Believe

Who’s Your Daddy?

(John 8:31-47)

 

INTRODUCTION

“A huge billboard glared its message through the windshield of my car twice a day for years. ​​ I passed it going to and from my office located just east of downtown Dallas. ​​ The billboard rose high above Interstate 30 and contains a question and a phone number: ‘WHO’S THE FATHER? ​​ Call 1-800-DNA-EXAM.’

 

What a commentary on our times! ​​ Children born out of wedlock, mothers wondering who among their sexual partners might have fathered a particular child.”

 

[Gangel, Holman New Testament Commentary, John, 170].

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Mistaken for someone else

        • Calling for support

          • Part of serving with Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF), meant we had to raise our own financial support

          • We started the process by creating a list of people we knew from every place we ever lived, which included Pennsylvania for me

            • We added people from all over the country to our list and then prioritized them into A, B, and C lists

            • I had added certain people to our list that attended Prince Street UB Church while my father pastored there

          • The second step was to send letters out to the people on the A list

          • The final step was to call or visit those individuals who had received the letter to share with them about the ministry and to ask them to pray for us and potentially support us financially

            • As we began making phone calls, I called one of the families from Prince Street

            • They initially thought it was my father who was calling them

          • I guess I sound a lot like my father

          • There are certain attributes and features that let you know that I am a product of my father and mother

        • I have been mistaken for my cousin, Scott Bumbaugh, on my mother’s side of the family (again the family resemblance is there)

 

  • WE

    • Have you been mistaken for a family member?

        • Perhaps it was your voice

        • Maybe it was your build and features

        • It could even be your gate when you walk or certain mannerisms

        • Sometimes it can even be words you say or jokes you tell (repeat)

 

Jesus is still teaching in the temple courts and He is telling the crowd about God’s true children. ​​ The believing Jews think they know what makes them God’s true children, but Jesus refutes all of their claims. ​​ As we’ll see, Jesus explains that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – Our actions and words prove who our father is.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (John 8:31-47)

    • Abraham’s descendants (vv. 31-38)

        • Principle (vv. 31-32)

          • PRINCIPLE #1 – God is pleased when His people hold to Jesus’ teachings and are true disciples.

            • What does it mean for us to “hold to” Jesus’ teachings?

              • It means to abide, continue, or remain in God’s Word [Borchert, New American Commentary, John 1-11, 303]

              • It means that we hang in there for a lifetime and not just a season or only when things are good [parable of the four soils (hard, rocky, thorns, good), Matt. 13:1-23]

              • It means accepting the good with the bad

              • “In short, perseverance is the mark of true faith, of real disciples. ​​ A genuine believer remains in Jesus’ ‘word’ (logos), his teaching (cf. notes on 1:1): i.e. such a person obeys it, seeks to understand it better, and finds it more precious, more controlling, precisely when other forces flatly oppose it.” ​​ [Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According to John, 348]

              • “To abide in the Bible means to hold on to the teachings of Christ and never let go. ​​ It means the Bible so fills us up that we can barely contain it. ​​ It means we’re willing to let the Bible dominate us. ​​ It means every area of our lives is being brought under the control of the Word of God. ​​ Every thought, deed, and action seeks conformity to the Scriptures. ​​ It means even when we don’t like something in the Bible, we still obey, asking God to change our hearts so the truth of the Bible will find a warm and friendly reception in us.” ​​ [Carter & Wredberg, Christ-Centered Exposition: ​​ Exalting Jesus in John, 195]

            • This is what it looks like to be a true disciple

              • Is this how we view God’s Word?

                • Is it precious to us?

                • Do we want to understand it better?

                • Do we want every area of our lives to come under its control?

                • If we were truly honest with ourselves, we would probably answer “No” to those questions

              • So, we have to ask ourselves, “Am I a true disciple of Jesus, based on abiding/holding to His teachings?”

                • If not, what do I need to do to become a true disciple?

                • Do I need to place a higher value on God’s Word?

                • Do I need to seek to understand it better, and if so, what do I need to sacrifice in order to spend more time studying it (either on my own with a group of other believers)?

                • What areas of my life do I need to place under the control of God’s Word?

              • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Make the necessary changes in my life to become a true disciple of Jesus.

          • Knowing the truth

            • Imagine how we’ll be transformed when we abide in God’s Word

            • Jesus makes it clear that we will know the truth

              • As followers of Jesus Christ, we have the Holy Spirit living within us to help us to understand the truths of God’s Word

              • John 16:13, But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. ​​ He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.

              • 1 Corinthians 2:12-14, We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. ​​ This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. ​​ The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.

              • We can know and understand the truths of God’s Word, because we have the Spirit of God living in us

              • And that truth will set us free!

            • Have you experienced that?

              • We see it in new believers all the time

              • There’s a joy that’s unexplainable

              • Family members wonder what happened to their spouse, father, mother, child, sibling, grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin, etc.

                • Anger is gone, abuse is gone

                • Love is expressed, forgiveness is sought, care and concern are evident

              • Coworkers may see the transformation that has taken place in us

                • We are no longer critical of the boss or company, no longer participating in gossip, no longer using foul language or coarse joking, etc.

                • We become someone who is trustworthy, caring, diligent, hardworking, etc.

              • Our neighbors recognize the change

                • There is no longer a rift between us

                • We begin to look out for and help them

                • We may even invite them over for a meal

                • We may invite them to church

              • Our actions and words prove who our father is.

              • There is freedom in being set free from the bondage of sin

                • When sin has control of our lives, we don’t even recognize that we are in bondage to it, and not really free

                • “The worst bondage is the kind that the prisoner himself does not recognize. ​​ He thinks he is free, yet he is really a slave.” ​​ [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, New Testament, Vol. 1, 323]

                • Many people think they have to give up their freedoms to become a disciple of Jesus

                • Yet when they finally believe in Him, and truly become His disciple, they realize what Jesus says is true – you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free

          • It should come as no surprise that the believing Jews misunderstood what Jesus was trying to say, because it happened before

        • Jews – “We are free!” (v. 33)

          • The Jews were confident in their heritage

            • They could trace their family tree all the way back to Abraham

            • As Abraham’s descendants they were “free” from concern about their eternity

            • They were “guaranteed” entrance into heaven

            • From a spiritual perspective they had never been slaves of anyone

            • NOTE – from a physical perspective they had been slaves in Egypt, had been under the rule of seven other nations while in the Promised Land, and they were currently under Roman rule in the 1st Century – so they’re not trying to imply that they had never been enslaved physically – they knew their history

          • They didn’t understand why Jesus would say they needed to be set free, by the truth He was sharing with them

        • Jesus – “You are slaves!” (vv. 34-38)

          • Jesus needed them to understand that their heritage would not guarantee them entrance into heaven

          • Slaves to sin

            • Everyone who sins is a slave to sin

            • Romans 3:10-12, As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. ​​ All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”

            • We are all slaves to sin, because we have all sinned

            • While Jesus recognizes their heritage from Abraham, He also points out their sin – you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word

            • They refused to believe the truths that Jesus was sharing with them from His Father – Jesus was telling them what He had seen and learned while He was with God in heaven

            • They were slaves to sin, which meant they did not have a permanent place in God’s family – they were not guaranteed salvation or heaven

            • Romans 6:23, For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

              • Through Jesus, God is saving us from eternal separation from Him

              • Eternal separation means hell, not heaven

              • There is no biblical backing for universalism (that God will allow everyone into heaven)

          • They had to understand their need before they could understand the importance of the solution to their need

            • While slaves could be bought and sold between various families, a son belongs to his family forever

            • The Son mentioned here is Jesus and if He sets us free, we will be free indeed

              • Jesus came from heaven to earth, was born as a baby, grew into a man, ministered for 3 years, and then willingly gave His life on the cross to take our punishment for sin

              • He is the perfect Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29)

              • He fulfilled God’s standard for a once-for-all perfect sacrifice

              • 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.

              • PRINCIPLE #2 – Jesus is the only One who can set us free from the slavery to sin.

              • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Receive Jesus into my life, believe in His perfect sacrifice for me on the cross, and hold to His teachings, so I can be a true disciple and part of God’s family.

        • While the Jews thought they were already free from slavery to sin, Jesus showed them that they were not

        • In fact, they were listening to a different father, not God the Father

    • Abraham’s children (vv. 39-41a)

        • Jews – “We’re Abraham’s children!”

          • The Jews were starting to understand what Jesus was saying, spiritually

            • They were not guaranteed salvation just because they could trace their family tree back to Abraham

            • But, they still believed that they were going to heaven, because Abraham was their father

            • “It is not mere repetition of a biological fact. ​​ The Jews are advancing the argument by saying, in effect, that even in the moral and ethical realm, they measure up well enough to be considered the descendants of Abraham.” ​​ [Carson, 351]

          • Jesus basically says to them, “your actions don’t match up with your claim that Abraham is your father.”

        • Jesus – “No, your father is not Abraham.”

          • PRINCIPLE #3 – Physical heritage does not guarantee spiritual heritage.

          • Our actions and words prove who our father is.

          • The actions of the Jews proved that Abraham was not their father

            • Jesus says, if Abraham was their father, they would be doing the things that Abraham did

            • So, what did Abraham do?

              • He “welcomed divine messengers with eager hospitality” (Gen. 18:1-8) [Köstenberger, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, John, 264]

              • He “displayed obedience to God (Gen. 12:1-9; 15:1-6; 22:1-19) [Köstenberger, 264]

              • Read Hebrews 11:8-12

            • What were the Jews doing?

              • They were not welcoming Jesus as God’s divine messenger

              • They were not being obedience to God’s Word, because they were not holding to Jesus’ teachings

              • They were determined to kill Jesus, even when He had shared truths, He’d heard from God

            • Jesus says that the Jews were doing the things their own father does

              • Are we doing the things Abraham did or are we doing the things the Jews did?

              • Have we welcomed Jesus as God’s divine messenger or have we rejected Him and the truths from God?

              • Have we displayed obedience to God’s leading, with faith or with doubt?

              • Are we trusting God to fulfill His promises to us or are we pushing ahead in our own strength, timing, and understanding?

              • Are we holding to Jesus’ teachings, so we can know the truth and be set free?

            • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Welcome Jesus into my life, display obedience to God, and trust Him by faith to lead, guide, and provide for me.

        • The Jews didn’t want to be considered illegitimate children, now that they couldn’t rely on their connection to Abraham for salvation, either physically or spiritually

    • God’s children (vv. 41b-47)

        • Jews – “God is our Father!”

          • I guess their logic led them to the conclusion that if they couldn’t rely on their connection to Abraham they would move up the line to God

          • That led them to claiming that the only Father they had was God himself

          • That’s where their allegiance should have started, to begin with, and yet Jesus again refutes their claim

          • Their actions and words prove that God was not their Father

        • Jesus – “The devil is your Father!”

          • God is not their Father and here’s why . . .

            • If God was their Father, they would love Jesus (v. 42)

              • They would recognize Him as God’s divine messenger, sent from God, and not sharing His own ideas and truths

              • They would hold to His teachings and allow God’s Word to control every area of their lives

            • If God was their Father, they would hear what God says (v. 47), but they don’t hear what He says, because they don’t belong to Him

            • They belong to someone else

          • The devil is their father and here’s why . . .

            • They don’t understand Jesus’ language (v. 43)

              • It’s not clear to them

              • They aren’t able to hear what He says

              • 1 Corinthians 2:14, The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.

            • They don’t believe that Jesus is telling the truth (vv. 45-46)

            • They are doing the things that the devil does

              • The devil is a murderer

                • Twice in this section of scripture Jesus says that the Jews are trying to kill Him

                • We know that eventually they accomplish their goal, and yet it wasn’t really their goal, but God’s fulfillment of His redemption plan

              • The devil is a liar

                • He started this all the way back with Adam and Eve by twisting God’s words and creating doubt in their minds

                • He took some truth and mixed it with a little bit of untruth, which made it a lie

                • The Pharisees had to hire men to give false testimony about Jesus in an attempt to create grounds to have Him put to death

                • Jesus asks the Jews here if any of them could prove Him guilty of sin? (they couldn’t and neither could the men who gave false testimony at His trial)

          • Jesus made it clear that Abraham was not their father and neither was God – they were following their true father, the devil

 

  • YOU

    • Who’s your daddy?

        • It’s not determined by a DNA test

        • Our actions and words prove who our father is.

          • If you’re holding to Jesus teachings and doing what Abraham did, then your Father is God

          • If you’re rejecting Jesus and hurting others through your words (lying, gossiping, etc.) and actions (cheating, hitting, hating, etc.), then your father is the devil

 

  • WE

    • We can live our entire lives believing that our heritage will somehow get us to heaven, but that is simply not true

    • We have to have a personal relationship with Jesus and hold to His teachings in order to be a true disciple

 

CONCLUSION

“I will never forget a ministry trip to southern Germany after my sophomore year in college. ​​ We conducted tent campaigns all over Bavaria, three services a day, including an evangelistic rally each evening. ​​ Sometimes we would stay in a town for a week, sometimes two weeks. ​​ In Hassloch we found our most productive ministry of the summer. ​​ For two weeks we proclaimed God’s truth throughout the town and on the closing Sunday held a testimony rally.

 

My host for the two weeks, a quiet farmer, waited in a long line of local people whose testimonies for Christ lasted well over three hours that Sunday afternoon. ​​ When he approached the microphone he said quite simply, ‘You people know me. ​​ I have lived in this town all my life. ​​ You know that I have been a faithful member of our church and I’ve always believed that would take me to heaven and grant me favor with God. ​​ But last week I understood the gospel for the first time and I know that I can only go to heaven because Jesus died for me, and I trust his death to give me eternal life. ​​ So today I stand before you as a real Christian for the first time in my life.

 

The truth will set you free. ​​ This was true when Jesus first proclaimed those words, and it was true nearly fifty years ago in Germany. ​​ And the truth still sets people free today – free from faith in relationships, faith in religion, and faith in their own righteousness.”

 

[Gangel, 169].

10

 

LOSING MY RELIGION

Religion is a system of beliefs or a code of moral conduct that qualifies or disqualifies a person based on their adherence and obedience to certain codes, rules, laws, traditions, or the performance of required acts.

In most religions what qualifies or disqualifies a person is being in a right standing with whatever “god” that religion believes in. Usually, the way to be in a right standing with that god is to earn your way by doing good deeds. ​​ You must earn the right to be reconciled with that god and what you do in this life determines your eternal destiny. ​​ It is purely based on works.  ​​ ​​​​ 

Christianity has been described this way: “The difference between Christianity and every other faith in the world is that all other religions are about man trying to reach up to God. ​​ Christianity is about God reaching down to man.” Christianity is completely different from religion in that it is based on grace.

Religion, almost universally, is enforced by those in power in an attempt to maintain, increase, or abuse their power over others. ​​ Religion is the creation of man and is not the intention or design of God. ​​ 

A modern day example (taken from the movie “Footloose”, starring Kevin Bacon) is a preacher who believes that dancing leads to promiscuity and destructive behavior. The Bible does not speak against dancing, but He uses or abuses his influence and his position of authority to convince his congregation that dancing is evil and forbids it. ​​ He sets up rules that are not in the Bible and adds additional beliefs that Jesus never endorsed. ​​ He is trying to control the people, using their trust of his authority to force them to believe his version of the truth.

This is still common today. People in churches add “requirements” to being a Christian. ​​ Some examples are being told to not drink alcohol, to not listen to certain types of music, insisting that church meet on certain days, only certain forms of music can be used in church, reciting ritualistic prayers, eating certain foods, performing certain rituals, salvation can’t be attained unless you belong to a certain denomination, or unless you get baptized, and being saved is conditional upon attending church or church membership.

We know that while Jesus was on the earth, religion was rampant. There was a group of corrupt religious leaders called the Pharisees. They had taken the Torah, the Word of God, passed down from Moses and the prophets, and had written a commentary on it interpreting what those scriptures said. This interpretation was called the Talmud. ​​ They then wrote another commentary on that commentary called the “Mishnah”. ​​ The Mishnah was a list of hundreds upon hundreds of rules that the people had to obey in order to be in a right relationship with God. ​​ These rules were created by man and had little basis in the actual scriptures.

The Pharisees used the people’s love for God (or fear of God) to control them, to limit their freedom, and to empty them of the relationship with God that was intended. ​​ When you practice religion, your relationship with God is degraded to a mathematical formula. ​​ Do this, don’t do that, and you are right in the eyes of God. ​​ It’s no wonder that Jesus and the Pharisees were at odds most of the time and that they were trying to arrest him or just outright kill him. Jesus was pretty much taking the Pharisees reason for being and telling the people they didn’t need to worry about all that.

This passage in chapter 8 verses 21-30 warns the custodians of tradition, the Pharisees, that their defense of these spiritual habits and rituals will be their undoing. This morning, we will see again that Jesus tells the Pharisees and the Jews who were there that he is going away and where he is going they cannot come because they will die in their sin. We will unpack the four reasons why Jesus said that they would die in their sin and those four reasons should give us caution this morning, as well, so we do not fall into the same religious trap that the Pharisees fell into in the first century.

I found this story that I think relates to this idea of religion pretty well. There once was a group of people who were going on a long journey. As they were going along their way they came across a sign pointing them to their destination. The signpost was there to convey them to their destination but instead they stop at the signpost and create a life for themselves under its painted words. They build a civilization there, celebrating the signpost and telling stories of how they arrived at the marker. Rituals evolve and songs are written. Books are published and liturgies follow. A few travel on and return, confirming that the sign does indeed lead to the place promised. But the second and third generation have built a life around the signpost and have forgotten the meaning and the reason for the journey. Their lore is built on stories of past travel, not on stories of arriving at the destination or on the prophetic call to get on with the journey themselves.

This is what the Pharisees in Jesus’ time had done. They knew that the destination was a right relationship with God the Father. God had given them the Ten Commandments to guide their lives in community together. If they kept the Ten Commandments they would be in a right relationship with God and with each other. The Ten Commandments was a kind of signpost that was to direct the people into a right relationship with God.

Somewhere along the line, the Pharisees made it all about the signpost (the Ten Commandments). By interpreting the commandments into thousands of rules to follow the common person was never able to obey every rule and regulation put forth by the Pharisees. That meant they were in a perpetual state of uncleanness meaning they were considered sinners and could not be in a right relationship with God. The Pharisees then flaunted that over the people and they believed they were the only ones in a right relationship with God. Worse than that though was that their salvation was all about following the rules they had set up. And because of that they missed that Jesus was the Messiah. They missed that it was about a relationship with him and not about religion.

Again, we do the same in our churches today. We focus on religion to the exclusion of relationship – relationship with God and relationship with each other. We put more emphasis on traditions, rituals and even serving others than we do worshipping Jesus. We need to be careful we don’t fall into the same trap of religion and miss being in relationship with Jesus. We don’t want to hear Jesus say to us, “I am going away and where I am going you can’t follow because you will die in your sin.” Which brings us to the big idea that John wants us to understand this morning: we need to pursue the destination and not stop and celebrate the signpost. Our destination should be a relationship with Jesus and we need to focus on him and not the signpost of religion.

