Skip Heitzig - John 7:1-36
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Father, thank you for the opportunity we have to, in the middle of our week, put everything aside, come from different parts of this city and even area, even the state, for I know people who travel from a long distance to come on Wednesday nights and enjoy your word. And Father, we open our hearts, our hearts, individually to you. Father, we pray that you would speak to us, that in speaking, Lord, that we would hear your voice through the text of scripture. That the principles, Lord, would sink, Lord, beneath just the ears and into our very core and affect what we do, how we think, how we treat people, how we make choices, and even how we feel about life. We're giving you permission, Lord, as the great physician to do heart surgery on each and every one of us in Jesus' name. Amen.
One of the things that I loved about worship tonight and every time we gather is the praise begins and it escalates through the worship service. It's like layer upon layer upon layer of an acknowledgment, a truth that we sing, and another layer of praise and adoration. And I just love the idea of telling God for about 30 minutes how cool He is and how much we love Him and how much we appreciate Him.
And I love that because what we're going to read is the exact opposite. Chapter 7 takes a change from the previous part of John where the hatred and animosity toward Jesus escalates. It's layer upon layer upon layer, and it increases until, and we'll read it when we get to chapter 11, where we read from that day forward they plotted on how they might put Jesus to death. Jesus has been in Galilee. That's where we left off in chapter 6.
Now he is going to Jerusalem. And the Jewish leaders, those in Judea, they have been eyeing him since his first visit. They have heard reports about him. Even though he has done miracles in their midst, in their city, they will plot on how they might put him to death.
Now, between chapter 6 and chapter 7 there is a gap. There is a gap of about a half a year, about six months, leaving off in chapter 6 and going into chapter 7. And it's not that Jesus didn't do anything for six months, like he took a vacation and hung out and was laying out on the beach at the Mediterranean Sea, hanging out with his disciples. He was very active, and the activities are recorded in the first three gospels, the Synoptics. But because John has his own story to tell, these are just events he doesn't include. So we have a gap chronologically between chapter 6 and 7 of about six months.
But then John wants to chronologically orient us, and so he opens up chapter 7, "After these things", after the things that happened in chapter 6 of John, as well as the other accounts that are given. "After these things, Jesus walked in Galilee, for he did not want to walk in Judea down south because the Jews sought to kill him. Now the Jews' Feast of the Tabernacles was at hand."
Tabernacles takes place in the fall time of the year, late September, early October. It is a festival of incredible joy. And I'll tell you more about that as we go through the chapter. It is probably, of all the festivals, I love Passover, and I've been to Jerusalem during this feast. But the joy and the celebration and the anticipation for this feast, according to Josephus, the Jewish historian, it was the most important, the most significant, and the most joyful of all the feasts.
Now, Tabernacles was one of three what we call pilgrim feasts. And what that means is no matter where you live within a certain vicinity of the city of Jerusalem, you will make it your ambition to go up three times a year and celebrate these three feasts, Passover, Pentecost, Tabernacles. Or Pesach in Hebrew, Shavuot for Pentecost, and Sukkot. Sukkot means booths.
So the Feast of Tabernacles, or the Feast of Booths, was celebrated by building these little booths, these little shacks, these little lean-tos, commemorating the wilderness wanderings of their forefathers thousands of years before when Moses led the children of Israel through the desert. And they were camping out under the stars, and God provided for them. Once a year they were to come together and celebrate joyful feast for a whole week, a total of eight days, celebrating that wilderness march, that wilderness wandering, that happened thousands of years before.
Now, chapter 7 is a long chapter. Can you see this got 53 verses? So maybe I'm too ambitious thinking I can cover it in one night. I'd like to, but don't hold your breath. However, as a long chapter, it's easily divided. There are normal divisions to it. And I thought I should tell you what those divisions are so you can orient yourself. You ready? It's pretty easy.
Chapter 7 can be divided into the first section, before the feast; the second section, during the feast; and the third section, after the feast. That's exactly right. So verse 1 through 10 highlights on before the Feast of Tabernacles. Verse 11 through verse 39, during the Festival of Tabernacles. And verse 40 through 53, after.
But I think we can do better than that. You could look at it in terms of the people's response to Jesus. And I would give three words that would sum up chapter 7 of the gospel of John. The first word is disbelief. There are a group of people who just do not believe in him. And interestingly, his own brothers are part of that group. The ones he was raised with in Nazareth are part of that group, disbelief.
Second, debate. People aren't sure who Jesus is. They're debating back and forth. Who is he? What do the leaders think about him? And then finally, the third word is division. Division, there's a division over him, and it's very pronounced. So disbelief, debate, and division are three words that would sum up the gospel of John chapter 7.
