to restore His honor in the region
The brothers were playing into the human condition of wanting to be known, seen, and valued
Public figures do things publicly
YouTube and other social media outlets
From my humble observations, most famous YouTubers start out doing something unique to them, but eventually they all start doing the same challenges
My guess is that they run out of ideas for their followers, or the thing that made them unique at the beginning isn’t so unique anymore
One hit wonders
For those of us that grew up before the social media craze, we remember certain musicians who had a song that shot up the charts quickly
Everyone knew the tune and lyrics to the song
Once the song was no longer popular, and several years went by, we would start wondering what ever happened to that musician
In some cases, they left the music industry and got another job, because none of the other songs they wrote or sang became popular
To be loved by the world means we have to do things out in public and not just in private
Amazingly, some celebrities lament the fact that they can no longer casually walk around in public without being noticed
Some of them probably wish for the days when they were not popular
Jesus’ brothers believe He needs to do His miracles in a very public way at a location that is central to the largest religious group of the day, the Jews
“If Jesus is interested in religious prominence, his brothers reason, sooner or later he must prove the master of Jerusalem.” [Carson, 306]
The pattern has not changed since the 1st Century – if you want to make it politically, you have to be known by your constituency – you have to be in the public eye
We know that eventually Jesus does make Himself known to the world, but that was not God’s plan for the Feast of Tabernacles
PRINCIPLE #1 – God’s plan is perfect.
God was working out His perfect plan to redeem the world
His plan did not include Jesus showing Himself to the world at the Feast of Tabernacles
His plan was to wait six more months for Passover to come again
That way John the Baptist’s words about Jesus would carry greater significance, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29b)
Jesus would be the perfect, one-for-all, sacrificial Lamb
We see the motivation behind why Jesus’ brothers encourage Him to show Himself to the world
They did not believe in Him
Can you imagine what it must have been like to grow up as the younger siblings of Jesus
He never mistreated them
He never hurt them
He probably looked after them
He never called them names
Why wouldn’t you believe in someone who always did everything right?
Translate that to our own lives today and we know why they didn’t believe in Him
It’s difficult to grow up under the shadow of another sibling who seems to do everything right
Unfortunately, that’s normally a misconception, because they don’t always do everything right – they’re just good at hiding what they are doing wrong
Mark 6:4, Jesus said to them, “Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor.”
His brother’s unbelief was not a lifelong condition
We know that Jude eventually believed in Jesus, because he authored the book of the Bible that bears his name
James also believed and wrote the book of James and was eventually the leader of the Christian church in Jerusalem
Since Jesus’ brothers didn’t believe in Him, it was difficult for them to understand God’s perfect plan and His perfect timing
Wrong Time – Publicly (vv. 6-9)
Jesus explains that the right time for Him has not yet come
When we talked about God’s perfect plan, we saw that His timing would be six months later, during Passover
PRINCIPLE #2 – God’s timing is perfect.
God had the timing of His redemption plan all laid out
He knew exactly when Jesus needed to enter Jerusalem
God also knew all that Jesus needed to do over the next six months to prepare for His passion
We see just a glimpse of some of those things in John 7-13 (forgive an adulterous woman, teach about being the light of the world and the coming judgment, heal a blind mind and teach about blindness, raise Lazarus from the dead, be anointed with perfume, and ride triumphantly into Jerusalem on a donkey)
Certainly, there were many more things that Jesus did and taught during that six-month period that are not recorded in John’s Gospel
Galatians 4:4-5, But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.
God’s timing to send Jesus into the world was perfect!