Let’s pray and dedicate ourselves and our worship to the Lord as we prepare to study his Word. Dear Holy God, pour out your Holy Spirit upon us this morning so we can hear from you and understand what it is you want us to glean from your Word. Open our hearts to minds to your Spirit. Help us to put off religion and strive to daily strengthen our relationship with you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

This morning, we are in the book of John chapter 8 starting with verse 21. This is what God’s Word says, 21 Once more Jesus said to them, “I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come.” ​​ 

Jesus reveals that He is "going away". He’s speaking of his impending death, resurrection and ascension. These were all aspects of the promised Messiah that had been revealed in prophecy. The Pharisees were very religious people and experts in all matters concerning the Law. They knew the prophecies concerning the Messiah. They had been looking for the arrival of the Promised One but when the Messiah was right in front of them they missed Him! And because they rejected him as the Messiah, Jesus said that they would continue to look for the Messiah even after he was gone and would end up dying in their sin. Morris says, “To die in one’s sin unrepented and unatoned is the supreme disaster.” And because they would die in their sin they could not go where he was going which was back to his Father in Heaven.

There are many people who will die in their sin because they think they have it all figured out! They don’t need Jesus, they don’t need a Savior. They may be extremely religious people just as the Pharisees were. They have checked off all of the boxes. They have joined a church. They have been baptized. They attend services on a regular basis. They pay their tithes. They say their prayers and read their Bibles. The problem is they have been deceived. They possess religion. They follow tradition. They observe the rituals. They go through the motions. But they have never truly submitted their lives to Christ.

Jesus describes what will happen to these deceived religious people in Matthew 7:22-23. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ If you notice, these are not unbelievers. These are believers and when they come before God they will realize then that it was too late. We need to pursue the destination and not stop and celebrate the signpost.

As I mentioned earlier this passage reveals four ways we can ensure the tragic and eternal death of dying in our sin. The first way is self-righteousness and is found in verse 22. This is what God’s Word says, 22 This made the Jews ask, “Will he kill himself? Is that why he says, ‘Where I go, you cannot come’?”

The response of the Jews was to turn his warning into a joke. “Surely he will not kill himself, will he?” they ask sarcastically. They understood Jesus was speaking about his death. Ironically, those who were plotting to kill Jesus asked if he intended to commit suicide. The Jews abhorred suicide and believed that those who killed themselves would go to the blackest part of hell. Since they assumed they were going to heaven, the Jews mockingly suggested that Jesus must be speaking of killing himself in which case he would surely go to Hell. Strongly confident in their self-righteousness, they were not just deaf to Jesus’ words they mockingly, blashphemously twisted their meaning.

Self-righteousness is a deadly deception and is contrary to genuine salvation. It is the idea that you are good enough for heaven without Jesus. Judaism in Jesus’ day was an intricate legalistic system of salvation by human achievement. They based their salvation on performing good works, observing ceremonies and rituals and above all keeping the law, at least outwardly. The truth that salvation couldn’t be attained through self-righteousness should have come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the OT. Isaiah 64:6 says, “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” The NT also talks about self-righteousness. Matthew 23:28 says, “In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” And Matthew 5:20 says, “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

The Pharisees were trusting in their own works and their own self-righteousness to get them to Heaven. Jesus tells them because of that they would never see heaven. We need to examine ourselves too. Are we trying to get to heaven on our own righteousness? Are we trying to follow all the rules and regulations thinking that’s what will get us there. We need to throw off the mantle of self-righteousness and lean on the righteousness of Jesus Christ who paid the penalty for our sins and calls us to accept him as our Savior. That is what gets us past the signpost of religion to the destination of being in a relationship with Jesus. Jared C. Wilson said, “Conversion to Christ produces true religion. Conversion to religion produces the same old self-righteousness. Which brings us to our first next step on the back of your communication card which is to accept the righteousness of Christ and not rely on my own self-righteousness.

The second way we can ensure dying in our sin is by being worldly. We see this in verse 23. This is what God’s Word says, 23 But he continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.

Jesus points out that their origin like their destination was different from his. They were from below and from the world. The Greek word for world (kosmos) refers to the invisible spiritual system of evil that opposes the kingship of God and is controlled by Satan. The world does not recognize Jesus’ true identity. In sharp contrast Jesus is “from above” and “not of this world.” ​​ 

The Pharisees were of this world and focused on it. They indulged in the wickedness, temptations and pleasures of this life. Their attention was concentrated on this world instead of doing God’s will. They wanted the blessings of God without having a relationship with him. As Colossians 3:2 says, God's people are to "set their affection on things above, not on things on the earth". And in I John 2:15, John said, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.”

Jesus gives us an example of loving the world in Luke 14:16-24. He shares a parable of a man who prepared a great feast and invited many people to come. Initially they accepted the invitation but when the meal was ready they began to make excuses. One bought some land and had to go see it. One bought five yoke of oxen and wanted to try them out. One got married and used his wife as an excuse. The three excuses used in this parable, work, possessions and family, are the same three excuses we use today. We put work, material goods and our family first and never consider eternal things. Maybe you are trying to climb the corporate ladder or trying to find the perfect wife or the perfect husband or trying to build the biggest house or buy the nicest car. Your family has to have the finest, nicest and best things available. If so, maybe you are focused on the world and not on the things of God.

Consider the question Jesus posed in Matthew 16:26. “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” And in Matthew 6:33 Jesus says, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Work, possessions and family are not evil in themselves. But if our priorities aren't in order they could cost us eternally! If we don’t put our relationship with Jesus first those excuses could cause us to die in our sin, miss out on Heaven and cause us to be separated from God for all eternity. These same three excuses can cause us to miss out on the destination because we are too busy celebrating the signpost. That brings us to the second next step on the back of your communication card which is to put my priorities in the proper order and seek first the kingdom of God.

The third way we can ensure dying in our sin is by unbelief. We see this in verse 24. This is what God’s word says, 24 I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.”

Jesus goes beyond the self-righteousness and the worldliness of the Pharisees to the ultimate issue which was their unbelief. The only way to avoid dying in their sins was to believe in Jesus and who he was. He said that those who reject that he is “I am” will die in their sins. What was Jesus saying here? There may be two reasons that he used the phrase, “I am he.” First, by using “I am” it was a direct claim to full deity. This was the name that God gave Moses in Exodus 3:14 to take back to the Israelites to prove he had come from God. Jesus was applying to himself this name of God that was so sacred that the Jewish people refused to even pronounce it. And the Pharisees were so shocked by Jesus’ use of that name in reference to himself that later in verse 59 they attempted to stone him for blasphemy.

Second, Jesus was claiming total intimacy with the Father and that he was uniquely commissioned to deliver a message of salvation from the one who sent him. We see this in Isaiah 43:10-12. “You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no savior. I have revealed and saved and proclaimed—I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “that I am God.

The point is this. When Jesus said, “if you do not believe that “I am he” he is claiming to be God. But there is more to it than that. Jesus, in using this language in this context, is claiming to be the one that Isaiah spoke of. He is claiming to be the Savior of the World, the Messiah.

To be a Christian we need to believe the full biblical revelation of all Jesus is: that he is eternal, he is the second person of the trinity, he came to this earth as God incarnate, he was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, that his death on the cross is the only sufficient sacrifice for our sins, that he rose from the dead and ascended to the Father in heaven, that he intercedes for us now and he will one day return to take us there. Persistent unwillingness to believe the truth about Jesus precludes the possibility of forgiveness since salvation can only come through faith in him.

Many people today believe that Jesus is just one of many ways to Heaven. Some don't believe in Him at all. Some are trusting in themselves and their own morality. Some have put their trust in men, such as, Joseph Smith, Buddha or Muhammad. Some are still looking for the Messiah to arrive. But one day all will see that Jesus is Lord! Philippians 2:10-11 says, “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Jesus is telling us the same thing He told the Pharisees. We must believe that Jesus is God, that he is the Savior of the world and accept His invitation to salvation. And if you don’t believe you will die in your sins! Maybe you are here this morning and you don’t believe Jesus is the Son of God. Maybe you’re not sold on Jesus being the only way to Heaven. Maybe you are happy celebrating the signpost and not worried about your final destination. The third next step on the back of your communication card may be for you. My next step is to believe that Jesus is who he says he is and accept him as my Lord and Savior.

The final way that we can ensure dying in our sin is by willfully rejecting Jesus. We see this in verses 25-30. This is what God’s Word says, 25 “Who are you?” they asked. “Just what I have been telling you from the beginning,” Jesus replied. 26 “I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is trustworthy, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.” 27 They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father. 28 So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. 29 The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.” 30 Even as he spoke, many believed in him.

The Pharisees were held captive by continuing to willfully reject Jesus. ​​ Their question, “Who are you?” was amazing in light of all the miraculous signs he had performed and the repeated claims he had already made. They may have really meant, “Who are you to tell us we will die in our sins?” The question still reflected their stubborn, willful rejection. Jesus merely replies that he was who he had been claiming to be from the beginning of his ministry. He had nothing more to say to their willful hard-hearted unbelief.

But Jesus did have many things to speak and to judge concerning them. They had been given more than enough revelation to be held responsible; their rejection of him was inexcusable. His judgment of them would be in perfect harmony with the Father’s will for it was the Father who sent him and Jesus spoke only the things he had heard from him.

Incredibly, despite the fact that Jesus had spoken so clearly to them they still did not realize that he was speaking about God. They had no ears to hear because of the deceptive power of their willful ignorance. There was coming a day, however, when the truth of Jesus’ claims would be confirmed. He said, “When you lift up the Son of Man then you will know that I am he.” Jesus’ work on the cross proved that he spoke the things the Father taught him, that the Father sent him and was with him, and that he always did the things that were pleasing to the Father. The cross revealed exactly who Jesus was; that he was the Messiah that they were waiting for. And so compelling was Jesus’ teaching that verse 30 says that many put their faith in him.

D.L. Moody tells of a man who felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit and desired to be saved. But he was afraid that his friends would laugh at him. The spirit was striving with this man. Each night he came back to the revival meetings...for weeks he came. It was as if the man would step to the very threshold of Heaven but then he would hesitate to take the next step. There came a day when the Spirit of God left him... the conviction was gone. Months later Moody went to witness once again to this man. Here is his reply: "Mr. Moody," said he, "I have made up my mind to become a Christian. My mind is fully made up to that, but I won't be one just now. I am going to Michigan to buy a farm and settle down, and then I will become a Christian." Moody pleaded with him to get saved while he had the opportunity. He simply said "not yet, I will risk it". One Thursday, about noon, his wife called for Mr. Moody to come quickly to their home. He was sick and the doctors said there was no hope of a recovery. Moody went in to the man's room and he heard these words - "Mr. Moody, you need not talk to me anymore. It is too late. My heart is as hard as the iron in that stove there. My damnation is sealed, and I shall be in hell in a little while." Moody tried to tell him of Jesus' love and God's forgiveness, but he said, "Mr. Moody, I tell you there is no hope for me." The man lingered until the sun went down. From noon until he died all he was heard to say was, "The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and I am not saved." Hour after hour he would say again those awful words, just before he drew his last breath his wife heard him mutter, "The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and I am not saved." Moody concluded the story this way: He lived a Christless life, he died a Christless death, we wrapped him in a Christless shroud and took him away to a Christless grave. The man died in his sins and ever since has been in a Christless eternity!

There are many people who believe in Jesus, but they refuse to surrender to Him. There are many people who know what the Bible says, but reject Jesus and His offer of salvation. There are people who continue to be blinded by the world no matter what they hear on a Sunday morning or the conviction of the Holy Spirit. They continue to reject a relationship with Jesus and continue to celebrate the signpost. They risk dying in their sins, because their defiant rejection will be rewarded with rejection. That brings us to the last next step on the back of your communication card which is to stop willfully rejecting Jesus and surrender my life to him. ​​ 

In closing, I am going to play a song by Todd Agnew called My Jesus. Please, listen to the words as it plays.

In our scripture this morning, Jesus is confronting “the world” but it is a religious world, a world of unbelief but a religious world with spiritual appetites. The Jews were earnestly seeking the Messiah, praying fervently to God, following the scriptures and worshipping regularly. Those whose hearts were inclined to hear God’s new voice in the world quickly recognized this voice in Jesus and followed him. Those who were entrenched in the traditions of their religious world, whose spiritual passions betrayed them and closed their eyes and ears were unable to find anything redeeming in Jesus’ life work.

What would happen if Jesus walked into our churches, pick up a religious symbol like he did at the Feast of Tabernacles and challenged the symbol’s original meaning. Would we cheer or would we fight. Suddenly we might find ourselves defending “religion” instead of the Christian faith. We might explain that the old meaning, the old songs and the old forms have worked just fine for generations. We might challenge this newcomer and demand if he is really a messenger from God. When he pressed his claims powerfully, we would be forced either to let go of our former position and become a believer or argue and rebel.

This reflex that cannot see God in the prophetic voice of Jesus, that rebels, fights and attacks, is the work of Satan. It is Satan’s work among religious people. It is the reflex to make the human voice preeminent to the voice of God. It is the reflex to see it as an act of devotion and piety to stop anyone who would upset what we had built in God’s name. Can our religion become life under the signpost? Can it simply be a recitation of ancestry and tradition, a defense of all that is holy and good and spiritual but knows little of God. Later on in John 8:47, Jesus says the problem is that his audience “does not hear” any longer. This, he suggests, is evidence that they do not belong to God. Our scripture this morning was a severe call to Judaism that it must repent but it is also a call to repentance for us too, who have taken up the mantle worn by the Pharisees in Jesus’ time. ​​ May we take this call to repentance seriously so we don’t risk dying in our sin and spend eternity separated from God and his son, Jesus.

As the praise team comes to lead us in our final song and the ushers prepare to take up the communication cards, let’s pray:

Heavenly Father, help us to lose our religion. Help us to pursue the destination of a relationship with your son, Jesus. Help us to make it all about you and not ourselves. Help us to rely on your righteousness and not our own. Take us from this place and give us divine appointments to share your love and your gospel to those who need to hear it. Let us do it with a spirit of humility and in an attitude of love and not condemnation. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Believe

In The Light

(John 8:12-20)

 

INTRODUCTION

“While I was ministering at [a church] in Anaheim, we had a blackout during one of our services. An automobile accident knocked out the power line to our building. There were approximately three thousand people in the room and close to a thousand children in the area behind the sanctuary. For a reason I cannot remember, the emergency lights failed, too.

 

Sitting in the front row of the church, I was only a dozen steps from the hallway leading to the children, but the darkness was so overwhelming and disorienting that it was difficult groping my way there.

 

When I finally reached the door that led to a long hallway, I saw that a mother who had a small flashlight on her key chain had beat me to the door and was making her way to her children. Her small light didn't illumine the whole hallway, but it reoriented the whole scary moment for me. Soon others found emergency flashlights in the classrooms, and still others shined their car headlights through the classroom windows. We got all the kids out to safety.

 

After about five or ten minutes I made my way back to the sanctuary. It looked like a 1960s rock concert, as all the baby boomers had gotten out their Bic lighters and were waving them around as if ‘Hey Jude’ was being performed by the Beatles. As funny as that was, what I still remember twenty years later is the enormous power of that mom's flashlight to bring hope and orientation to a seriously unnerving moment.”

 

Todd D. Hunter, Giving Church Another Chance (IVP, 2010), p. 78

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2010/august/5081610.html].

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Dark basement

        • I believe I was in the upper elementary grades when this story happened to me

        • A group of boys from my class were invited to another classmate’s house for his Birthday

        • It was a sleepover party on a Friday night, if I remember correctly

        • After the celebration, we all got ready for bed and set up our sleeping bags on the floor of the finished basement

        • At some point in the middle of the night, I woke up and had to go to the bathroom

          • The bathroom was upstairs

          • As you can imagine, it was completely dark with no lights on anywhere

          • It was like being in a cave or cavern when they turn all the lights off, so you can experience complete darkness

          • I groped around in the darkness and started crawling around on my hands and feet

          • I thought I had found the stairs, but I wasn’t making any progress

          • I had to go to the bathroom so bad at this point

          • I had to regroup and begin feeling for the stairs in a different location

          • I finally found the stairs and the bathroom! ​​ What a relief

        • The next morning when there was light in the basement, I realized that the initial “stairway” I was trying to climb on my hands and knees was stacked firewood beside the fireplace

        • Here’s a couple of life lessons for sleepovers

          • Don’t drink too much before going to bed

          • Make sure to use the bathroom before you go to bed

          • Always take a flashlight with you when you go to a friend’s house for a sleepover

 

  • WE

    • Take a moment to remember a time when you experienced complete darkness

        • How did you feel?

        • How did you cope with it?

 

Imagine for a moment what it would be like if that darkness lasted for a couple of minutes . . . a couple of hours . . . a couple of days . . . a couple of years . . . or for eternity. ​​ We would probably lose our minds. ​​ We want to be able to see what is around us. ​​ We don’t want to continually walk around with our arms outstretched in front of us to protect us from running into something. ​​ While none of us want to do this on a physical level, some of us are fine doing this on a spiritual level. ​​ We are fine walking around in darkness – stumbling around, groping around to find the light. ​​ John shares Jesus’ words about being the light of the world. ​​ Jesus was speaking on a spiritual level. ​​ As we’ll see today . . .

 

BIG IDEA – Jesus brings God’s presence, protection, and guidance.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (John 8:12-20)

    • Proclamation (v. 12, 20)

        • Background

          • Jesus is still in Jerusalem in the temple courts

          • We know this because of verse 20, He spoke these words while teaching in the temple area near the place where the offerings were put.

          • Perhaps the Feast of Tabernacles had ended, but this narrative probably happened while the feast was still taking place

            • Here is why it probably happened during the feast

            • Several weeks ago we learned that during the Feast of Tabernacles there was a water ceremony that the priests did every day and then seven times on the last day of the feast

              • This ceremony marked the beginning of the drought season

              • It also was a reminder of how God provided water from a rock, on two occasions, for the Israelites as they wandered in the wilderness

            • There was another ceremony that took place during this same feast that was centered around light

              • This was the time of year when the autumn equinox happened (night and day are of equal length) [Burge, The NIV Application Commentary, John, 255]

              • It was also a reminder of God’s presence, protection, and guidance while the Israelites wandered in the wilderness

                • God’s presence was evident through the pillar of cloud during the day and the pillar of fire at night

                • God’s protection came when the Israelites were stuck between the Red Sea and the Egyptian army that was pursuing them – the pillar of cloud/fire moved from in front of the Israelites to the rear, and blocked the Egyptian army until the Red Sea was parted

                • God’s guidance happened through the movement of the pillar of cloud/fire

                  • When the pillar moved, the Israelites broke camp and followed it until it stopped

                  • When it stopped, they set up camp until it moved again

              • The light ceremony

                • It took place in the Court of Women

                • [Show the three pictures while talking about the lamps]

                • There were four stands that held four golden bowls – each bowl had four parts to it, making sixteen lamps

                • These golden bowls “were filled with oil and used the worn undergarments of the priests for wicks.” ​​ [Burge, 255]

                • These lamps were lit on the first night of the Feast of Tabernacles

                • It is probable that they were lit every evening instead of burning continuously from the first day to the last day of the feast

                • Just imagine what it must have been like to see these lamps burning at night and illuminating the walls of the temple courts – it must have been magnificent!