"After these things, Jesus walked in Galilee for he did not want to walk in Judea because the Jews sought to kill him." That is, the Jewish leaders, the Sanhedrin in particular. "Now, the Jews' Feast of the Tabernacles was at hand." Now, I told you that this lasted a week, eight days. The first day and the last day, the eighth day, were days of rest, days of Shabbat, Sabbath. There was still a celebration, and the celebrations took place in the temple. But they were days of rest with the festival days in between.
I mentioned that booths were built, or these little lean-tos. So the way the law required it be celebrated is that you build, using branches, these little shanties, these little shacks. And you have to construct it so that the thatches, the branches, are wide enough for you to see the stars at night.
So get this. For a whole week, you go camping with your family outside of your house. Now, for some people, that wouldn't be too fun. But for others, especially kids, that's fun. Hey boys, daughters. Let's move outside. We're going to sleep outside tonight. And they're under the stars, and they're going to ask, daddy, what on earth are we doing here? And daddy would say, well, our forefathers marched for years through the wilderness. And while they were out there looking up at these same stars, God took care of them. God provided for them.
Now, there were certain things that occurred in Jerusalem to commemorate the wilderness wanderings. One of them was that the temple precincts at night were illuminated. They were lit up. And you say, how were they lit up? There was no electricity. So they had these huge pots, and they filled them with oil, and they had four of these potted lamps to each pole that was erected in the temple precincts. Now, keep in mind the temple is 35 acres. So they would have these young priests in training crawl up there and pour oil in so that every night it was illuminated.
And according to the writings, it was so bright in Jerusalem that every courtyard of every house in the city of Jerusalem at night felt the glow. You could see the glow from the lights. We were just in New York. I was speaking in New Jersey, and if you walk through New York City, like Times Square, 1:00 in the morning, it's as bright as daylight. If you've got a camera and you're taking pictures, you don't even have to have fast film. I mean, there's just so much light. So the glow of Times Square, those huge screens, they eliminate the whole city.
So in Jesus' day with the temple, it was illuminated. Now, what did that, think of something that happened in the wilderness wanderings that that would be emblematic of. Do you remember what led them through the wilderness? A pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day. So the illumination of the temple precincts were to remind people God gave us a GPS system for 40 years.
And then something else occurred. The priest would walk down from the temple down the steep slope to the Gihon Spring, the water source of Jerusalem. Down into the City of David, and he would take a gold pitcher, and at the Pool of Siloam, fill it with water, go back up to the temple, go up to the altar of sacrifice, and pour water at the base of the altar. So you have water on the rocks of the altar. What would that be an emblem of? Water coming out of the rock in the wilderness. They didn't have water. God said go up and smack that rock. Just touch it with your rod. And water flowed out of the rock. So to give people, especially kids, the visual of God's provision and protection in the desert, those things were done. And I just love that. I love it. What a fun way to go to church. Let's go camping.
So the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem, it was a holy feast, but it was a fun feast. It was a joyous feast. And the kids, there were games, and there were stories. And I love the idea that it made it fun for the kids. And they were told to have joy in their celebration.
Verse 3. "His brothers", Jesus' brothers, therefore, "said to him, 'Depart from here", here being Galilee, "and go into Judea, where Jerusalem is, that your disciples also may see the works that you are doing. For no one does anything in secret while he himself seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.' For even", and notice this, "for even his brothers did not believe in him. And Jesus said to them, 'My time has not yet come. Your time is always ready. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify of it that its works are evil. You go up to this feast. I am not yet going up to the feast, for my time has not yet come."
Now, when it says his brothers, it means his half brothers. We know that Jesus was born by the Holy Spirit conceiving in the womb of Mary, an immaculate conception. Jesus was born of a virgin. She had never had any relations, physical relations, with a man. Jesus came from her womb. But after that, the Bible indicates in a few different texts that they had normal marital relationships, and that they had boys and girls. Jesus had brothers and sisters.
And Matthew chapter 13 verse 55 actually gives us the names of his brothers. James was one of them. Joses, J-O-S-E-S, an early form of the word Joseph, was another brother of Jesus, half brother of Jesus. So he was the junior because it was Mary and Joseph. So this was Joe Jr. So you had Simon, James, Joe Jr., Simon, not Peter, but a different guy named Simon, "Shimon," and Judas. Not Iscariot, Judas, the brother of Jesus.
So here's what's interesting. At this point in the story, they do not believe that Jesus is the Messiah. They will believe eventually, of course. Because James, the half brother of Jesus, will become the leader of the church in Jerusalem eventually in the Book of Acts. He will also write the epistle, the letter from James to the church, the general epistle of the Book of James. Also, Judas, the long form of Jude, Jude will write the Book of Jude. That is the half brother of Jesus. But here it says they did not believe in him.