He knew that over 2,000 years ago was the perfect time
He knew that 30-33 years after His birth would be the perfect time for Jesus to start ministering in the region
He knew that 3 to 3 ½ years later would be the perfect time for Jesus to die on the cross to take our punishment for sin
Romans 5:6-8, You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Sinner – that’s the condition of every human being born into this world (Rom. 3:23) and a Holy and Just God has to punish sin (Rom. 6:23)
Instead of having every human being take their own punishment for sin, God provided His Son, Jesus, as the perfect, once-for-all sacrifice for our sins (1 Cor. 15:3-4)
If God had not fulfilled His perfect plan at the perfect time, we would all be responsible for the punishment of our own sins, which is eternal separation from God in hell
We have to repent of our sins and turn to God for His perfect plan of redemption
[Parachute illustration from Living Waters Ministry]
John 1:12-13, Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
My Next Step Today Is To: Repent of my sins, receive Jesus, and believe in His name, so I can be part of God’s family.
Jesus tells them why He cannot go up for the Feast of Tabernacles
Reason why Jesus had to wait
The Jews in Judea were waiting to take His life (Jn. 7:1)
The Jews hated Him, but we also know that the world hates Him
In the context of this story, we know that the Jewish religious leaders and other Jews did not like His teachings
In the greater context we know that the world hates Jesus and what He stands for
Jesus’ testimony is that what the world does is evil
No one likes to be told that what they are doing is evil or wrong
“The world always hates to have its evil exposed, to be convicted of its sin.” [Carson, 308]
Jesus’ life and testimony causes human beings to feel guilty about their sins
Because we are created in God’s image, He has written the requirements of His law on our hearts
Romans 2:14-15, (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.)
We know what is right and wrong whether or not we have every been introduced to the Ten Commandments or the other 600 commands found in Scripture – it’s a part of every human being’s make-up/DNA
While the world hates Jesus, it does not hate His brothers
Jesus states that any time is right for His brothers
The Jews are not waiting to kill them
They can go to Jerusalem (Judea) anytime they want without fear of being arrested, beaten, and killed
The world cannot hate you
The reason the world cannot hate them is because they don’t believe in Jesus and are still part of the world
John 15:19, If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.
Am I loved or hated by the world?
This is an important question that each one of us needs to wrestle with
Jesus’ brothers did not believe in Him
They had no mission from God, like Jesus did
As followers of Jesus Christ, we have a mission from God, to make disciples (Matt. 28:18-20)
When we are truly on mission, then the world is going to hate us, because sharing the Gospel exposes their sin and their faulty beliefs about how to get to heaven
The Good Person Test asks the question, “Are you a good person?” and most people respond, “Yes.”
Can I ask you a couple of questions to see if you are a good person by God’s standard?
Have you ever lied? What does that make you? (a liar)
Have you ever stolen anything that doesn’t belong to you, no matter how small? What does that make you? (a thief)
Have you ever hated someone in your heart? What does that make you? (a murdered)
Have you ever looked at another person with lust? What does that make you? (an adulterer)
By our own admission, we are lying, thieving, murdering, adulterers at heart
When you stand before a Holy and Just God will you be innocent or guilty? (guilty)
Sharing the Gospel will cause the world to hate us, because they hated Jesus first
To be loved by the world means that they don’t see us as any different from them
If they see us lying, hating others, gossiping, cheating, stealing, becoming drunk, taking the Lord’s name in vain, not honoring our parents, etc., they aren’t going to see the need to respond to the Gospel
But if they see us pursuing holiness, speaking words of encouragement, revering the Lord’s name, speaking the truth, loving others, living honestly, honoring our parents, studying God’s Word, praying, and much more, then they may turn to God in repentance and believe in Jesus
My Next Step Today Is To: Determine if I am loved or hated by the world and make any changes, so I can identify with Jesus as being hated by the world.
This may mean being bold for Jesus at school, work, and our neighborhoods
It may mean persecution by our family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors
It could result in the loss of relationships with family members, friends, and coworkers
It some cases it could mean the loss of our job
God is faithful!