                • It was definitely a visual reminder of God’s presence, protection, and guidance for His people

          • We don’t know exactly when Jesus made His proclamation about being the light of the world, but just imagine if He said that right after the priests extinguished the lamps on the last night of the feast – how profound would that have been

        • Salvation

          • Jesus is saying to the crowd, gathered in the Court of Women, “You don’t have to celebrate the light ceremony anymore. ​​ I am with you. ​​ I will protect you. ​​ I will guide you.”

          • Jesus brings God’s presence, protection, and guidance.

          • PRINCIPLE #1 – Jesus is our salvation!

            • The Prophet Isaiah foretold the coming of the Messiah when he said, The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned (Isaiah 9:2)

            • John 3:19-20, This is the verdict: ​​ Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. ​​ Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.

              • We are all born loving the darkness (Read Romans 3:10-12)

              • Romans 3:19-20, Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. ​​ Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.

                • The Ten Commandments were given so that we would be aware of our sin

                • Keeping the Ten Commandments does not make us righteous, because no one can keep all of the Ten Commandments perfectly

                • James tell us that if we keep the whole law and yet stumble at just one point, we’re guilty of breaking all of it (James 2:10)

              • If we die in the state of loving darkness, we will spend eternity in darkness (Rom. 6:23)

                • Our eternal home will be hell

                • That’s what we are being saved from

                • Imagine for a moment that someone comes up to you and tells you that another person has paid your speeding fine of $25,000

                • You would probably tell them that you don’t have a speeding fine of $25,000 (you’re not aware of any violation on your record)

                • Imagine that they came to you and told you that a police officer clocked you going 55 mph in an area designated for a blind children’s convention. ​​ There were ten clear warning signs telling you that the speed limit was 15 mph, but you ignored all the signs and kept going 55 mph. ​​ The penalty for doing that is $25,000

                • You would understand the significance of having someone else pay your penalty when you realize that you are guilty

                • That is what the Ten Commandments do for us – they make us conscious of our sin

                • When we know we have broken God’s law, then we realize and accept the fact that we need a Savior – someone to pay our penalty

              • God knew from the start that human beings would turn away from Him and follow darkness

                • Out of His great love for us, He didn’t turn His back on us and allow us to die in our sins, separated from Him in eternal darkness

                • Instead He fulfilled His plan of redemption and reconciliation by sending Jesus from heaven to earth to die on a cross to take our punishment for sin, to pay our penalty of sin

                • John 3:16-18, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. ​​ For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. ​​ Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

                • That’s what Jesus is saying to the crowd, when He says, whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life

                  • The light of life is eternal life

                  • “If Jesus is the light, walking ‘in the light’ is a description of discipleship (1:7).” ​​ [Burge, 256]

                  • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Believe in Jesus and become His disciple, so I will never have to walk in darkness but will have the light of life (eternal life).

            • When you believe in Jesus and follow Him, you will experience God’s presence, protection, and guidance

              • Presence

                • Deuteronomy 31:8, The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. ​​ Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

                • 1 Corinthians 3:16, Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?

              • Protection

                • Isaiah 41:10, So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. ​​ I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

                • 2 Thessalonians 3:3, But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.

              • Guidance

                • John 16:13, But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. ​​ He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.

                • Proverbs 3:5-6, Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

                • Psalm 32:8, I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel (guide) you and watch over you.

              • You can claim these promises for yourself, every day!

              • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Claim God’s promises, through Jesus, that He will be with me, protect me, and guide me.

          • So, Jesus is sharing the good news of the Gospel with the crowd – He is the light of the world, but not everyone was happy about that

        • The Pharisees were already angry and upset with Jesus, so it didn’t matter what He said or did, they were going to challenge Him

    • Protest (v. 13)

        • The Pharisees challenge the validity of Jesus’ proclamation by saying that He is appearing as His own witness

          • Jesus’ statement, that He is the light of the world, isn’t valid in their reasoning, because He is saying it about Himself

          • He does not have any witnesses to support His claim

          • Unfortunately, the Pharisees have forgotten what Jesus said after healing the lame man at the Pool of Bethesda on the Sabbath

          • Jesus gave the religious leaders not only one witness, but four

            • John the Baptist (John 5:33)

            • His miraculous works (John 5:36)

            • The Father (John 5:37)

            • The Scriptures (John 5:39)

        • It wasn’t going to matter what Jesus said, because the Pharisees were living with self-righteous attitudes that were wrong – they had made up their minds about Jesus

        • In this last section, we see Jesus pleading with the Pharisees to acknowledge and accept His claim to deity – He wants them follow Him, so they won’t walk in darkness

    • Plea (vv. 14-20)

        • Jesus’ deity (v. 14)

          • “Words which in a human being would inevitably look like exaggerated arrogance, can take no other form in the mouth of the eschatological revealer.” ​​ [Schnackenburg cited by Köstenberger, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, John, 255]

            • Jesus is God, which means that He is perfect, without sin

            • His sinlessness is why He was able to take our punishment on the cross, to pay our penalty of sin

            • So, His testimony would have been valid even if there were no other witnesses

          • Jesus knew where He came from and where He was going

            • Jesus was confident in His deity

            • He knew He had come from heaven – from the right hand of God the Father

            • He knew what His mission on earth was – to die on a cross as the perfect Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world

            • He knew that after His perfect sacrifice on the cross He would be buried and God would bring Him back to life as proof that His sacrifice was acceptable and met God’s standard for redemption

            • He also knew that He would return to heaven after providing redemption for humanity

          • The Pharisees did not know where Jesus came from or where He was going

            • It wasn’t that Jesus was hiding His deity from them

            • He had told them multiple times that He was from God the Father

            • The Pharisees had their preconceived ideas of how the Messiah would come and what He would do on the earth

            • Jesus did not fit any of those preconceived ideas

            • Their false ideas about the Messiah and His ministry on earth blinded them to the truth

            • They did not want to believe that Jesus came from heaven, therefore, they definitely wouldn’t believe that He would be returning to heaven

          • The Pharisees were judging based on human standards and not Godly standards or Scriptural standards

        • Judgment (vv. 15-16)

          • Human standards

            • The original Greek can be translated as “according to the flesh”

            • The Pharisees knew that Jesus was from Nazareth in Galilee

              • As we saw in John 7:41 some believed that Jesus was the Christ

              • In verse 42, others disagreed that Jesus was the Christ, because they knew that the Christ would come from David’s family and from Bethlehem

              • As mentioned there, the crowd and the religious leaders were not aware of Jesus’ birthplace – Bethlehem

              • So, the Pharisees are judging from a human standard based on Jesus’ known place of origin – Nazareth in Galilee

            • They are also using the human standard of needing two witnesses

              • “. . . Jesus’ point is the one he will make again here, that his witness is not by himself to himself, but for the Father to the Father, and crucially with the Father.” ​​ [Milne, The Bible Speaks Today, The Message of John, 128]

              • “They see his ‘flesh’, as it were, but never contemplate the possibility that he could be the Word made flesh (1:14).” ​​ [Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According to John, 339]

              • John 1:14, The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. ​​ We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

            • ​​ Since Jesus came from heaven and the Father, He is deity and can judge correctly

          • Judging correctly

            • Jesus states that He doesn’t pass judgment on anyone

              • We know from Scripture that Jesus will be the final judge of humanity (Matthew 25:31-33)

              • We will all stand before Him and give an account of what we did while on earth (Romans 14:12)

              • What Jesus is saying here is that He doesn’t judge anyone by the human standard that the Pharisees were judging Him by

            • PRINCIPLE #2 – God’s judgement is right.

              • Jesus says that if He does judge that His decisions in judging are right

              • He is able to make this statement, because He is not judging in a void

              • He stands with the Father who sent Him

              • God and Jesus are perfect, so they can judge perfectly, righteously

            • Application

              • We are not perfect, so our judgments are not always perfect or righteous

              • We know this is true when some people are falsely accused and convicted

                • Some individuals have maintained their innocence for all the years they’ve been imprisoned

                • DNA evidence has enabled the court system to reverse some convictions that were done incorrectly

              • Only God knows the heart of man, but sometimes we pass judgment on others based on several things

                • Our feelings

                • False information

                • Preconceived ideas that are incorrect

                • Prejudices

                • Personal preferences

                • Human standards

              • Perhaps we’d be better served if we spoke directly with the individual instead of passing judgement

              • It may help us to forgive and extend grace, just like God has done for us

              • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Recognize that I’m judging someone unfairly and imperfectly, and extend grace and forgiveness to them instead.

          • Jesus then expands what He has already told them

        • Witnesses (vv. 17-19)

          • While He is not bound by their human standards of judgement (testimony of two men is valid), He explains that He is still in compliance with that standard

            • He testifies for Himself

            • His other witness if the Father who sent Him – God

          • The Pharisees are struggling with the natural and the supernatural, with the human and divine

            • That’s why they ask Jesus where His father is?

            • Notice that “father” is not capitalized

            • They want to know where Jesus’ earthly, human father is

            • ​​ “In the present instance the Jews, of course, expect witnesses whose statements can be heard and compared with each other, so that it can be determined whether they agree.” ​​ [Köstenberger, 256]

              • It doesn’t matter that Jesus has already called John the Baptist, His works, God, and the Scriptures as His witnesses

              • John would have been the only one who could have physically stood before them

              • Joseph, Mary’s husband, could have stood before them, but His testimony about Jesus would not carry the same weight as His Father, God

            • This simply tells us that the Pharisees are not comprehending who Jesus is – He’s the Messiah

              • Jesus’ response helps us know that He is aware that the Pharisees don’t know or acknowledge Him as the Christ, the Messiah

              • He tells them that they don’t know Him or His Father

              • If they knew Him, they would know His Father, and it wasn’t Joseph

            • Jesus’ is pleading with them to turn away from the darkness and follow Him, as the light of the world

              • If they would accept Him as the Christ (Messiah) and follow Him, they would know God, the Father

              • The sad truth was that they already thought they knew the Father

              • They thought they had God’s presence, protection, and guidance, but they didn’t

              • Jesus brings God’s presence, protection, and guidance.

              • He is the only way for us to not walk in darkness

          • John gives us the location of where Jesus was, in the temple courts, during this exchange with the Pharisees

        • Location and protection (v. 20)

          • He was teaching in the temple area near the place where the offerings were put

            • The offering containers were in the shape of a shofar (a ram’s horn trumpet)

            • There were thirteen of them stationed in the Court of Women (each one was marked with what the offering would be used for in the temple)

            • This is the same place where the ceremony of lights took place

          • We see God’s protection over Jesus again

            • No one seized Jesus, even though they had been looking for Him and challenging Him, so they could find grounds to arrest Him

            • God’s timing for His redemption plan would not be dictated or determined by any one, but Him

 

  • YOU

    • I pray that your desire is to follow Jesus and be His disciple – to walk in the light instead of the darkness

    • “I want to be in the Light
      As You are in the Light
      I want to shine like the stars in the heavens
      Oh, Lord be my Light and be my salvation
      Cause all I want is to be in the Light
      All I want is to be in the Light”

      [In The Light by DC Talk]

 

  • WE

    • Our purpose as disciples of Jesus Christ is to point others to the Light, to Jesus

CONCLUSION

“One weekend, author Paul Tripp gave his teenage son permission to spend the weekend at a friend's house. But during the weekend Paul received a call from the friend's mother, informing him that Paul's son was not at her home. (Her son had felt guilty about covering for Paul's son and confessed to his mom.) After Paul told his wife about their son's deception, Paul said, “Luella could feel my anger, and she said, ‘I think you need to pray.’ I said, ‘I don't think I can pray for him right now.’ She said, ‘I didn't mean for you to pray for him; I think you need to pray for you.’”

 

Paul writes:

 

I went to my bedroom to pray for God's help, and it hit me that, because of his love, God had already begun a work of rescue in my son's life. God was the one who pressed in on the conscience of my son's friend, causing him to confess to his mom. God was the one who gave her the courage to make that difficult call to me. And God was the one giving me time to get a hold of myself before my son came home. Now, rather than wanting to rip into my son, I wanted to be part of what this God of grace was doing in this moment of rebellion, deception, hurt, and disappointment.

 

After giving his son a couple of hours to relax upon his return, Paul asked him if they could talk.

 

"Do you ever think about how much God loves you?" Paul asked his son.

 

"Sometimes," he answered.

 

"Do you ever think how much God's grace operates in your life every day?"

 

His son looked up but didn't speak.

 

"Do you know how much God's grace was working in your life even this weekend?"

 

"Who told you?" his son asked.

Paul said:

 

‘You have lived your life in the light. You've made good choices. You've been an easy son to parent, but this weekend you took a step toward the darkness. You can live in the darkness if you want. You can learn to lie and deceive. You can use your friends as your cover … You can step over God's boundaries. Or you can determine to live in God's light. I'm pleading with you: don't live in the darkness; live in the light.’

 

‘As I turned to walk away,’ Paul wrote, ‘I heard his voice from behind me saying, ‘Dad, don't go.’ As I turned around, with tears in his eyes, he said, ‘Dad, I want to live in the light, but it's so hard. Will you help me?’’”

 

Paul David Tripp, Forever: Why You Can't Live Without It (Zondervan, 2011), pp. 151-153; submitted by Van Morris, Mt. Washington, Kentucky

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2011/october/6102411.html].

13

 

Believe

A Stone’s Throw Away

(John 7:53-8:11)

 

INTRODUCTION

“The movie Les Misérables, based on the novel by Victor Hugo, opens with a vagabond curled up on a stone bench on a desolate French street corner. His bedraggled appearance makes him seem dangerous and causes the townspeople, from whom he sought food and shelter, to snub him. Finally, he slumps over in dejection—until a passerby points to a place where he can find refuge.

 

He goes to the door and knocks. The homeowner, the town's bishop, is startled by the late-night visitation but attentively listens to his story. His name is Jean Valjean, and he reveals that he is a recently released convict and marked by the authorities as dangerous. Even so, the bishop welcomes him into his home and serves him dinner.

 

Later, in the middle of the night, despite the bishop's kindness, Valjean double-crosses him. Valjean remembers the sparkling silver spoon he used to eat his soup at dinner and sneaks to the dining room to steal the bishop's valuable silverware. The clanking of metal arouses the bishop, who rises to inspect the clattering below. When they meet face to face, Valjean strikes the bishop, leaving him unconscious, and escapes with a heavy knapsack of silver.

 

The following morning the bishop's domestic servant laments the loss of her silver, but the bishop seems unperturbed, telling his domestic servant, ‘So we'll use wooden spoons. I don't want to hear anything more about it.’ Moments later, authorities appear at the bishop's manor with the stolen silver and Valjean handcuffed.

 

Looking deeply into the thief's eyes, the bishop says, ‘I'm very angry with you, Jean Valjean.’ Turning toward the authorities, he asks, ‘Didn't he tell you he was our guest?’

 

‘Oh, yes,’ replies the chief authority, ‘after we searched his knapsack and found all this silver. He claimed that you gave it to him.’

 

Stooping in shame, Valjean expects the bishop to indict him. A new prison sentence awaits him. But the bishop says, ‘Yes. Of course I gave him the silverware.’ Then, looking intently at Valjean he asks, ‘But why didn't you take the candlesticks? That was very foolish. They're worth at least 2,000 francs. Why did you leave them? Did you forget to take them?’

 

The bishop orders his domestic servant to hurry and fetch the candlesticks, while the authorities stand dumbfounded. They ask, ‘Are you saying he told us the truth?’

The bishop replies, ‘Of course. Thank you for bringing him back. I'm very relieved.’

 

The authorities immediately release Valjean, who is shocked by the turn of events, and the bishop thrusts the retrieved candlesticks into Valjean's knapsack.

 

Once the authorities leave, the bishop drops the heavy bag of silver at Valjean's feet. After peeling away Valjean's hood, which was cloaking his guilty face, the bishop sternly looks him in the eyes and orders Valjean, ‘Don't forget don't ever forget you've promised to become a new man.’

Valjean, trembling, makes the promise and with utter humility asks, ‘Why are you doing this?’

 

The bishop places his hands on Valjean's shoulders, as an act of blessing, and declares, ‘Jean Valjean, my brother, you no longer belong to evil. With this silver, I've bought your soul. I've ransomed you from fear and hatred. Now I give you back to God.’”

 

Les Misérables, rated PG-13, released 1998, based on the novel by Victor Hugo; written by Rafael Yglesias, directed by Bille August; submitted by Melissa Parks, Des Plaines, Illinois

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2001/april/12988.html].

 

The bishop could have condemned Jean Valjean instead of showing him compassion. ​​ He was probably a stone’s throw away from doing just that, but he understood the power of forgiveness.

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Ford Bronco II

        • My father bought a Ford Bronco II brand new, perhaps a year or two before we moved from PA to AL

        • He really liked the style of the vehicle

        • It was the vehicle I learned to drive in, because it was stick shift and not automatic

        • That was perhaps the greatest thing my father could have done for me in learning to drive – starting me off in a stick shift

        • When I worked for Chick-fil-A in AL we had to park in the upper parking lot of the mall

          • We were the last ones to leave the mall, because we had to clean the entire restaurant before we left

          • The security guards would lock the gate to the upper parking lot before we were finished working

          • So, they would send one person out to bring everyone’s vehicle down to the lower parking lot

          • One evening they asked a young lady to bring the vehicle down

          • I asked her if she knew how to drive stick shift

          • She promised me that she did

          • Long story short, she drove the Ford Bronco II forward into the cement base of a light post that I was parked in front of

        • I was scared to death to call my father, because I knew how much he liked that vehicle

        • His response to my phone call was one of forgiveness and compassion – he was more concerned that I was alright and that the young lady was fine

        • I’ll never forget the compassion I received when I expected condemnation

 

  • WE

    • Compassion instead of condemnation

        • Think of a time when you received compassion instead of the expected condemnation

 

The narrative that we’re going to look at today is not found in the earliest and most reliable manuscripts and other ancient witnesses. ​​ The writing style is more like Luke than John. ​​ Borchert calls it “a text looking for a context.” ​​ [Borchert, The New American Commentary, John 1-11, 369]. ​​ With that said it has been included in most modern translations with a side note or footnote. ​​ The principles found in this narrative are in line with Jesus’ teachings and heart. ​​ He will be challenging the religious leaders to examine themselves. ​​ They have “examined” the woman and have passed judgment on her without first examining themselves. ​​ Their focus was on trapping Jesus, so they could arrest Him. ​​ They thought that had the perfect scenario to trip Him up, but forget about their own sin. ​​ John wants us to understand, through this narrative, that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – Self-examination protects us from self-righteousness.