Which I find interesting, and I find encouraging. I do. I bet if I were to ask some of you, you would say that your family is the hardest of all the people you know to reach with the gospel. For some of you, you have been talking to and working on and praying for and given tracts to and shouting Bible verses at, slipping a tract into sandwiches. I don't know what you do. Anything you can do to get their attention, for years.
But they know you. They watched you grow up. And I remember, it was so difficult to share it with my family. Other people, strangers I could talk to, and they would be receptive. But when it comes to your own family, so it interesting that Jesus' own brothers at this point did not believe that he was the Messiah? They will, as I mentioned. But right now, they do not. There's unbelief in their hearts.
So they make a suggestion. It's interesting that they're giving Jesus advice. Jesus, we would like to be your agent here. We think you're doing things a little wrong. You're kind of doing things backward. You're hanging out here in Galilee, the back woods, the back waters. You need to go where the action is. If you want to prove that you're the Messiah, don't stay up in Galilee. And so verse four, "No one does anything in secret while he himself seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world."
Now, why are they telling Jesus that he ought to go to Jerusalem? I can think of a couple reasons. The first one, just a thought that comes to mind though, it's not the real reason. But they are brothers. And there is such a thing as sibling rivalry. You have to think that living with Jesus was awfully difficult. Don't you think? As a brother, a half brother?
I mean, Jesus is perfect all the time. He never does anything wrong. It'd be miserable to live with somebody like that as a brother. I just remember when my parents thought my brother's were perfect, and they weren't. And I would get in trouble. I was the youngest of four boys. I would get the rap for something they did. And it's like, they would, oh, look at your brother Jim or Rick or Bob. And it's like, whatever.
But it was true with Jesus. He was perfect. So hey, maybe they know they don't like him down in Jerusalem. Jesus, you ought to go down to Jerusalem. But here's another reason. I think it's really the reason. They, his brothers, his half brothers, along with all the other Jews at the time believed that the Messiah was to be a political Messiah. A political Messiah. A deliverer. Somebody who would come in and overthrow the powers that be and rescue Israel from the oppression of the Roman government and set them up as heirs of a kingdom, which the Messiah would preside over.
So here's the suggestion. Go to Jerusalem. Don't be hidden up here in Galilee. The acid test for your Messiahship is, do the leaders down in Judea sign off on you being the Messiah? If they do, maybe there's something to your claims. If you can do down there what you've been pulling off up here with all of these crowds, well maybe there's something to it.
So they give them advice. Now, it wasn't good spiritual advice, but it was good political advice. If Jesus were a political Messiah, this makes perfect sense. Go where the action is. Go to Jerusalem. Prove yourself.
But it wasn't God's advice. It might have been good advice from a human perspective, but it was not God's advice. Because there's this little thing called perfect timing that Jesus was hung up on. He would often say, my time is not yet come. When his mother suggested the turning of water into wine and making that as an initial display, he said, my time has not yet come.
And he often spoke about this time table. And we see here, verse 6, "Jesus said to them, 'My time has not yet come. Your time is always ready." What does he mean by that? They don't hate you guys down in Jerusalem. You're one of them. The world doesn't hate you. The world hates me. You go along with them. You're not telling them that they're doing anything wrong.
Notice what he says in the next verse. "The world cannot hate you, but it hates me." Now, listen carefully, you disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, you followers of him. The world hates Jesus Christ. So when you wonder, why are all those television specials coming out of Christmas and Easter trying to debunk Christianity? Another one, another one.
Why do people seemingly go out of their way, your professors at college, your colleagues at work, to target not Islam, not Buddhism, but you, Christianity. Jesus said so. "The world hates me because I testify of it, that its works are evil." Oh, that's why they hate Jesus.
You know, Jesus spoke about sin. Today, Jesus, if he were to come today, he would be called a hater. What a hater. He's always condemning, talking about sin. He's coming to forgive sin, like we're all sinners. He would. He would be called a hater. He said its deeds are evil. And he testified of it by his own life, by his own words.
You go up to the feast, Jesus said. I am not yet going up to this feast, for my time has not yet come. So they gave him advice. Jesus didn't take their advice. Is there a principle here for us? Yes, there is, psalm one. "Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stand in the way of sinners, nor sit in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law he meditates day and night." The counsel of the ungodly. It might even come from your own relatives, ungodly counsel. It might be well-meaning counsel, but it still might be ungodly counsel. So Jesus listened to their advice, and then he dismissed their advice. He didn't take it. Thank you. Not going up. See you. You guys go. It's not my time yet. Not the right time.