Jesus’ brothers were loved by the world at this point, but as I mentioned earlier, some of them eventually became His followers, His disciples and were hated by the world
Jesus stayed in Galilee while His brothers went to the Feast of Tabernacles, because His time had not yet come
Right Time – Privately (vv. 10-13)
The “yet” in verse 6 lets us know that Jesus was probably still going to the Feast of Tabernacles, but not in the way His brothers wanted Him to go
After His brothers left, He also went up, but did it privately
He wasn’t riding in on a white horse
He wasn’t performing miracles like a magic show
He quietly went up to observe this very important Feast
The Jews were watching for Him
God is all-knowing, so His plans and timing are perfect
He knew that Jesus could not go to Jerusalem publicly, at this time, because the Jews were looking for Him
They wanted to arrest Him and put Him to death
The crowd was divided
PRINCIPLE #3 – Jesus’ message of truth, divides.
Some said He was a good man
We don’t from the text if these individuals believed in Jesus and were His disciples
They simply could have viewed Him as a good person, a good teacher, but not the Son of God, their Savior, or the Messiah
They were perhaps open and receptive to Jesus’ teaching
Others said He was a deceiver
This was a serious accusation in the 1st Century
“According to Jewish law, the punishment for leading people astray was stoning, further distinguishing between those who mislead an individual and those who lead an entire town astray.” [Köstenberger, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, John, 232]
“As it is in Jerusalem, so today audiences will be divided. Some appear open and receptive, others appear cynical and hostile.” [Burge, The NIV Application Commentary, John, 231]
Am I loved or hated by the world?
Whether they thought Jesus was a good man or a deceiver, neither group was willing to say anything publicly
Fear of the Jews
Both groups were afraid of the Jewish religious leaders in Jerusalem
That tells us something about their leadership – they were probably hard and harsh
Those who thought Jesus was a good man would not risk saying that publicly, because they knew how the Jews would react
We can be the same way today
Our religious freedoms are under attack
“New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, himself not a Christian, described his concern about increasing hatred toward Christians in the leading edges of society, writing, ‘In liberal circles, evangelicals constitute one of the few groups that it’s safe to mock openly.’” [Henderson, Old Paths New Power, 25]
We live in fear of saying anything about Jesus at school or work because we will be ridiculed and persecuted
We may fear losing our job if we say anything about our faith, and yet we are supposed to have freedom of religion and speech
We have to be willing to share openly about Jesus, no matter the cost
We have to ask ourselves the question, am I loved or hated by the world? (That will determine what steps we need to take as a follower of Jesus Christ)
We need to boldly proclaim the truths of the Gospel, without fear, no matter what others may think
I am sick of you, and it's time we broke up. I know we've broken up and gotten back together many times, but seriously, Fear-Of-What-Others-Think, this is it. We're breaking up.
I'm tired of overthinking my status updates on Facebook, trying to sound more clever, funny, and important. I'm sick of feeling anxious about what I say or do in public, especially around people I don't know that well, all in the hope that they'll like me, accept me, praise me. I run around all day feeling like a Golden Retriever with a full bladder: Like me! Like me! Like me!
Because of you, I go through my day with a cloud of shame hanging over my head, and I never stop acting. The spotlight's always on, and I'm center stage, and I'd better keep dancing, posturing, mugging, or else the spotlight will move, and I'll dissolve into a little, meaningless puddle on the ground, just like that witch in The Wizard of Oz. I can never live up to the expectations of my imaginary audience, the one that lives only in my head but whose collective voice is louder than any other voice in the universe.
And all of this is especially evil because if I really stop and think about it, and let things go quiet and listen patiently for the voice of the God who made me and the Savior who died for me, in his eyes, it turns out I'm actually—profoundly—precious, lovable, worthy, valuable, and even just a little ghetto-fabulous. When I find my true identity in Christ, then you turn back into the tiny, yapping little dog that you are.
So eat it, Fear-Of-What-Others-Think. You and I are done. And no, I'm not interested in "talking it through." I'm running, jumping, laughing you out of my life, once and for all. Or at least, that's what I really, really want, God help me.”
Jessie Rice, "An Open Letter to My Fear of What Others Think," Church of Facebook blog (11-23-11).