We’re just a stone’s throw away from doing the same thing the teachers of the law and Pharisees did with the woman caught in adultery – self-righteous condemnation.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (John 7:57-8:11)

    • Accommodations (vv. 5:53-8:2)

        • This was a regular pattern for Jesus

          • Luke helps us to understand the pattern

          • Luke 21:37, Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives, and all the people came early in the morning to hear him at the temple.

          • Because this narrative is “a text looking for a context,” we can’t say that this happened right after the previous narrative in John 7:32-52

          • It may have happened at a later time, so we have to take it as a separate unit of thought

        • Crowd

          • With that said, we are told that each person, in the crowd at the temple courts, went to his or her own home

          • These were residence of Jerusalem and, therefore, they were able to return to their own homes after listening to Jesus preach

          • Their accommodations were nearby, probably within the city limits

        • Jesus

          • Jesus did not have a home in Jerusalem, so we see that He went to the Mount of Olives

            • Matthew and Luke both record Jesus’ teaching on the cost of following Him

            • “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” ​​ (Matthew 8:20; Luke 9:58)

          • Two thoughts about going to the Mount of Olives

            • He certainly could have just slept on the Mount of Olives, perhaps under the cleft of a rock

              • It’s possible that He may not have slept at all, but rather prayed

              • He did that often as Luke records, But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed (Luke 5:16)

              • He prayed all night before calling the apostles (Luke 6:12-18)

              • He prayed at night in the Garden of Gethsemane prior to His arrest (Luke 22:39-46)

            • It is also possible that He stayed with Lazarus, Mary, and Martha in Bethany

              • He knew that He was always welcome in their home

              • Bethany was only 1.5 miles east of Jerusalem on the south-eastern slope of the Mount of Olives [show map]

        • So, everyone had gone home for the evening, but they were up early, at dawn, and back at the temple courts for more of Jesus’ teaching

        • It wasn’t unusual for the teachers of the law and the Pharisees to be hanging around, since they were the “religious professionals,” charged with teaching the law to the crowds

        • On this day they were there to challenge Jesus and hopefully entrap Him

    • Accusations (vv. 8:3-6a)

        • Woman

          • There are a couple of key indicators in the text that help us know certain things about the woman

            • She was probably betrothed (engaged) to be married

              • Deuteronomy 22:22-24, If a man is found sleeping with another man’s wife, both the man who slept with her and the woman must die. ​​ You must purge the evil from Israel. ​​ If a man happens to meet in a town a virgin pledged to be married and he sleeps with her, you shall take both of them to the gate of that town and stone them to death – the girl because she was in a town and did not scream for help, and the man because he violated another man’s wife. ​​ You must purge the evil from among you.

                • Notice that there is a distinction between a married woman and an engaged woman

                • In both cases the man and the woman are to be put to death, but with the married woman the form of death is not prescribed

                • With the man, and the woman pledged to be married, the form of death is stoning

                • The Mishnah was the oral law in Jesus’ day and it differentiated between an engaged woman and a married woman, “the offence in the first instance [adultery with an engaged woman], is punishable by stoning (it is viewed as the more serious of the two), and the second by strangling.” ​​ [bracketed text added, Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According to John, 335]

              • So, it is probable that this woman was engaged to be married and had been unfaithful to her fiancé

            • She was guilty

              • She did not deny the charge

              • She did not try to plead her innocence

            • She was not valued by the religious leaders

              • This was not unusual in the 1st Century, because women were not considered trustworthy to testify in a court of law

              • It’s evident in the fact that the religious leaders didn’t bring the man to Jesus also

              • She was simply a pawn in their scheme to trap Jesus

              • They were not concerned about fairness at this point

                • We already know this to be true about the religious leaders

                • Last week we saw how they treated Nicodemus when he challenged them with their own law about “innocent until proven guilty” (John 7:51)

                • They were so blinded by their desire to eliminate Jesus that they would compromise their own laws in order to arrest Him and put Him to death

                • Fairness didn’t even have a seat at the table

              • If the woman had no value to them, then it wouldn’t be difficult to see how this was another trap set by the religious leaders to accomplish their goal

            • She was probably set up by the religious leaders

              • My guess is that the act of adultery was the same in the 1st Century as it is today

                • It’s not something that’s flaunted in public for all to see

                • It takes place behind closed doors in a location where perhaps neither of the parties involved are known

                • All attempts are made to conceal the sin of adultery, so that it will not be found out

              • Two witnesses required

                • The religious leaders are recommending death by stoning

                • This would have required two witnesses to the act of adultery

                • Deuteronomy 17:6, On the testimony of two or three witnesses a man shall be put to death, but no one shall be put to death on the testimony of only one witness.

                • Deuteronomy 19:15, One witness is not enough to convict a man accused of any crime or offense he may have committed. ​​ A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.

                • “Boice claims, ‘Under such circumstances it is almost self-evident that the rulers must have arranged the liaison somewhat as a trap, having stationed the witnesses in the room or at the keyhole. ​​ It is a situation quite similar to the use of private investigators and photographers in order to prove adultery today’ (Boice, II, p. 315).” ​​ [Gangel, Holman New Testament Commentary, John, 159]

          • This guilty, devalued, engaged woman is brought before Jesus in an attempt to trap Jesus

        • Jesus

          • The religious leaders tell Jesus that, the woman before Him, was caught in the act of adultery

          • I find it interesting that they quote only part of the Law that was given to Moses

            • They forget to mention that Moses told them that both the man and woman were to be stoned

            • Jesus is God, so He is the One who gave the Law to Moses

            • This again shows that the religious leaders did not recognize or did not want to acknowledge that Jesus was the Messiah – that would destroy their theology of the Messiah and everything they had learned and taught to others about the Messiah

          • The religious leaders are working so hard to find grounds to arrest Jesus that they are allowing a huge hole to remain in their accusation against this woman

        • Notice that Jesus doesn’t address the gaping hole or the woman at this point, but rather begins writing on the ground

    • Awareness (vv. 8:6b-11)

        • Religious leaders

          • Writing on the ground

            • There’s all kinds of speculation about what Jesus was writing on the ground

            • We’re not going to address that this morning, because it just doesn’t enhance the narrative or help with the principles that are found in this passage

          • The religious leaders are persistent

            • When someone thinks they have set the perfect trap they are eager to see it sprung

            • The Pharisees were confident that regardless of Jesus’ answer to their question, He would alienate Himself from one side or the other – He was caught!

              • If He said that the woman should be stoned, He would alienate Himself from sinners, which are the ones He came to save

                • He was known for His “compassion for the broken and disreputable, His quickness to forgive and restore, and His announcement of the life-transforming power bound up with the new birth” [Carson, 335]

                • His influence with sinners would be damaged, because they would not trust Him after this

              • If He said that the woman should not be stoned, He would alienate Himself from the Jews and the religious leaders

                • They would accuse Him of being light concerning the Law of Moses

                • While He was able to “argue” His way out of breaking the Sabbath law, He would not be able to do the same with the law concerning those caught in adultery

                • The law was clear!

            • What the religious leaders didn’t know is that their “perfect plan” was about to unravel

          • Jesus stood up and challenged them to examine themselves

            • We saw in Deuteronomy 17:6 that there had to be two or three witnesses before someone could be sentenced to death

              • Deuteronomy 17:7, The hands of the witnesses must be the first in putting him to death, and then the hands of all the people. ​​ You must purge the evil from among you.

              • It was a requirement that those who witnessed the evil/sin had to be present to throw the first stones

            • If anyone of you is without sin (fault), let him be the first to throw a stone at her

              • “They thought they could trip Jesus up due to his compassion. ​​ Jesus ignores their plan. ​​ He doesn’t address the law or this woman’s condition. ​​ He just tells them to go ahead and stone her, with one condition: ​​ as long as they were not guilty of breaking the law.” ​​ [Carter & Wredberg, Christ-Centered Exposition: ​​ Exalting Jesus in John, 184]

              • They had already broken the law, by not bringing both the man and woman together to be sentenced and stoned

              • If the witnesses were there and didn’t say anything to stop the couple from breaking the law, they would be guilty of corroborating with them

              • Carson claims, “It means, rather, that they must not be guilty of this particular sin.” ​​ [Carson, 336]

                • So Jesus could be saying to them, “you can throw the first stones if you’ve never committed adultery yourself.”

                • It’s so easy for us to recognize the sin in others that we struggle with in our own lives (lying, gossip, hatred, mistrust, pornography, disunity, stealing, etc.)

              • Michaels brings another important facet, of the heart, into the mix when he says, “. . . whoever takes on himself the role of witness-executioner must be confident before God that he is doing the right thing – hardly an unreasonable demand.” ​​ [Michaels, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Gospel of John, 498-99]

                • We have to make sure that our accusations of others are done for the right reasons and with the right heart attitude

                • Matthew and Luke record Jesus’ teaching about criticizing others

                • Matthew 7:1-5, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. ​​ For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. ​​ Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? ​​ How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? ​​ You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

                • Jesus is teaching the same principle in Matthew and Luke that He is teaching here in John

                • PRINCIPLE #1 – God desires that His people examine themselves first.

              • The teachers of the law and the Pharisees had to stop at this point and examine themselves

                • Were they able to say that they were without fault when it came to adultery in their own lives

                • Were they able to say that they had never broken any of the Law

                • Were they able to say that they were bringing this woman forward for the right reasons

                • Application

                  • I don’t know where you are today in your own life, but if you’re like me then you’ve struggled with judging others

                  • We’re all probably just a stone’s throw away from condemning someone

                  • We have to stop and do some self-examination so we can protect ourselves from self-righteousness

                  • It’s easy to point the finger at others and blame them for the same things we’re prone to do ourselves

                  • So of all things, Christianity isn't supposed to be about gathering up the good people (shiny! happy! squeaky clean!) and excluding the bad people (frightening! alien! repulsive!) for the very simple reason that there aren't any good people … This goes flat contrary to the predominant image of [Christianity] existing in prissy, fastidious little enclaves, far from life's messier zones and inclined to get all ‘judgmental’ about them. Of course there are Christians like that … The religion certainly can slip into being a club or a cozy affinity group or a wall against the world. But it isn't supposed to be. What it's supposed to be is a league of the guilty.”

                    Francis Spufford, Unapologetic (HarperOne, 2013), pp. 45-48

                    [
                    https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2014/january/2010614.html]

                  • Take a moment to think about an area of your life, right now, where you are condemning someone else

                  • Take time to pray and ask the Lord to reveal any self-righteousness that needs to be confessed to Him

                  • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Take time to do self-examination with the Lord, so I will be protected from self-righteousness.

            • Jesus gave the religious leaders and the crowd time to process His challenge

              • He gave them time to examine themselves

              • He stooped down and began writing on the ground again

          • Self-examination proved to be profitable

            • Those in the crowd, including the religious leaders, began to leave one at a time beginning with the older ones

            • This showed the wisdom and maturity that came with age

            • When confronted with their own sin and self-righteousness, they were able to see that they were at fault

            • We’re not told if the religious leaders repented at this point, but knowing the rest of Jesus’ story, we can only imagine that this self-examination only lasted a short while and self-righteousness returned

            • That doesn’t have to be the case with you

              • You don’t have to live a stone’s throw away from condemnation

              • You can repent and turn away from your self-righteous attitudes, actions, and feelings

              • PRINCIPLE #2 – God is pleased when His people confess and repent of their sin and self-righteousness.

              • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Confess and repent of my own self-righteousness.

              • Repentance opens the way for compassion instead of condemnation

          • What we see next is compassion instead of condemnation with Jesus and the woman

        • Woman

          • Jesus was the only One in the crowd that could condemn the woman caught in adultery

            • PRINCIPLE #3 – God is the only righteous judge.

            • Since He was only one person, He could not, by law, condemn her to death (there had to be two or three witnesses)

            • In His human state, He had not personally witnessed her act of adultery, therefore, He could not throw the first stone

          • The woman is aware that all of her accusers have left

          • Jesus asks her two questions

            • “Woman, where are they?”

            • “Has no one condemned you?”

          • Her reply is that no one has condemned her

          • Jesus tells her that He doesn’t condemn her either

            • PRINCIPLE #4 – God is compassionate and forgiving.

            • When we repent from our own self-righteousness we are able to be compassionate and forgiving

            • Perhaps there is someone or a group of people that you need to forgive today

            • If you’ve confessed and repented of your own self-righteousness, the next step is to show compassion for those you’ve been condemning, and forgive them

            • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Forgive the person or people I have been condemning.

          • Jesus challenges her to leave her life of sin

            • While Jesus is compassionate and forgiving towards the woman, He doesn’t let her off the hook

            • He isn’t judging her at this point, but He is holding her accountable

            • She was caught in the act of adultery, which is sin, so Jesus challenges her to leave that lifestyle and pursue a life of holiness and purity

            • The ball is in her court – what will she do?

 

  • YOU

    • Perhaps you’ve been struggling with self-righteousness and are a stone’s throw away from condemning someone and you need to confess and repent of that today

    • Maybe you’re ready to leave your self-righteousness behind and move towards compassion and forgiveness

 

  • WE

    • That’s what the Lord has called every one of His people to do

 

CONCLUSION

During the closing song, I want to invite you to come forward and confess and repent of any self-righteousness you may be struggling with and ask the Lord to give you the power to forgive those you may be condemning or judging unfairly.

 

Alternative Conclusion

 

Gary M. Burge in his commentary explains that the woman caught in adultery “moves with shocking speed from death to life.”

 

“The sort of profile I have in mind is like that of Karla Faye Tucker, Karla Faye was twenty-three years old in June 1983, when she and her boyfriend (Daniel Garrett) broke into a Houston home in order to ‘case’ the house for a robbery. ​​ High on drugs for days, Tucker and Garrett ran into a couple in the home and murdered them with a hammer and a pickax. ​​ Both bodies had more than twenty stab wounds. ​​ Following their trial and conviction (which was widely reported around the United States), each received the death sentence. ​​ Garrett died in prison in 1993, but Tucker remained on death row for many more years.

 

Karla Faye Tucker’s story is more than one more senseless homicide because three months after her imprisonment, she became a Christian. ​​ A puppet ministry team came to her cell block, and since everyone else was going, she joined the crowed out of boredom. ​​ She stole a Bible at the meeting (not knowing they were free) and secreted it away that night in her cell. ​​ Later that night, she accepted Jesus into her heart. ​​ ‘When I did this,’ Karla wrote later, ‘the full and overwhelming weight and reality of what I had done hit me. ​​ I realized for the first time that night what I had done. ​​ I began crying that night for the first time in many years, and to this day, tears are a part of my life.’

 

The transformation of Karla’s life was tangible. ​​ Christ was alive in her. ​​ For over fourteen years she was a powerful Christian presence in the prison, in 1995 marrying the prison chaplain who worked with her (Dana Brown). ​​ Her life was gripped by the horror of what she had done. ​​ ‘I feel the pain of that night and I feel the pain that goes on every day with others because of what I did that night. ​​ I know the evil that was in me then, and I know that what took place that night was so horrible that only a monster could do it.’ ​​ Her life was hallmarked by the radiant joy of experiencing Jesus’ forgiveness.

 

In 1997 a date was set for Karla Faye’s execution: ​​ February 3, 1998. ​​ At once she was a media sensation. ​​ Was this conversion real? ​​ Would Texas execute its first woman since the Civil War? ​​ On January 14, 1998, Karla Faye was interviewed by Larry King on CNN. ​​ King tried to exploit the gruesome details of the 1983 murder (which Tucker resisted) and could not believe this was anything more than a ‘jailhouse conversion.’ ​​ Perplexed by her positive attitude weeks before her death, King asked, ‘Are you still up? ​​ You have to explain that to me a little more. ​​ It can’t just be God.’ ​​ Karla Faye responded simply, ‘Yes, it can. ​​ It’s called the joy of the Lord.’ ​​ Tough questions pressed Karla Faye to explain her feeling about the impending execution. ​​ She said she was calm and peaceful, and she hoped that the families of her victims would see her love and forgive her. ​​ Her only regret was that she could not continue a life of ministry within America’s prison systems.

 

On February 3, 1998, in Gatesville, Texas, Karla Faye Tucker was executed by lethal injection. ​​ Her final words spoke of love and forgiveness. ​​ Final appeals to the governor of Texas, George W. Bush, were fruitless. ​​ Appeals from Christians around the world fell on deaf ears.

 

Karla Faye’s conversion is poignant and helpful because the power of her Christian life was so directly tied to the power of her sin. ​​ She did not live a day without reflecting on her sin and on God’s forgiveness. ​​ She did not deny the crime any more than the woman caught in adultery denied her wrong-doing. ​​ In each case the possibilities for freedom from sin were the result, not of threat and law, but of forgiveness and love. ​​ Karla Faye was a changed person, and she demonstrated that change for fourteen years. ​​ The woman caught in adultery would be changed too because Christ set her free. ​​ Sadly, the parallel stops there. ​​ Jesus understood the power of grace and released the woman; the state of Texas did not, and Karla Faye was killed.”

 

[Burge, The NIV Application Commentary, John, 246-47].

12

 

Believe

Got Water?

(John 7:37-52)

 

INTRODUCTION

Cast Away is the story of Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks) a top engineer for FedEx. While flying over the South Pacific, a violent storm damages the company jet causing it to slam into the ocean. Noland survives the crash, but everyone else aboard is killed. Clinging to a yellow life raft, he rides out the raging storm and washes up on a small deserted island. For the next four years he struggles to survive before escaping the island and returning to civilization.

 

The day after Noland first sets foot on the island, the only concern greater than his fear is his desperate need for water. He is dangerously thirsty. After he discovers coconuts falling from the trees, Noland frantically attempts to open one. He repeatedly throws a coconut against a boulder, but the hard shell is unmarked. Using all his strength, he pounds the coconut with a rock but without success. He tries to drill a hole into one and then flies into a fury when he still cannot access the juice locked inside the fibrous seed.

Eventually he employs a sharp rock as an axe and is able to cut into and remove the outer husk. Left with the hard shell, he finally breaks it open only to watch as most of the milky juice spills out on the ground. Noland lifts up a fragment of the shell and drains the few remaining drops of liquid into his mouth.

 

How like our spiritual thirst, as we desperately seek to find satisfaction. Jesus promises to fulfill our longings and declares, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.’”

 

Cast Away (Twentieth Century Fox, 2000); written by William Broyles Jr., directed by Robert Zemeckis; submitted by Bill White, Paramount, California

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2004/november/15631.html].

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Tracking a deer

        • Last year during deer season I was helping my buddy track a deer he shot

        • There was snow on the ground, so the blood trail was easy to see

        • We walked several miles through thick undergrowth and open wooded areas

        • I had to stop at one point, because I had my insulated outfit on, and shed a couple of layers

        • I had been sweating quite a bit and was really thirsty

        • Fortunately, I had a water bottle with me, but it didn’t last long

        • By the time I met up with my buddy back at the check-in station I was super thirsty

        • I had to wait until I got home to get more water

 

  • WE

    • Really thirsty

        • All of us can probably remember a time when we were really thirsty

        • Take a moment and think of that time

        • Do you remember how you felt at that point?

        • Do you remember what it was like to finally have your thirst quenched?

 

Jesus is still at the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem. ​​ A couple of weeks ago we saw that He was teaching in the temple courts in the middle of the festival. ​​ It’s now the last day of the Feast and Jesus is again in the temple courts. ​​ There was a ceremony, that involved water, that took place every day of the Feast and the final day had the water ceremony repeated seven times. ​​ It’s probably right after this ceremony that Jesus speaks in a loud voice. ​​ He is giving the crowd an invitation to drink. ​​ They would have to make a decision about Jesus. ​​ We also have to make a decision about Jesus. ​​ We need to answer the BIG question today . . .

 

BIG IDEA – How will you respond to Jesus’ invitation to drink?

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (John 7:37-52)

    • Jesus’ Invitation (vv. 37-39)

        • Background

          • Understanding the water ceremony that took place during the Feast of Tabernacles is vital to Jesus’ invitation to the crowd at this point

          • “Each day of the feast witnessed a water ceremony in which a procession of priests descended to the south border of the city to the Gihon Spring (which flowed into the Pool of Siloam). ​​ There a priest filled a golden pitcher as a choir chanted Isaiah 12:3: ‘With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.’ ​​ The water was then carried back up the hill to the ‘Water Gate,’ followed by crowds carrying a lulab in the right hand (tree branches reminiscent of the desert booths) and an ethrog in the left hand (citrus branches reminiscent of the harvest). ​​ The crowd would shake these and sing Psalms 113-118. ​​ When the procession arrived at the temple, the priest would climb the altar steps and pour the water onto the altar while the crowd circled him and continued singing. ​​ On the seventh day of the festival, this procession took place seven times.” ​​ [Burge, The NIV Application Commentary, John, 226-27]

          • The Feast of Tabernacles took place in October, in an arid climate, that struggled with the threat of drought

            • They would have been praying for rain during the Feast

            • The water ceremony was a time to seek the face of God for His provision of rain

          • Symbolism from the Israelites wandering in the wilderness

            • God had provided water for the Israelites on two occasions in the wilderness

            • Exodus 17:5-6, The Lord answered Moses, “Walk on ahead of the people. ​​ Take with you some of the elders of Israel and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. ​​ I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb. ​​ Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink.” ​​ So Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel.

            • Numbers 20:8-11, “Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. ​​ Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. ​​ You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.” ​​ So Moses took the staff from the Lord’s presence, just as he commanded him. ​​ He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them. “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” ​​ Then Moses raise his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. ​​ Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.

          • So, this water ceremony sets the stage and gives us the context behind Jesus’ invitation to the crowd

        • Jesus stood up and gave the invitation in a loud voice

          • Original text can be translated two ways

            • What we have to understand about the original Greek text is that there was no punctuation to set sentences apart and all of the letters were capital letters with no spaces in between (imagine trying to read that text)

            • Traditional interpretation

              • “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. ​​ Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”

              • Part of the difficulty is that scholars are not certain which passage of Scripture Jesus or John is referring to here concerning the flow of living water (if we knew what Scripture, it may help to clear things up)

              • This interpretation makes it sound like the streams of living water flow out of the believer

                • We have to include John’s explanation of what Jesus meant, which is found in verse 39

                • “Streams of living water” is referring to the Holy Spirit that had not yet been given to believers

                • Jesus had to experience His passion (death, burial, resurrection, and ascension) before the Holy Spirit would be poured out

                  • (Promise) Acts 1:7-8, He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. ​​ But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

                  • (Fulfillment) Acts 2:1-4, When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. ​​ Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. ​​ They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. ​​ All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

                • Woman at the well

                  • When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well, He said this, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. ​​ Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life (John 4:13-14)

                  • “As he told the Samaritan woman, the ‘living water’ he offers is a never-failing, self-replenishing stream. ​​ The point is not, as is often thought, that the believer will necessarily become a channel of ‘living water’ to others, but that the believer’s own well will never run dry.” ​​ [Michaels, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Gospel of John, 465]

                • As believers, the Holy Spirit lives within us

                  • He is a never-failing, self-replenishing stream

                  • “The participle ‘Whoever believes in me’ is best understood as referring not to someone being invited to ‘come and drink,’ but to a person who has already done so, never to thirst again.” ​​ [Michaels, 465]

                  • In Acts especially, we see the Apostles, praying for, and receiving the filling of the Holy Spirit for a specific task (Peter before the Sanhedrin, Acts 4:8; group that prayed with Peter and John, Acts 4:31)

                • PRINCIPLE #1 – God promises to give the Holy Spirit to His people.

                  • Indwelling – when we repent of our sins and turn to Jesus Christ for salvation, we immediately receive the Holy Spirit that comes to live within us

                  • Ephesians 1:13-14, And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. ​​ Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of his glory.

                  • Filling – we can pray to be filled with the Holy Spirit for a specific task (sharing the Gospel with someone; teaching Sunday school or a discipleship group; witnessing for Jesus publicly; etc.)

                  • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Ask the Lord to fill me with His Holy Spirit so I can boldly share the Gospel with __________.

              • The second interpretation may have been a result of misunderstanding the fact that Jesus is the One who gives the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit is the One who works through the believer

            • “Christological interpretation”

              • “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me. ​​ And let him drink, who believes in me. ​​ As the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”

              • With this interpretation, it makes it clear that Jesus is the One where the streams of living water are flowing from

                • Those who hold to this interpretation point to Jesus’ crucifixion and the blood and water that flowed out of His body when the soldier pierced His side with the spear

                • The only difficulty with this interpretation is that John identifies the living water as the Holy Spirit

                • The Holy Spirit was not flowing out of Jesus’ side at His crucifixion

          • Carson has a balanced approach to both interpretations, Both interpret the water as the Spirit, both insist that the blessing is something believers will enjoy only later (from the standpoint of Jesus’ ministry), both relate the promise of the Spirit to Jesus’ invitation at the Feast of Tabernacles, and both make Jesus the one who supplies the ‘drink’ and quenches thirst.” ​​ [Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According to John, 323]

        • Invitation to come

          • The second half of verse 37 is Jesus’ invitation to the unbelievers in the crowd

          • Jesus takes the opportunity, presented with the water ceremony, to connect, belief in Him, as quenching thirst

          • He is also announcing that He is the replacement for the temple and the sacrificial system that God had established until the coming of the Messiah

          • The crowd was going to have to determine how they would respond to Jesus’ invitation, which we’ll see in verses 40-44

          • We have to answer the implied question that’s being asked

            • How will you respond to Jesus’ invitation to drink?

              • Sinner (Rom. 3:23)

              • God’s justice (Rom. 6:23, separated from living water)

              • God’s love (Rom. 5:8)

              • God’s plan of redemption (1 Cor. 15:3-4)

              • Our response (Read Rom. 10:9-10)

            • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in my heart that God raised Him from the dead.

        • What we see next in the narrative is the crowd’s response to the invitation to drink

    • Wrestling with the Invitation (vv. 40-44)

        • Different beliefs

          • The Prophet

            • This is not the first time that the crowd thought someone was The Prophet

            • John 1:19-21, Now this was John’s testimony when the Jews of Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. ​​ He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Christ.” ​​ They asked him, “Then who are you? ​​ Are you Elijah?” ​​ He said, “I am not.” ​​ “Are you the Prophet?” ​​ He answered, “No.”

            • The crowd was not referring to a prophet, but to The Prophet that was promised in the Old Testament (read Deuteronomy 18:15-18)

            • Individuals in the 1st Century believed that the Prophet and the Messiah were two separate persons, but Jesus fulfilled both the promise of the Prophet and the Messiah

          • The Christ (Messiah)

            • Some of the crowd believed that Jesus was the Messiah

            • They were on the right track at this point

            • There was a third group that questioned whether Jesus was the Messiah based on where He was from

          • Not the Christ

            • The crowd was not necessarily questioning Jesus’ lineage, but rather where they knew He was from

            • The crowd knew that Jesus was from Nazareth in Galilee

              • Jesus grew up in Nazareth, but that was not where He was born

              • It’s interesting that those in the crowd, which included the Jewish religious leaders, were unaware of Jesus’ birthplace

                • We know from Scripture that Jesus and His parents didn’t remain in Bethlehem for long, perhaps a year

                • Mary and Joseph were warned to flee to Egypt, because Herod was going to have all the boys, two years old and younger, killed in Bethlehem and the surrounding region (Matthew 2:13-16)

                • They never return to Bethlehem after leaving, but eventually settle in Nazareth in Galilee

              • The crowd knew what Scripture said about the Messiah

                • He would come from the line of David

                • He would be born in David’s hometown of Bethlehem

                • They just didn’t know Jesus’ birthplace

                • They assumed He had been born in Nazareth

            • Not having all the facts caused the people to be divided

          • PRINCIPLE #2 – Jesus’ life and message brings division.

            • It definitely brought division to the crowd in the 1st Century and it still brings division today

            • “You won’t come to Jesus if you don’t believe Him . . . if you have already decided you don’t want to believe him, then you’ll find an excuse not to.” ​​ [Carter & Wredberg, Christ-Centered Exposition: ​​ Exalting Jesus in John, 181]

            • There are individuals that believe Jesus is not God

              • While the 1st Century crowd thought that Jesus was The Prophet some people today believe that He was just a prophet

                • They marginalize and discount Jesus’ deity

                • They say He is not God, but rather a wise teacher, a rabbi, a good or moral person, another prophet

                • But that’s not what Scripture teaches

                  • Jesus is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29, 35)

                  • Jesus and God are One (John 10:30; Phil. 2:5-6)

                • Believing that Jesus and God are One is vital to Christianity, it’s a foundational truth

              • Jesus’ miraculous conception and birth was just a nice story, but it didn’t really happen

                • Some people will say, “Mary didn’t become pregnant supernaturally by the Holy Spirit coming upon her. ​​ She got pregnant by Joseph or some other man!”

                • They may also say, “There weren’t angels that announced His birth to shepherds in a field or a star that guided wise men to Him. ​​ That’s just a made up story for weak-minded people.”

              • Their unbelief doesn’t change the facts and truths of God’s Word

            • The division in our culture surrounding Jesus’ life and message brings persecution on those who hold to the truths of Scripture – Jesus promised that persecution would come

          • We see that with the desire of some of the crowd

        • Desire of some of the crowd

          • Some of them wanted to seize Jesus

          • They wanted Him to be arrested and imprisoned

          • But God continued to protect Jesus from being arrested prematurely

          • Their response, to Jesus’ invitation to drink from the living water, was rejection

          • How will you respond to Jesus’ invitation to drink?

        • What we see next in the response of the religious leaders was the same as some of the crowd – rejection

    • Rejection of the Invitation (vv. 45-52)

        • Spiritual pride

          • Temple guards

            • Last week we saw that the chief priests and the Pharisees sent temple guards to arrest Jesus (John 7:23)

              • The temple guards were not trained soldiers like the Roman soldiers

              • They were Levites who were charged with protecting the temple courts and helping to keep the peace

              • Perhaps more like a security guard than a police officer

              • Their training was more religious than civil

            • Now we see the temple guards returning empty-handed

              • The religious leaders simply ask them why they didn’t accomplish their goal

              • Their response is priceless!

                • “Have you heard Him speak? ​​ No one has ever spoken like Him!”

                • They were ready to drink from the living water that Jesus was offering

                • You would think that would have hurt the religious leaders, especially the rabbis, since they were the ones who were teaching the people, but that wasn’t the case

              • The religious leaders had already made up their minds about Jesus, and it didn’t matter how much evidence or truth they heard

                • Jesus was not The Prophet

                • Jesus was not the Messiah

                • His message was not truth, but deception

                • They knew better

            • Religious leader’s pride unchecked

              • The temple guards were not uneducated common folk – they were Levites who had religious training and knew the Law

              • The religious leaders were comparing the temple guards to the mob (crowd)

                • “Their contempt for the masses is well-established in Jewish sources where the peasantry, uneducated in the law, were not considered truly pious since through their ignorance, they could not possibly keep the law (m. P. Aboth 2:6; 1QS 10:19-21).” ​​ [Burge, 230]

                • They were saying to the temple guards in essence, “Because you believe Jesus’ words, you are uneducated, stupid, and cursed.”

              • The flip side is the “religious” people aren’t deceived

                • The religious leaders are basically saying, “We’ve studied the scriptures all our lives and know what the law says and it doesn’t match what Jesus is saying.”

                • “Jesus is trying to deceive us, but we know better.”

              • The amazing thing is that the religious leaders use a common argument

                • NONE of the rulers or the Pharisees believe in Him

                • They believe they know what everyone in their group thinks

                • They speak for everyone even though they don’t know for certain that everyone agrees with them

            • Immediately, we find out that they don’t speak for everyone

          • Nicodemus

            • Nicodemus was part of the rulers and Pharisees – their group

              • He had gone to Jesus at night, now he is speaking up publicly when Jesus and His message is being marginalized and discounted

              • Eventually he will join together with Joseph of Arimathea to prepare Jesus’ body for burial (John 19:39)

            • Nicodemus is simply pleading for fairness based on their own law

            • The religious leader’s response is a harsh one – are you from Galilee, too?

              • They are questioning his heritage and upbringing

              • Can anything good come from Nazareth in Galilee (Nathanael asked that question in John 1:46)

              • That was probably the same feelings of the religious leaders at this point

            • They challenge Nicodemus to do what they all were supposed to be doing – search the Scriptures!

              • They were confident that a prophet does not come out of Galilee

              • There were two Old Testament prophets they came from Galilee – Jonah and Nahum

              • It is probable that they were referring to The Prophet, promised during the time of Moses

              • This would be referring to the Messiah also, since they are one in the same

        • “How ironic that only the masses who are said to be scripturally illiterate have a clue regarding Jesus’ actual identity, while those who boast of their scriptural expertise are ignorant of who Jesus truly is.” ​​ [Köstenberger, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, John, 243]

          • Read 1 Corinthians 1:27-29

          • That’s what spiritual pride can do to any one of us

          • PRINCIPLE #3 – Spiritual pride blinds us to the truth.

            • Thinking that we know what is best and what everyone is thinking can cause us to continue to pursue something that isn’t right or true

              • That can happen in our families, at work, and in the church

              • Perhaps we were taught something in the past and have continued to believe it is true today, even though it has been proven false

              • Pastor Marc mentioned this last week – it’s called “confirmation bias”

            • We can miss God’s will for our lives and the church if we allow spiritual pride to blind us to the truth

              • We may be hesitant to follow God’s leading in our lives because He may be asking us to do something we don’t want to do – we may think we know better than Him

              • We may not agree with the direction the church is going, because we think we know better

                • We may think we know how things should be done at church

                • We may think we know the best course of action

                • We may not realize that our ways are not God’s ways and our thoughts are not God’s thoughts

                • He may be stretching us and asking us to trust Him to move out of our comfort zone

                • He may be asking us to pursue Him in deeper ways and not just a shallow, cultural belief in Him

                • He may be calling us to greater ministry, to greater faith, but we don’t follow His leading because we know better

              • Spiritual pride can blind us to the truth of what God wants to do in and through us and the church

            • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Confess my spiritual pride to the Lord and trust Him and His plans for my life and the life of the church.

 

  • YOU

    • Jesus has invited us to drink of the living water that He offers – how will you respond to His offer?

    • Jesus promises to give the Holy Spirit to those who believe in Him – have you asked the Lord to fill you with His Holy Spirit for a specific task to further His kingdom?

 

  • WE

    • We can all struggle with spiritual pride and when we confess that to the Lord, He will do incredible things through us and Idaville Church

 

CONCLUSION

“Conversion is hardly safe. After all, it requires approaching the King of the Universe, face to face. In his book The Silver Chair, C.S. Lewis draws an analogy with the story of a young girl named Jill. She's in the land of Narnia, and she's thirsty. At once she sees a magnificent stream . . . and a fearsome lion (Aslan, who represents the Lord Jesus):

 

‘If I run away, it'll be after me in a moment,’ thought Jill. ‘And if I go on, I shall run straight into its mouth.’ Anyway, she couldn't have moved if she had tried, and she couldn't take her eyes off it. How long this lasted, she could not be sure; it seemed like hours. And the thirst became so bad that she almost felt she would not mind being eaten by the Lion if only she could be sure of getting a mouthful of water first. . ..

 

‘Are you not thirsty?’ said the Lion.

 

‘I'm dying of thirst,’ said Jill.

‘Then drink,’ said the Lion.

 

‘May I . . . could I . . . would you mind going away while I do?’ said Jill.

 

The Lion answered this only by a look and a very low growl. And as Jill gazed at its motionless bulk, she realized that she might as well have asked the whole mountain to move aside for her convenience. The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her nearly frantic.

 

‘Will you promise not to . . . do anything to me, if I do come?’ said Jill.

 

‘I make no promise,’ said the Lion.

 

Jill was so thirsty now that, without noticing it, she had come a step nearer.

 

‘Do you eat girls?’ she said.

 

‘I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms,’ said the Lion. It didn't say this as if it were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry. It just said it.

 

‘I daren't come and drink,’ said Jill.

 

‘Then you will die of thirst,’ said the Lion.

 

‘Oh dear!’ said Jill, coming another step nearer. ‘I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.’

 

‘There is no other stream,’ said the Lion. It never occurred to Jill to disbelieve the Lion . . . no one who had seen his stern face could do that . . . and her mind suddenly made itself up.

 

It was the worst thing she had ever had to do, but she went straight to the stream, knelt down, and began scooping up water in her hand. It was the coldest, most refreshing water she had ever tasted. You didn't need to drink much of it, for it quenched your thirst at once. Before she tasted it she had been intending to make a dash away from the Lion the moment she had finished. Now, she realized that this would be on the whole the most dangerous thing of all.”

 

C.S. Lewis, The Silver Chair (Collier Books), pp.16-18; Eugene A Maddox, Interlachen, Florida

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2000/october/12653.html].

13

 

TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES

Over the past 75 years there have been many television game shows involving telling the truth or trying to trick people by lying to them. To Tell the Truth was a television game show in which four celebrity panelists are presented with three contestants and must identify which is the "central character" whose unusual occupation or experience has been read out by the show's host. When the panelists question the contestants, the two "impostors" may lie and the "central character" must tell the truth.

Another was the game show, Truth or Consequences. On the show, contestants received roughly two seconds to answer a trivia question correctly before the buzzer sounded. It was usually an off-the-wall question that no one would be able to answer correctly and of course there wasn’t a lot of time given for the contestant to answer. If the contestant could not complete the "truth" portion (which they usually couldn’t), there would be "consequences," usually a zany and embarrassing stunt.

Over the years in the youth groups I have been a part of we have played the game “Two Truths and a Lie” in order to get to know each other better. The idea is for the group to identify which of three statements is the lie. I have found that it is difficult to distinguish between the truths and the lie because the lie is usually very believable.

I want to play a little game of true and false with you this morning. I am going to say some statements and I want you to tell me if you think that statement is true or false. The first one is one dog year is equivalent to seven human years. How many would say that is true? How many would say that is false? Next, drinking 8 eight ounce glasses of water a day will aid in good health? How many would say that is true? How many would say that is false? Next, Napoleon was short. How many would say that is true? How many would say that is false? Reducing salt intake will prevent heart attacks or strokes. How many would say that is true? How many would say that is false?

Just so you know, all of these statements are false. Most people think you just multiply by seven to get your dog’s age, but they’re wrong. It’s just a made-up number that’s been circulating since the 13th century. Also, it has never been shown that reducing your salt intake will prevent heart attacks or strokes and there’s good reason to believe that Napoleon was actually a bit taller than the average Frenchman of his day.

Here are some others: We only use ten percent of our brains. How many would say that is true? How many would say that is false? We lose most of our body heat through our heads. How many would say that is true? How many would say that is false? If you swallow chewing gum, it will stay in your system for seven years. How many would say that is true? How many would say that is false? Cracking your knuckles will give you arthritis. How many would say that is true? How many would say that is false?

If you answered “true” to any of these, you’re guilty of believing falsehoods. But don’t feel too bad. According to the British Medical Journal, even doctors endorse many of these so-called ‘facts,’ and they show up frequently in both the popular press as well as medical publications.

According to research whether we realize it or not, most of us harbor at least some false beliefs. Why do we so easily believe false things? Psychologists have shown that we all tend to make mental shortcuts and those shortcuts can explain a lot about how false notions take root. People routinely use mental shortcuts to understand what happens around them because they don't always have the time or energy to sit down and carefully examine all that happens to them. So, we tend to use quick and largely unconscious rules-of-thumb to determine what we should believe—and these shortcuts sometimes steer us in the wrong direction. Here are some of the shortcuts we use. The first is what they call the “availability heuristic.”

If I asked you, which job is more dangerous—working as a police officer or a fisherman, what would you say? If you guessed police officer, you’re wrong. According to figures from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, fishing workers are ten times more likely than police to be killed on the job. The reason most of us believe that police officers are more likely to die at work is because of the availability heuristic, a mental shortcut that can lead us to overestimate the frequency of an event when that event is more “available” or vivid in our memory. When a police officer is killed in the line of duty, it’s widely reported in the news and sticks in our memory, so we tend to believe it must be more common than deaths in other professions. Unless we’re careful, the vivid nature of the news stories in our memory can unconsciously bias our estimate of how often these events actually happen.

The second shortcut we take is “emotional reasoning.” Whether we like it or not, all of us can be powerfully swayed by our emotions. We'd like to think that our feelings are driven by logic and reason. Unfortunately, this relationship is often reversed. Sometimes we end up using our reasoning ability to justify or defend a conclusion that we’ve already drawn based on our emotions. This phenomenon, called emotional reasoning, can lead us astray without our ever knowing.

The third shortcut is “confirmation bias.” Once we have a belief, we tend to cling to it, even when it’s untrue. The confirmation bias is the tendency to seek out information that supports what we already believe. We do this in two important ways. First, we tend to surround ourselves with messages that confirm our pre-existing opinions. Second, we tend to ignore or discount messages that disprove our beliefs. This protects us from having to change our beliefs. When our ideas are true, this probably isn’t such a bad thing. Unfortunately, it also can keep us firmly believing things that are false.

Now, it has never hurt anyone to believe that we use only ten percent of our brain capacity and it doesn’t make a big difference if your dog is 70 or 60 years of age in human years. But there are things that if we don’t believe they are true could bring serious consequences. One that comes to mind is a hot stove. If we don’t believe that the stove is hot and we touch it, it will burn us.

But when it comes to spiritual things, not believing in the truth can bring even more serious consequences. Which brings us to our scripture this morning.

According to scholars, our story takes place probably during the month of October of AD 29. The people of Israel had come to the Temple in Jerusalem to celebrate the annual Feast of Tabernacles. But there was a different atmosphere at the feast that year - beneath the surface of the usual worship rituals and prayers led by the priests each day there was plenty of whispering, quiet discussions and arguments going on in the crowds. And they were all talking about the same person - Jesus of Nazareth. Some were excitedly telling others about His miracles they had witnessed. Others were expressing their doubts about Jesus. Many were curious to know His whereabouts because 3 days of the feast had already passed and He was nowhere to be seen. The Jewish leaders were also anxiously looking for Jesus, because they wanted to get rid of Him.

They wanted to get rid of him because He had spoken against them and had violated the Sabbath law. They had judged Him wrongly based on their own man-made rules and on His outward appearance and according to their unrighteous judgment Jesus was worthy of death. Now they were looking for an opportunity to have Him arrested and condemned.

But when Jesus finally made His presence known to the crowds on the 4th day of the feast these Jewish leaders seemed to have forgotten all that they had planned to do against Him. Why? Maybe it was because of the unusual power and authority with which He spoke and taught the people. It left the Jewish leaders spell-bound and wondering how He could teach the way He did. They were so amazed at this that none of them tried to stop Him or rebuke Him or remove Him. Or, as Pastor Stuart related to us last week, Jesus’ identity may have been veiled for a little while and that could have been why the religious leaders did not immediately take action.

We also see that the people were confused about who Jesus was because they saw how the religious leaders were reacting to him. They had preconceived ideas about what they thought was true about Jesus. They did not believe in Him even when he told them the truth about who he was. They were swayed by their emotions about Jesus and had been biased against him. The problem was that because of their unbelief Jesus said that when the time comes for him to leave they wouldn’t be able to find him and the consequence of their unbelief would be very serious. The same is true for us today. If we do not believe in who Jesus is there will be serious consequences for us as well. Our consequence will be eternal separation from God and that brings us to the big idea that John wants us to know this morning which is “We need to know the truth in order to see the truth.” We need to know Jesus and be in relationship with him now on the earth so that when we die we will see him in heaven and spend eternity with him there. ​​ 

But before we dive into our scripture this morning, let’s pray:

Heavenly Father, we thank you for your Word and for its eternal truths that guide us day by day. We thank you most of all for your living Word, Jesus Christ, and the truth that he is your Son and he is the only way, the only truth and the only life. Teach us to have eyes to see and ears to hear your truth when this world tries to feed us its lies. Help our thoughts to be your thoughts, and our ways to be your ways. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Our scripture this morning is found in John chapter 7 verses 25-36 and the first point we are going to unpack is “truth.” God cares about truth. We know this because the word "truth" is found over a hundred times in the New Testament. The truth always matters to God, and it ought to matter to us. But we live in a day when a lot of people believe that truth doesn't matter. They actually believe there is no such thing as an objective or absolute truth meaning you can have your truth, and I can have mine. In October 2018, the Christian Institute of England reported on a new survey for the Coalition for Marriage. Among the 2,000 people asked, 32 percent supported self-definition of race. Nineteen percent thought it was okay for people to choose their age. Ten percent of those people also said it was okay for you to choose your own species! In other words: If they got up tomorrow and decided they wanted to be a horse, then that is what they would be. That and more are the kinds of things that happen when people reject the reality of truth, especially when they reject the greatest truth of all which is that Jesus is our Lord and Savior. We know that the truth of Jesus Christ matters! It matters that Jesus is sent from God and if we don’t believe in the one that God sent there will be serious consequences.

In verses 25-29, we are going to see people who are looking for the truth, they are questioning the truth and we are going to see Jesus telling them the truth. Follow along as I read verses 25-29. This is what God’s Word says: 25 At that point some of the people of Jerusalem began to ask, “Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill? 26 Here he is, speaking publicly, and they are not saying a word to him. Have the authorities really concluded that he is the Messiah? 27 But we know where this man is from; when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from.” 28 Then Jesus, still teaching in the temple courts, cried out, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. I am not here on my own authority, but he who sent me is true. You do not know him, 29 but I know him because I am from him and he sent me.”

First, we see that it is “some of the people from Jerusalem” and not the multitude who are confused about the conflict between Jesus and the religious leaders. Many in the multitude who were from other places would not have known of the religious leaders’ plot to kill Jesus, but the people from Jerusalem are aware of it and talk about it amongst themselves.

They knew the dominating, ruthless, manipulating authority of the Jewish leaders in their society. They knew the Pharisees would not mess around or put up with anyone who upset the status quo. They knew the outcome of Jesus’ bold words should be His death.

Second, since the religious authorities controlled the merchandising area of the temple court where Jesus was teaching, the people reach the possible conclusion that maybe the rulers’ failure to arrest Jesus was because they recognized His claims to be the Messiah were true.

This leads to a discussion of His origins. In a culture without surnames, the place of origin was a means of personal identification. “Jesus son of Joseph” or “Jesus of Nazareth” or “Joseph of Arimathea” are typical identifiers. Once again the misunderstanding of the crowd is displayed by their statement. The crowd is examining Jesus on an earthly level and think that since they can trace his human origins, He is disqualified from messianic status.

They held to the erroneous popular belief that the Messiah would appear suddenly without indication of His origin based on some vague inferences from the Apocrypha. The rabbis taught that the Messiah would make Himself known suddenly at the temple and without warning according to their understanding of the prophet Malachi. This was probably based on Malachi 3:1. God is speaking and says, “Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming.” The thing was Jesus actually fulfilled that prophecy when He went into the temple and cleansed it at the beginning of His public ministry in John 2:13-16. There was something terribly wrong about the source the Jews placed their confidence in for information about the Messiah. That source was not the scriptures but the Jewish traditions regarding Him. There is no verse or passage of Scripture that teaches when the Messiah comes into the world no one would know where He is from or that He would appear mysteriously 'out of nowhere.’ This unbiblical view was apparently quite widespread among the Jews. Another popular belief was that the immediate ancestry of the Messiah would not be known. ​​ In fact, many of them believed that the Messiah Himself wouldn’t know who He was or where He was from. Since they knew that Jesus was the son of Joseph and Mary of Nazareth and he lived in a plain house in Galilee, then He could not be the Messiah. They concluded the Messiah could not come from a background like Jesus had. But those of this tradition were ignoring that God had already clearly predicted that the Messiah would arise from the tribe of Judah in Genesis 49:10. Listen to that: The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be his. God also revealed that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem in Micah 5:2. Listen as I read that verse: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” God also predicted the Messiah’s birth in Isaiah 7:14 and had revealed in the Scriptures and that he would be called a Nazarene in Mathew 2:23.

Jesus knew what all the conflicting voices in the crowd were saying and in verse 28, He interrupts His teaching and cries out to the crowd with a loud voice so that everyone could hear. There is more here than just speaking loud to be heard. “Loud voice” in Hebrew is used for the voice of God and Jesus answers them by making an astounding claim. There is irony in his statement as he says they know him and where he is from. In a sense that is true but in a far more important sense they do not. Here is our truth this morning: Jesus has come from God and knows God with an unparalleled intimacy. This was paramount to a divine claim but it broke with all of the precepts of Judaism. A Messiah might be powerfully sent by God, but Jesus was claiming to know God and to actually be the Son of God, who has the same authority as God because of His divine origins.

Just as in chapter 5, Jesus says again that the Jews’ inability to comprehend this reality is evidence that they don’t really know God. The thought they knew God, but how could they really have known God when they had not placed their confidence in the Scriptures that He had given them. Whatever real knowledge they had of God was merely superficial. If they had truly known God, they would not have failed to recognize Jesus as the Messiah and to believe in Him.

Then in verse 29 just as Jesus claimed his teaching came directly from the Father he also claims his mission comes directly from God. He says “I know Him, because I am from Him, and He sent Me.” The I’s are emphatic. Jesus’ claim is simple and straight forward. No one truly knows the Father but His Son with whom the Father shares His divinity and purpose.

With such clear information in the Scriptures about the Messiah, why did the Jews believe that His origins would be unknown? The reason is they had not placed their confidence in the Scriptures. They allowed their ideas of the Messiah to be determined by the imaginations of men. Their misplaced confidence was therefore the cause of their ignorance which in turn caused them to wrongfully reject Jesus as their Messiah.

Nothing has really changed. This still occurs today. People do not place their confidence in the Bible about who Jesus is but in man-made religions and who they say Jesus is. The Mormons believe that God and Jesus are not one and the same but are two distinct beings. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jehovah created Jesus as the archangel Michael and that Jesus did raise spiritually from the dead but not physically. We don’t really need to wonder why people today don’t believe in Jesus as the only way to God when they are hearing so many other conflicting man-made views of who Jesus is. But Christians also struggle with the Bible and what it says. One example is whether there is a Hell or not. The argument is that God is love and so there is no Hell because he wouldn’t send those he loves to an eternal separation from himself. The truth is yes God is love but he is also holy and just and we have been given free choice to choose. We can choose Jesus as our Savior and spend eternity in Heaven with Him or we can reject Jesus as our Savior condemn ourselves to eternal separation from God in Hell. God’s love is not in question here, but what is, is our love for God and in being a fully committed disciple of Jesus. We need to read and know what the scripture says so we can have confidence in them and not be swayed by the world and other religions into believing the lies it tells about Jesus just like the Jews believed the lies about the Messiah in Jesus’ time. That brings us to our first next step on the back of your communication card. Maybe this next step is for you. My next step is to believe in and hunger for the truth of God’s Word as the final authority in every area of my life.

The second point we are going to unpack this morning is “division.” In verses 30-32 we will see that when Jesus speaks the truth there is division amongst the people. Follow along as I read verses 30-32. This is what God’s Word says, 30 At this they tried to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come. 31 Still, many in the crowd believed in him. They said, “When the Messiah comes, will he perform more signs than this man?” 32 The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering such things about him. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees sent temple guards to arrest him.

In verse 30, we see that Jesus’ claim that he was the Messiah causes division among the people. It says some in the crowd try to seize him for claiming to be the Messiah. These words enraged those from Jerusalem. If Jesus was not the Messiah, which is what those from Jerusalem had just concluded, then the words of Jesus were blasphemy against God rather than the truth. They wanted to immediately arrest Him.

But their efforts are frustrated. It says no one could lay a hand on him because his “hour” had not yet come. This word “hour” is used as a marker of time but means much more than just chronological time. Jesus was talking about the hour that he would go to the cross. John spoke of this special hour 8 times in his Gospel. Jesus’ first reference to his “hour” was to His mother in John 2:4, when he said, "'Mine hour is not yet come” and the last was to His Father in John 17:1, when he said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you.” Everything Jesus did, had to do with this hour. All of Jesus’ ministry pointed to this hour. But God’s plan and timing was perfect and only when the appointed time had come for Jesus to be taken to the cross would he be given over to the authorities and not a moment before.

In verse 31, we see that many in the crowd believed in Him. Their reason for believing in Jesus was not a profound one. They could not conceive that when the Messiah came He would do more signs than Jesus.

The truth about Jesus caused division among the people and this division caused the Pharisees to finally take action against Jesus. They heard the favorable things the crowd was saying about Jesus and were further enraged. Their dominating opinion did not permit the people to speak favorably in public about him. The religious leadership in Jerusalem was vehemently opposed to Jesus and willing to employ any resources at its disposal to get rid of Him. So they seek help from the High Priest, who was a Sadducee. Normally, these groups hated each other and had even fought wars against each other, but now they were united against a common foe and they sent the Temple police to arrest Jesus.

 

The truths in the Bible and the truth about Jesus brings division between Christians and the world today. ​​ We can start with Creation. The Bible says that God created the world in 7 days but the world discounts a creator and says the earth was created by a Big Bang or by chance. Next, we see that the Bible says marriage is to be between a man and a woman but the world says that a man can be married to another man and a woman can be married to another woman and it’s ok. The argument is that doesn’t God just want us all to be happy? In John 14:6, Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” But the world tells us that there are many ways to get to God. You can believe in any religion you want and you will still go to Heaven. The truth is that there are many gods but only one true God and the only way to him is by believing in his son Jesus Christ and what he came to earth to do.

But we also see division in the church when we take our eyes off Jesus and the Great Commission and look to ourselves. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the most important truth that we can share with those in our community who do not know Jesus. We must be unified as a body of believers if we are ever going to reach our community for him. If fact I truly believe that we must be unified as a body of believers if we even want Jesus to entrust us with reaching our community for him. Which brings us to the second next step on the back of your communication card. Maybe this one is for you. My next step is to be in unity with this body of believers so that God will entrust us to reach our community for him.

The final point we are going to unpack this morning is “consequences.” In verses 33-36 we will see that not believing in Jesus as the way the truth and the life will have eternal consequences.

This is what God’s Word says, 33 Jesus said, “I am with you for only a short time, and then I am going to the one who sent me. 34 You will look for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.” 35 The Jews said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we cannot find him? Will he go where our people live scattered among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks? 36 What did he mean when he said, ‘You will look for me, but you will not find me,’ and ‘Where I am, you cannot come’?”

In verse 33, Jesus knowing that His time on earth was drawing to a close spoke of His coming death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven. In verse 34, he warns the people that eternal separation from God is the consequence for those who reject Jesus.

They do not understand his statement because they continued to think in earthly terms about Jesus and not in spiritual ones. Their responses in verses 35-36 shows that they think Jesus is talking about some physical place on earth such as another country. They seem to be mocking Jesus when they speculate that “this man” (a demeaning way of referring to Jesus) may leave Jerusalem and go among the Greeks. ​​ The only place these Jews would not go was among the Greeks or the Gentiles, so they speculate that Jesus is simply leaving Israel to go and teach the Jews who lived outside of Israel. The Jews failed to grasp Jesus’ meaning again.

They completely missed His statement that He was returning to “Him who sent Me.” Jesus made four such references in this dialogue and had already identified the “Him” as God. Because they missed that, they did not understand that they would not be able to find Jesus in the future because He was returning to God. They also missed the rebuke that they would not be able to go to heaven where Jesus would be.

Even more tragic was if they had wanted to know the truth about Jesus, He was still present with them. There was still a hope that the Jews could “go with him.” The hope is found in the words of Jesus in verse 33, 'Yet a little while am I with you.' This means that the door had not been completely shut yet. The day of grace was not yet over for them. Jesus was lovingly extending His grace to them to come out of their ignorance and into the saving knowledge of their Messiah. But they remained arrogant and debated it amongst themselves instead.

Up to this point, Jesus has been at work in the world, searching for those who would believe in him. But, once He departed, God’s fullest revelation would be withdrawn. They would search for deliverance and salvation, trying to find what they have tragically opposed and missed. Jesus’ ministry demanded an allegiance to Him by believing in what He said about himself. Many were hanging on to their own understanding or the understanding of the religious leaders instead of being willing to trust the convicting, teaching, and leading of the Holy Spirit of God.

We too must make up our mind about Jesus. If we do not chose to follow Him and His life challenging teachings, then where He goes we will not be able to go either. That may suit us well on this earth but it will not suit us when it is time to go into eternity. Your eternal destiny depends on believing in Jesus while you still have the opportunity. Which reminds us of our big idea, “We need to know the truth in order to see the truth.”

Which brings us to the third next step on the back of your communication card. Maybe this next step is for you. My next step is to turn my life over to Jesus and believe in him as my Lord and Savior. If you have taken that next step this morning for the first time please put your name on the front so Pastor Stuart and I can contact you about your decision to follow Jesus.

Now maybe you have already accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior but you want to rededicate your life to following him and being a totally committed disciple of his. If so, the last next step is for you. My next step is to rededicate my life to following Jesus and become a totally committed disciple of His.  ​​ ​​​​ 

I want to conclude with a story. A successful young lawyer in Hungary during the 1950s was a strong believer in freedom for his country. ​​ When the uprising failed, he was forced to flee the country. ​​ He arrived in the U.S. with no money, no job, and no friends. ​​ He was, however, well-educated; he spoke and wrote several languages, including English. ​​ For several months he tried to get a job in a law office, but because of his lack of familiarity with American law, he received only polite refusals.

Finally, it occurred to him that with his knowledge of language he might be able to get a job with an import-export company. ​​ He selected one such company and wrote a letter to the owner. Two weeks later he received an answer but was hardly prepared for the vindictiveness of the man’s reply. ​​ Among other things, it said that even if they did need someone, they wouldn’t hire him because he couldn’t even write good English.

Crushed, this young lawyer’s hurt quickly turned to anger. ​​ What right did this rude, arrogant man have to tell him that he couldn’t write the language! ​​ The man was obviously crude and uneducated — his letter was chock-full of grammatical errors! ​​ So he sat down and, in the white heat of anger, wrote a scathing reply, calculated to rip the man to shreds. ​​ When he’d finished, however, as he was reading it over, his anger began to drain away and he remembered the Bible verse, “A soft answer turns away wrath.”

No, he wouldn’t mail the letter. ​​ Maybe the man was right. ​​ English was not his native tongue. ​​ Maybe he did need to further study it. ​​ Possibly this man had done him a favor by making him realize he did need to work harder on perfecting his English. ​​ He tore up the letter and wrote another. ​​ This time he apologized for the previous letter, explained his situation, and thanked the man for pointing out his need for further study.

Two days later he received a phone call inviting him to New York for an interview. ​​ A week later he went to work for them as a correspondent. ​​ Later, he became vice president and executive officer of the company, destined to succeed the man he had hated and sought revenge against for a fleeting moment — and then resisted.

Life is filled with choices, isn’t it? ​​ Most of those choices have a reason and a motive behind them. ​​ Some of our choices can have long-lasting effects, as that illustration pointed out. ​​ The only choice in this life that will change the direction of our lives for eternity is the personal choice to believe in Jesus Christ as one’s Lord and Savior and follow Him. ​​ In verse 28, after describing His relationship to His heavenly Father, He looked around at His listeners and said: “you do not know him.” Do you know God? It is not possible to know God without having a personal and intimate relationship with Him. ​​ It’s not possible without knowing, following and obeying the One whom He has sent. ​​ This is an opportunity to reconsider what you believe about Jesus Christ. ​​ Please don’t turn it down. ​​ Don’t respond to the truths of God’s Word with anger, hatred, or excuses. ​​ Resist that urge. ​​ Tear up those thoughts and feelings and start over again.  ​​​​ Let God give you a fresh perspective and a new life as a result of believing in Jesus Christ and following Him. ​​ He will give you peace, joy, and purpose, with no regrets.

As the ushers prepare to collect the communication cards and the praise team comes forward to lead us in our final song let’s pray:

God, I thank you for your Word. I thank you for the truth of your Word and truth of your son, Jesus. I pray that as we leave this time together and go out into the world that we would be truth amongst the lies and that we would be light amongst the darkness. I pray that we would strive to be unified behind the Great Commission that you gave us to Pursue, Grow and Multiply Disciples. Help us to strive for holiness in our daily lives and bring revival to our hearts and minds. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

 

Believe

Doing God’s Will

(John 7:14-24)

 

INTRODUCTION

“In his article titled ‘Unreasonable Doubt,’ Jim Spiegel quotes two contemporary philosophers who have resisted belief in God for personal and not just intellectual reasons. Thomas Nagel, an atheist who authored a popular introduction to philosophy titled What Does It All Mean? wrote: ‘I want atheism to be true … It isn't just that I don't believe in God, and, naturally, hope that I'm right about my belief. It's that I hope there is no God! I don't want there to be a God; I don't want the universe to be like that.’

 

The 20th-century ethics philosopher Mortimer Adler (who was baptized quietly at age 81) confessed to rejecting religious commitment for most of his life because it ‘would require a radical change in my way of life, a basic alteration in the direction of my day-to-day choices as well as in the ultimate objectives to be sought or hoped for …. The simple truth of the matter is that I did not wish to live up to being a genuinely religious person.’”

 

Jim Spiegel, "Unreasonable Doubt," Christianity Today (2-10-11)

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2011/june/7060611.html].

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Becoming less

        • At Creation this summer, God answered a prayer I had prayed about knowing His will for me as it pertained to the church

        • He used John 3:27, 30, To this John replied, “A man can receive only what is given him from heaven . . . He must become greater; I must become less.”

        • God confirmed His message to me through two artists that performed at Creation (they basically shared the same thing about stepping back and trusting God)

        • I’ve been continuing to trust God as I become less, so Jesus can become greater, in the ministry God has given me here at Idaville Church

        • Knowing God’s will has required that I obey His Word

 

  • WE

    • How many of us would say that we want to know God’s will?

        • I believe all of us want to know God’s will for our lives

        • We also want to know God’s will for the company we work for

        • We want to know God’s will for our future spouse

        • Students want to know God’s will for their career

        • Church members want to know God’s will for the church

 

As we’ll see today, the Jews were amazed at Jesus’ teaching in the temple courts, even though He had not been trained in any of the rabbinical schools in Jerusalem. ​​ Jesus’ teaching came directly from God. ​​ Jesus challenged the crowd to prove His teaching by doing the will of God. ​​ John wants us to understand that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – Knowing God’s will, requires obeying God’s Word.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (John 7:14-24)

    • Jesus’ teaching (vv. 14-18)

        • Background

          • We know that Jesus went up to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles after His brother’s left

          • We know that He did it privately instead of publicly, because it was not yet His time to be revealed

          • It can be assumed that He went up in time for the beginning of the Feast, but we are not told that

          • The next statement about Jesus’ location is that He is teaching at the temple courts in Jerusalem

          • We also know that it was halfway through the Feast

            • It could certainly mean four days into the Feast

            • It could also simply mean that it was not the first or last day of the Feast

            • Again, we are not told a specific day during the Feast

          • Privately, instead of publicly

            • Teaching in the temple courts seems to be a pretty public thing to do, if someone is trying to remain private

            • There are two lines of thought about why Jesus would be teaching publicly in the temple courts

              • Premature “triumphal entry”

                • If Jesus would have joined His brothers and the rest of the crowd in going up to Jerusalem, it is not unlikely that they could have tried to force Him to reveal Himself prematurely [Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According to John, 311]

                • John 6:14-15, After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” ​​ Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.

                • This is certainly possible, that Jesus knew if He taught in the temple courts that He would be safe from the Jews who were trying to kill Him, but I think this second line of thinking has some good merit

              • Identity concealed

                • As Jesus begins to teach, the Jews and the crowd do not recognize Him

                • Jesus conceals His identity with others after His resurrection, but eventually reveals Himself to them

                  • Mary Magdalene thought He was the gardener until Jesus spoke her name (John 20:15-16)

                  • The two disciples on the road to Emmaus thought He was just another traveler until He broke bread and gave thanks, then they saw that it was Jesus (Luke 24:31, 35)

                • It seems that Jesus could have been concealing His identity until He shared about the miracle of healing a lame man on the Sabbath (John 7:21-23)

                  • Read John 7:25-26, 28a

                  • The crowd seems to know that the Jews were trying to kill Jesus, but as we’ll see in verse 20 they didn’t know that the Jews were trying to kill this person who was teaching with authority

          • The Jews reaction to Jesus’ teaching in the temple courts seems to support the idea that Jesus’ identity is somehow concealed from them at this point

        • The Jews are amazed

          • The Jews are asking each other the question, “How did this man get such learning without having studied?”

            • It is believed that there were at least 30 seminaries or perhaps rabbinical schools around Jerusalem during the time of Jesus’ ministry [Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary, New Testament, 499]

            • None of the Jews had seen Jesus studying at any of those seminaries or schools

            • A rabbi would have multiple disciples that he would impart his wisdom and knowledge to

              • When these disciples completed their many years of study under a rabbi, they would be ordained and become a rabbi themselves

              • No one recognized Jesus as a disciple of one of the famous rabbis

            • “On whose shoulders, then, is he standing? ​​ What traditions are his? ​​ Which rabbi has authorized his teaching office? ​​ What is the source of his reshuth (authority)?” ​​ [Burge, The NIV Application Commentary, John, 223]

            • Mark 1:22, The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law.

            • “It has often been said that Jesus taught with authority, while the scribes and Pharisees taught from authorities, quoting all the famous rabbis.” [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, New Testament Volume 1, 316]

          • Jesus was able to teach with such authority, because He is God, but He didn’t use that as His defense

        • Teaching from God

          • He knew the culture of the day and who His audience was – devout Jews

            • They had already struggled with His statement in Capernaum that He had come down from heaven, meaning from God

            • So, He chose to tell them that His teaching was not His own, but came from the One who sent Him

            • The Jews would have connected with this concept, especially since their own scriptures had stories of how God used human messengers to deliver His message to His people (the Prophets) [Carter & Wredberg, Christ-Centered Exposition: ​​ Exalting Jesus in John, 174]

          • Proof of Jesus’ teaching

            • Jesus tells the Jews that if they want to verify His teachings, to make sure they are from God, then they need to do God’s will

            • PRINCIPLE #1 – God’s desire is that His people do His will.

              • What does it mean to do God’s will?

                • We know from John 6:28-29, that to do the work God requires is to believe in Jesus

                • The same would be true for doing the will of God – it starts with believing in Jesus

                • It’s a faith commitment that calls us to action

                  • Read Matthew 28:18-20

                  • Our knowledge of God's will is not something over which we ourselves dispose, but it depends solely upon the grace of God, and this grace is, and requires to be, new every morning. That is why this proving or examining of the will of God is so serious a matter. The voice of the heart is not to be confused with the will of God, nor is any kind of inspiration or any general principal, for the will of God discloses itself ever anew only to him who proves it ever anew.

                    Dietrich Bonhoeffer in The Martyred Christian. Christianity Today, Vol. 34, no. 5.

                    [
                    https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/1998/may/3782.html]

                • It’s also a faith commitment that calls us to obedience and submission

                  • Jesus is basically saying to the Jews, “If you don’t recognize it, it’s because your hearts are unwilling to submit to God.” ​​ [Carter & Wredberg, 174]

                  • “When we rebel against God’s will, our ability to understand and comprehend spiritual truth is compromised . . . unbelief causes misunderstanding.” ​​ [Carter & Wredberg, 174]

                  • “Never confuse the will of the majority with the will of God.” ​​ [Charles Colson, Leadership, Vol. 4, no.]

                  • The Israelites followed the will of the majority the first time they approached the Promised Land instead of the will of God and they spent 40 years wondering in the desert

                  • “Leadership is inherently difficult because it requires a leader to take people where they don’t naturally want to go. ​​ So you have a choice as a leader. ​​ You can focus on leading people, or focus on being liked.” ​​ [Pastor Carey Nieuwhof cited by Daniel Henderson, Old Paths New Power, 74]

                • Application

                  • We know what God’s desire is for us, as His people, to do His will, which means believing in Jesus, making disciples for Him, and submitting to Him and His plans

                  • Have you believed in Jesus for salvation? ​​ (if not, that’s the first step – mark your Communication Card this morning)

                  • Are you making disciples for Jesus Christ? ​​ (if not, what are you waiting for – get off the bench and get in the game)

                  • Are you submitting to God’s plan for your life, your future, your churches future, etc.? ​​ (if not, what changes do you need to make to submit to His plan?)

                  • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Do God’s will by believing in Jesus, making disciples, and submitting to His plans.

              • When we do God’s will, then we will know His Word and grow in His Word

              • Knowing God’s will, requires obeying God’s Word.

              • “When men are wholly, completely consecrated to the will of God and want to do that above everything else, then they find out that Christ’s teaching is divine, that it is the teaching of God.” ​​ [G. Campbell Morgan cited by Wiersbe, 316]

          • Purpose in our speaking

            • The one who speaks on his own

              • This person is only concerned with gaining honor for himself

              • I’m always cautious when a pastor is Scripture light and personal story heavy

              • When a pastor starts talking more about themselves in a sermon and less about God, we should be concerned

              • If the message points to the pastor and not to God and His will, then we should be concerned

              • The same can be true of anyone who is teaching God’s Word

            • The one who works for the honor of the one who sent him

              • PRINCIPLE #2 – Our teaching of God’s Word should point to Him.

                • This is what Jesus is saying to the Jews about His teaching

                • He is not teaching His own material

                • He is not the originator of His teachings

                • He only teaches what the Father has told Him to teach

                • He is faithfully fulfilling His role as God’s messenger

                • That’s always been my goal as a preacher and teacher, it’s to point people to Jesus through the messages that God gives me as His vessel

              • Man of truth, nothing false

                • Jesus was a man of truth

                  • Those who accused Him, during His trial, had to make up false statements about Him

                  • Pilot couldn’t find anything illegal or false in Him

                  • That’s why Jesus was able to take our punishment on Himself when He hung on the cross – He was perfect, without sin

                • We should all strive to be men and women of truth

                  • This happens when we choose to do God’s will

                  • Knowing God’s will, requires obeying God’s Word.

            • Jesus’ purpose in teaching at the temple courts was to point people to God – to be a faithful messenger of God

        • Jesus begins to get to the center of what was happening in the hearts of the Jews

    • Jesus’ questions (vv. 19-20)

        • Q1 – Has not Moses given you the law?

          • Jesus is continuing to define what God’s will is and to show the Jews that they are not obeying God’s will as outlined in the law

            • The Jews prided themselves in the fact that they were God’s chosen people

            • They prided themselves in having received the Ten Commandments at Mt. Sinai

            • They prided themselves in knowing the law and the Torah

          • Yet, they are not obeying the law, and Jesus points this out with His second question

        • Q2 – Why are you trying to kill me?

          • Jesus takes them right back to their own standard, the Ten Commandments

          • This was the standard that they took pride in as God’s chosen people

          • And, yet, they were not following the law

            • Exodus 20:13, “You shall not murder.”

            • James 2:10, For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.

          • Application

            • We all know the Ten Commandments and I’m pretty sure none of us has murdered anyone

            • Yet, Jesus and John go beyond the physical act of taking someone’s life to the attitude of our heart

            • They consider anger towards a brother or sister the same as murder

              • Matthew 5:21-22a, “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ ​​ But I tell that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.”

              • 1 John 3:15, Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.

              • 1 John 4:20-21, If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. ​​ For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. ​​ And he has given us this command: ​​ Whoever loves God must also love his brother.

            • How are we doing with anger or hate towards a brother or sister?

            • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Confess my anger or hatred towards a brother or sister to God and to the individual(s).

              • That’s where healing begins

              • That’s where love and unity start

              • God knows the attitude of our hearts

            • Obedience to the law was never designed to save us from our sins

              • The law was designed to show us our sin and a need for a Savior

              • PRINCIPLE #3 – God’s law was given to point us to Jesus.

                • Galatians 3:24, So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.

                • Romans 10:4, Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

            • God knows our heart and whether or not we are living with unconfessed anger and hatred toward a brother or sister

          • Jesus knew the attitudes and thoughts of the Jews even when the crowd didn’t and we understand that from their response

        • Crowds response

          • “You are demon-possessed”

            • They did not mean that Jesus was actually possessed by a demon

            • It could be translated, “You are crazy!”

            • It has the idea of the crowd saying to Jesus, “You’re paranoid!”

            • The crowd was obviously not trying to kill Him

            • They don’t even know who He is at this point (that’s coming in verses 25-27)

          • “Who is trying to kill you?”

            • It’s hard to keep a secret sometimes, isn’t it?

              • On Wednesday evening after the service, one of the children let it slip that a surprise was coming

              • The teacher’s eyes got big and they looked at the child, and put their pointer finger to their lips (shhh, it’s a secret)

            • Just imagine the Jews surprise when Jesus announces their secret to the whole crowd

              • I can only imagine that their eyes got large and they began looking back-and-forth at each other

              • I can also imagine that when they met privately after this event, that they were questioning and accusing each other of sharing their plot (“you did it didn’t you, I knew you couldn’t keep a secret!”)

        • Jesus begins to reveal Himself to the Jews and the crowd as He defends Himself

    • Jesus’ defense (vv. 21-23)

        • Sabbath law

          • The Sabbath law is part of the Ten Commandments

          • Exodus 20:8-11, “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. ​​ Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. ​​ On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. ​​ For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. ​​ Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

          • So the Jews were angry with Jesus because He healed a lame man on the Sabbath and told him to take up his mat and carry it to his house

            • In defining what it meant to not do any work on the Sabbath, the Jews had added their interpretation to the law

            • If someone carried anything from a public place to a private place on the Sabbath, that was considered work, and was prohibited

            • We find this event in John 5:1-18 (we’ve already studied that, but Jesus is referencing that healing here)

          • Jesus now points out what the Jews do when two commands conflict with each other

          • “Rabbinic casuistic arguments set laws side by side and determined the priority of one law over another when in any life situations two or more laws seemed to be in conflict.” ​​ [Borchert, The New American Commentary, John 1-11, 285]

        • Circumcision

          • The Jews said that Moses gave them circumcision, but it actually happened all the way back with Abraham

            • God commanded Abraham to begin the practice of circumcision for all male children born into or acquired by his family (Genesis 17:1-27)

            • It was a covenantal act between God and Abraham

            • Circumcision was to be done when the boy was eight days’ old

            • The Lord told Moses the same thing, On the eighth day the boy is to be circumcised (Leviticus 12:3)

          • When a male child was born, and the eighth day fell on the Sabbath, the Jews would “break” the Sabbath law in order to fulfill the circumcision covenant

          • Jesus used a principle known in Judaism as “light to heavy” or “lesser to greater” in order to defend His action of healing of the Sabbath [Michaels, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Gospel of John, 445]

            • Jesus considered circumcision as the “perfecting” of only one part of the body

            • He considered healing as the “perfecting” of the whole body

          • He considered circumcision the lesser/light and healing the greater/heavy

        • Healing

          • So, Jesus uses this Judaic principle that would have been familiar to the Jews to defend healing the man on the Sabbath

          • He also used it to defend against their desire and plot to kill Him for “breaking” the Sabbath law

          • Jesus did not see Himself as breaking the Sabbath law, but as fulfilling the law of God

        • That brought Him to His final exhortation

    • Jesus’ exhortation (v. 24)

        • Stop judging by mere appearances

          • The Jews were judging Jesus “according to the flesh” [Michaels, 448]

          • They didn’t like what Jesus was teaching

          • They probably didn’t like that He was gaining a following, which took disciples away from them

          • They were judging Jesus based on their feelings about Him instead of the truths of God’s Word

          • They may have claimed that they wanted to know God’s will, but they refused to obey God’s Word

          • Knowing God’s will, requires obeying God’s Word.

        • Make a right judgment

          • Had they been obeying God’s Word, they would have been able to make a right judgment about who Jesus was

          • That is what Jesus is challenging them to do now – obey God’s Word!

 

  • YOU

    • Are you doing God’s will by believing in Jesus, making disciples, and submitting to His plans?

    • Do you need to confess your anger or hatred towards a brother or sister, to God and to the individual(s)?

 

  • WE

    • When we do these two things, we’ll see love and unity abound at Idaville Church

    • We’ll be revitalized as a body of believers, focusing on a common goal, and seeing the kingdom of God increase

 

CONCLUSION

We can get caught up in self-righteousness like Thomas Nagel was in the introduction. ​​ We want our ideas, feelings, and plans to be right at all cost.

 

Consider these two questions as we close:

        • How do you treat people who are different from you? ​​ (age, music, dress, priorities, etc.)

        • Do you excuse in yourself what you accuse in others?

11

 

Believe

A Love, Hate Relationship

(John 7:1-13)

 

INTRODUCTION

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.

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Working out

        • 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

    • Food

        • 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

 

  • WE

    • 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)

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (John 7:1-13)

    • Temptation (vv. 1-5)

        • After this

          • 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”

        • Jesus’ brothers

          • 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

          • Unbelief

            • 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

          • 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

        • 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

          • Application

            • 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

 

  • YOU

    • 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

    • We need to boldly proclaim the truths of the Gospel, without fear, no matter what others may think

 

CONCLUSION

“Dear Fear-Of-What-Others-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).

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2012/january/4010212.html].

12

 

Believe

Will You Stay Or Will You Go?

(John 6:60-71)

 

INTRODUCTION

We are all probably familiar with a couple of Christian leaders who have renounced their faith recently.

 

Joshua Harris, author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye, announced on July 26th that he and his wife were separating. ​​ In a follow-up post on Instagram he made this statement, “The information that was left out of our announcement is that I have undergone a massive shift in regard to my faith in Jesus. ​​ The popular phrase for this is ‘deconstruction,’ the biblical phrase is ‘falling away.’ ​​ By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian. ​​ Many people tell me that there is a different way to practice faith and I want to remain open to this, but I’m not there now.”

 

Right on the heels of Joshua Harris’ announcement was Marty Sampson’s announcement on Instagram. ​​ He said, “Time for some real talk. ​​ I’m genuinely losing my faith, and it doesn’t bother me. ​​ Like, what bothers me now is nothing. ​​ I am so happy now, so at peace with the world. ​​ It’s crazy. . . This is a soapbox moment so here I go . . . How many preachers fall? ​​ Many, no one talks about it. ​​ How many miracles happen. ​​ Not many. ​​ No one talks about it. ​​ Why is the Bible full of contradictions? ​​ No one talks about it. ​​ How can God be love yet send four billion people to a place, all ‘coz they don’t believe? ​​ No one talks about it. ​​ Christians can be the most judgmental people on the planet – they can also be some of the most beautiful and loving people. ​​ But it’s not for me.” ​​ He later clarified that he wouldn’t say he has “renounced” his faith but would say “it’s on incredibly shaky ground.”

 

[https://www.christianpost.com/news/hillsong-worship-leader-clarifies-he-hasnt-renounced-faith-but-its-on-incredibly-shaky-ground.html].

 

This is important when we read what John said in 1 John 2:18-19, Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. ​​ This is how we know it is the last hour. ​​ They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. ​​ For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Fully committed

        • Judy and I have always believed that marriage is “until death do us part.”

          • We were both Christians long before we knew each other, which formed that belief in us

          • Divorce has never been a word that is used or talked about in our marriage – it’s not an option for us

          • That doesn’t mean we haven’t argued with each other, been angry with other, or taken some time apart to cool down

        • We feel the same way about our relationship with Jesus

          • When we made the commitment to follow Jesus and be His disciple, it was a lifetime commitment we were making

          • Renouncing our faith is not a word that is used or talked about in our relationship with Jesus – it’s not an option for us

 

  • WE

    • Fully Committed

        • Perhaps every one of us is fully committed to something or someone

          • Are we fully committed to our spouses?

          • Are we fully committed to our job?

          • Are we fully committed to Idaville Church?

          • Are we fully committed to Jesus Christ?

        • Everyone take a moment to consider what you are fully committed to

 

Jesus has been sharing what most refer to as, His “Bread of Life” discourse. ​​ It started after the feeding of the 5,000. ​​ He was making some statements that were difficult for the Jews and His disciples to believe and accept. ​​ He had told them that He had come down from heaven and that in order to receive eternal life and live forever, they had to eat His flesh and drink His blood, which simply meant they had to come to Him and believe in Him – they had to believe in His perfect sacrifice for them on the cross. ​​ This was definitely not the kind of “king” they were looking for, and as we’ll see today, not someone they wanted to continue to follow. ​​ That did not come as a surprise to Jesus. ​​ What John wants us to understand is that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – Jesus knows who His true disciples are.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (John 6:60-71)

    • Going (vv. 60-66)

        • Disciple’s grumbling

          • On hearing it

            • This is probably referring to three things that Jesus had just taught them

              • He had come down from heaven as the bread of life (we know that offended the Jews, but perhaps it offended His disciples as well)

              • Jesus’ death was the only way for them to receive eternal life (that wasn’t their idea of a Messiah/King)

              • The use of the metaphor for believing in Jesus – eating His flesh and drinking His blood

            • At least one of those teachings, but probably all three, are what is being referred to here as what they heard

          • His disciples

            • Most of the time when we see the word “disciple” used we think of the Twelve Disciples that followed Jesus wherever He went, but there is a distinction here

              • In verse 67 we’ll see Jesus speak directly to the Twelve (that’s the first time this word is used)

              • Earlier in John we see that many people believed in Jesus name, but were not truly disciples

              • John 2:23-25, Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many people saw the miraculous signs he was doing and believed in his name. ​​ But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. ​​ He did not need man’s testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man.

            • “At the most elementary level, a disciple is someone who is at that point following Jesus, either literally by joining the group that pursued him from place to place, or metaphorically in regarding him as the authoritative teacher. ​​ Such a ‘disciple’ is not necessarily a ‘Christian’, someone who has savingly trusted Jesus and sworn allegiance to him, given by the Father to the Son, drawn by the Father and born again by the Spirit.” ​​ [Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According To John, 300]

            • John 8:31-32, To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. ​​ Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

            • As we’ll see in just a moment, these “disciples” will not hold to Jesus’ teaching any more

          • Hard teaching

            • Jesus’ teaching was not hard to understand

            • These “disciples” knew exactly what Jesus was teaching them

            • It was hard in the sense of being offensive, harsh, and intolerable

            • They didn’t like what He was teaching them, because it offended them (Jesus was going to die for them, and following Him meant they had to die also – dying to self and/or martyrdom)

          • Who can accept it?

            • Other translations have, “who can hear, listen, or understand it?”

            • The original Greek means “accept” with the idea of obeying Jesus’ teachings

            • So, being a disciple of Jesus is more than just hearing His words, but accepting them and being obedient to them

            • That’s the intent of John 8:31, holding to the teachings of Jesus – it’s continuing to be present, to persevere, to cleave to or hold fast to His Words

            • Application

              • Have you accepted Jesus’ teachings?

              • Are you being obedient to His teachings?

              • Are you holding to, cleaving to, and persevering in His teachings?

              • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Make sure that I’m not just hearing Jesus’ teachings, but accepting them and being obedient to them.

              • Being obedient to and holding on to Jesus’ teachings is evidence that we are really His disciples.

              • Jesus knows who His true disciples are.

          • He also knows what they are talking about, so He responds to their grumbling

        • Jesus’ response

          • Jesus knows what they are saying

            • PRINCIPLE #1 – Jesus is omniscient (all-knowing)

              • This principle continues to come up each week for the past several weeks, which means that it’s an important principle that God wants us to grasp, accept, and understand

              • In fact, this principle will be seen in vv. 64 and 70

            • The knowledge of what His disciples were grumbling about was supernatural in nature – He knows their hearts

            • So, He addresses their concern

          • Does this offend you?

            • Jesus’ response lets us know that they were offended by His teachings, and not that they didn’t understand His teachings

            • Jesus’ next statement challenges them

              • If they’re offended simply by His teachings about how eternal life is obtained, through His death, burial, and resurrection, how will they react when it actually happens

              • Jesus has been telling them that He is going to give His life for the world (John 6:51)

              • He is now telling them that His ascension, back to heaven, will only come after His death, burial, and resurrection

            • Then He explains that the Spirit gives life and that flesh counts for nothing

          • Spirit gives life

            • Wait a minute, in verses 41-59 Jesus talked all about how the bread, which represented His flesh, will be given for the life of the world, so that human beings could experience eternal life and live forever

              • Now He’s saying that flesh doesn’t count for anything, and that the Spirit gives life

              • We have to understand that Jesus is not talking about His flesh here

              • He is talking about trying to understand His word in our humanness

              • Read 1 Corinthians 1:18-31

              • He is also talking about trying to obtain eternal life in our own strength

                • How many of us have done that in the past?

                • We think that being religious will get us to heaven

                • We think that following the correct philosophical ideas will bridge the gap between us and God

                • We think that being moral will someone please God to the point of Him allowing us into His kingdom

                • We think that good works will punch our ticket for eternity

                • None of things bridge the gap between sinful people and a Holy God

                • Isaiah 59:2, But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.

                • Proverbs 14:12, There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.

              • I cannot make someone fall in love with Jesus.

                It really came home for me, literally, with my own teenage daughter, who, 18 months ago, was not in love with Jesus. I spent nights crying, bawling, praying to the Lord. Here, I am known for my ability to communicate, but there was nothing I could do for my own daughter that would make her fall in love with Jesus. Of course I could still guide and lead her, but I was powerless to convict her.

                I prayed, ‘God, either your Spirit comes into her or your Spirit doesn't. It doesn't matter how great a dad I am. I cannot bring her to life.’

                One day she came into my room and said, ‘You were right, Dad. The Holy Spirit was not in me. But now he is.’ She talked about how near she was to God and how everything had changed. My wife and I were skeptical. We wanted to see evidence of change. But 18 months later, I can say she really is a new creation. I didn't do that. It was the Holy Spirit.

                Condensed from our sister publication Leadership Journal, © 2010 Christianity Today International. For more articles like this, visit Leadershipjournal.net.

                Francis Chan, "Catching Waves,” LeadershipJournal.net (posted 5-17-10)

                [
                https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2010/june/3060710.html]

            • The words He has spoken are Spirit and they are life

              • Jesus’ teaching about His ultimate sacrifice for the sins of the world is the only way to bridge the gap that sin has created between us and God

              • 1 Timothy 2:5, For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.

              • 1 Peter 3:18, For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God.

              • Romans 5:8, But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (ESV)

              • John 3:16, For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

              • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Believe in Jesus and His words, so I can have eternal life.

            • Perhaps there are people here today who have not believed in Jesus

            • Jesus knew that some of His “disciples” did not believe His words

          • Jesus knew who the true believers were

            • PRINCIPLE #1 – Jesus is omniscient (all-knowing)

              • None of this came as a surprise to Jesus, because He already knew, from the beginning, which of them did not believe

              • He knew their hearts and why they claimed to be His disciple

              • He knew their motives for following Him and that it wasn’t because they believed His words

              • Jesus knows who His true disciples are.

            • He also knew who was going to betray Him, but we’ll look at that in verses 70-71

          • Jesus reminded them of what He had already said, about God drawing people to Him – God’s sovereignty (John 6:37-40)

          • What we see next is the action of these “disciples”

        • Disciple’s action

          • It seems that as soon as Jesus finished sharing with them, that these “disciples” turned back and no longer followed Jesus

          • This wasn’t just a temporary turning away from Jesus and not following Him any more

            • The verb for “turned back/withdrew” is aorist, meaning that it was decisive and not temporary – they had made up their minds about Jesus and His teachings

            • The verb for “followed” is imperfect, which shows how permanent their decision was

          • “These former followers, literally, ‘went away to the things they had left behind’ and no longer ‘kept moving about’ with Jesus. ​​ In other words, they renounced their discipleship and fell away. ​​ Jesus was not the Messiah they expected.” [Köstenberger, Bake Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, John, 220]

          • PRINCIPLE #2 – Not everyone who claims to be a disciple of Jesus is a Christian.

            • This has been proven true in our own day with Joshua Harris, Marty Sampson, and others

            • Perhaps we all know of someone who claimed to be a Christian, but later turned away from the Lord

            • Maybe every one of us has heard another person say, “I tried Christianity, but it didn’t work for me.”

            • Jesus taught about true and false disciples through a parable found in Matthew 13:1-23

              • He used the imagery of a field and different kinds of soil to help us understand how the Gospel of Jesus Christ is received by human beings

              • Path/Hard soil (seed never penetrates the soil, birds came and ate it) – someone hears the message and does not understand it, Satan comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart

              • Rocky soil (not much soil, sprang up quickly, scorched by the sun, withered because of no root) – someone who hears the word and receives it readily with joy, but it only lasts a short time, because when trouble and persecution come, they fall away

              • Thorny soil (the thorns grew up with the seed and choked it) – someone who hears the word, but the worries of life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful

              • Good soil (the seed grew and produced a crop) – someone who hears the word and understands it

              • What kind of soil are we?

                • If we are hard, rocky, or thorny soil, then we are only claiming to be a “disciple” of Jesus Christ and not a Christian

                • Jesus knows who His true disciples are.

            • Peter taught about making our calling and election sure

              • Read 2 Peter 1:3-11

              • If our relationship with Jesus Christ is genuine, and we are true disciples, then that faith will motivate us to pursue the qualities of goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love

              • Are you pursuing those qualities?

              • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Make my calling and election sure, by pursuing the qualities listed in 2 Peter 1:5-7 in increasing measure.

            • “It is impossible to be a genuine disciple merely for a time. ​​ You either turn from your sin, place your faith in Jesus Christ, and follow him until you get to heaven, or you don’t. ​​ There is no middle ground!” ​​ [Carter & Wredberg, Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in John, 165]

        • Jesus now turns His attention away from the unbelievers (former disciples) and talks to the Twelve Disciples He has chosen and called

    • Staying (vv. 67-71)

        • Jesus’ question

          • Jesus asks if they want to leave too, but the way the question is structured in the Greek, Jesus was expecting a negative response – the structure demands the answer, NO!

          • We see that Peter’s confession of faith supports that answer

        • Peter’s confession of faith

          • It’s not just Peter’s confession of faith, because he uses the plural, “we”

          • The Twelve don’t know of anyone else they should follow, because no one else is Jesus

            • Jesus is the only One who has the words of eternal life

            • Peter implies that all Twelve of them are not offended by Jesus’ words

              • They believe that He is the bread of life that came down from heaven

              • They believe that the only way to have eternal life is to believe in Jesus’ perfect sacrifice by giving His life for the world

              • They understand the metaphor of eating Jesus’ flesh and drinking His blood, as meaning to accept His death for all humanity

          • Firm conviction

            • In Peter’s statement, “We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God”, the “we” and “you are” are both emphatic, meaning that it is a firm conviction

            • The Twelve have arrived at this firm conviction through a thorough process of watching and listening to Jesus

            • There is no doubt in their minds that Jesus is the Holy One of God

            • PRINCIPLE #3 – True disciples of Jesus believe and know that He is God!

              • Do you believe and know that Jesus is God?

              • Do you have a firm conviction that there is no one else to go to and no other way to have eternal life, except through believing in Jesus Christ and His death, burial, and resurrection?

          • Jesus replies to Peter’s confession of faith

        • Jesus’ reply

          • Jesus begins his reply by clarifying with the Twelve that He has chosen them

          • Jesus then brings a corrective to Peter’s confession, that represented the whole group of Twelve

          • While Peter was not yet aware of Judas’ betrayal, Jesus was, which leads us back to PRINCIPLE #1 – Jesus is omniscient (all-knowing)

          • Jesus tells the Twelve that one of them is the devil

            • Most English translations have “is a devil.”

            • The Greek literally has it as “is the devil.”

          • Jesus knows who His true disciples are.

          • We see John’s note in parenthesis

            • John is able to give us this note, because he is writing after Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection and Judas’ betrayal

            • Jesus was talking about Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot

              • Most of the time Judas is referred to as Judas Iscariot

              • We know Judas’ father’s name, but we also know his place of origin (what town he was from)

              • Most scholars agree that Iscariot is a transliteration of the Hebrew word meaning, “man of Kerioth” [Carson, 304]

              • That would have been the town where he and his family were from

            • He was one of the Twelve, but later betrayed Jesus

              • I’m sure that Peter and the other disciples assumed that because Jesus chose them that everyone believed in Him the same way

              • This shows the ability of human beings to be able to fake true discipleship, at least for a little while

              • Eventually the truth will be revealed, because they cannot hide who they really are

              • There should be evidence of the fruit of the Spirit in addition to the qualities Peter listed in his second letter (2 Peter 1:5-7)

 

  • YOU

    • It can be very easy to simply hear Jesus’ teaching, but not accept them or be obedient to them

        • Being a true disciple of Jesus means accepting His words and being obedient to them

        • It also means making our calling and election sure by adding to our faith the qualities of goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love

    • Before you can add those qualities to your faith, you have to have genuine faith in Jesus

        • Genuine faith comes through believing that Jesus is God

        • Believing that He willingly died on the cross to take your punishment for sin – He saved you from eternal separation from God

        • I encourage you to make that decision today

 

  • WE

    • We can’t naively believe that everyone who claims to be a disciple of Jesus is a Christian

    • We need to be praying that each of us will pursue goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love

        • That is evidence of a transformed life

        • Unbelievers will recognize a difference in us

        • It will move us toward unity as a body of believers

 

CONCLUSION

“If you have any knowledge at all of human nature, you know that those who only admire the truth will, when danger appears, become traitors. The admirer is infatuated with the false security of greatness; but if there is any inconvenience or trouble, he pulls back. Admiring the truth, instead of following it, is just as dubious a fire as the fire of erotic love, which at the turn of the hand can be changed into exactly the opposite—to hate, jealousy, and revenge. Christ, however, never asked for admirers, worshipers, or adherents. He consistently spoke of ‘followers’ and ‘disciples.’”

—Søren Kierkegaard, Danish philosopher and theologian (1813–1855)

 

Søren Kierkegaard, unknown; submitted by Bill White, Paramount, California

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2009/may/1052509.html].

11