Now, this begs a question. Could the enemies of Jesus down in Judea, could they have killed him if he would have gone up to the feast early? What's the answer? Could they have killed him at this time, six months before the cross really was going to happen? No, not at all. Because his time had not yet come. So all of his life was under the perfect prescription and timetable of his father.
However, the other principle is, you don't want to court danger unnecessarily. You don't want to tempt the Lord your God. You don't want to do something that is going to cause a revolt. That's why when they tried to make him a king in chapter 6, he withdrew from their midst. He wasn't going to allow it. And the way he didn't allow it is by escaping from their midst, hiding himself. So he waits, tells them to go up.
Verse 9. "When he had said these things to them, he remained in Galilee", that is, for a few days. "But when his brothers had gone up, then he also went up to the feast. Not openly, but as it were, in secret. Then the Jews sought him at the feast, saying, where is he? And there was much complaining among the people concerning him. Some said, he is good. Others said, no, on the contrary, he deceives the people."
Now, which of those two opinions are wrong? Actually, both are wrong. They said he's good. That's wrong. It's inaccurate. That doesn't go far enough. He's not good. He's God. Now, Jesus said no one is good but God. But listen, if he were just a man, he couldn't be a good man.
Because good men don't run around saying, I'm God. I know a lot of good men. If they say I'm God, they're not good men. They're crazy. They're deceivers. It's like, ah. So to say he's just a good man does not go far enough, doesn't give an accurate picture of him. So it's inaccurate. It's wrong.
The other one, he deceives the people, is also flatly wrong. These are rumors flying around. Jesus said I am the way, the truth, the life. He was all about the truth. Even before Pilate, he spoke the truth. And Pilate was amazed at how honest and truthful he was.
However, verse 13. "No one spoke openly of him for fear of the Jews. Now, about the middle of the feast, Jesus went up into the temple, and he taught." It says that nobody said anything in verse 13 or spoke openly of him because of fear of the Jews. Proverbs 29, the fear of man brings a snare. The fear of man brings a snare. When you do something or don't do anything because you're afraid of people, afraid of their opinions about you, it's a prison. It's a horrible way to live.
And some of us get offended by what is said about us or not said about us on social media. They didn't mention me on Facebook or in this Instagram. Where's my picture? They took all the other people's pictures. If we could rise above the fear of people, it brings a snare. The fear of man brings a snare. But whoever trusts in the Lord, same proverb, same verse, will be safe. I've always loved Paul's words in Galatians chapter 1. He said, "Do I seek to please men? For if I sought to please men, I could no longer be a bond slave of Jesus Christ."
Now, if you want to please God, you don't have to really worry about, if you worry about what God thinks about you, you don't have to worry about what anybody else thinks about you. The fear of the Lord frees you from the snare of the fear of men. Or look at it this way. If you can get on your knees before God, you can get on your feet before any man. If you just bow before Him, and you're concerned about pleasing Him and loving Him and what He thinks about your life, it just sets you free from the fear of the Jews.
Now, having said that, I don't want you to think I'm all perfect and I've never been afraid of people's opinions of myself. Listen, I've been in plenty of situations where I've been afraid to speak out for Jesus. We all have. We get intimidated by an intellect or by somebody bold or a certain situation.
And I remember the first time I wanted to share the gospel with a guy I worked with at a gas station. I worked at a gas station. But this guy was a popular kid in class, and everybody knew him in the community. And I was just so afraid that he's going to think I'm a dork if I tell him I love Jesus. He's going to say something, and he's going to shut me down. So I remember the day I decided, today's the day. Today I'm going to open my mouth and tell, listen to his name, Angus Macintosh. I know you're thinking, that guy was a cool kid in your school? What kind of a crazy school did you go to?
But Angus Macintosh was one of the cool cats. And I walked up to him, and I stumbled over a few words. And then something just kicked in. I couldn't explain it. I know now what it is. But I couldn't explain it at the time. It's just like, firing up the engine, just vroom, start it up. And I found myself sharing with him and sharing boldly with him. And then some even eloquent words came out. And I thought, where'd that come from?
You've had that experience, when the Lord just kicks it in gear and overcomes the fear. And then once that fear is overcome, they can't shut you up. Well, let me tell you about this, and why that. Wait a minute, come back here. You want to lay it on. But I tell you what, it's just beautiful when you can be free from the fear of men.
Now, "Jesus", verse 14, "about the middle of the feast", so it's a eight day feast. Around day four, he shows up. Festivities have been underway. The booths are all around Jerusalem, these little shacks and lean-tos on top of houses out in the streets, you see them everywhere. "Jesus went into the temple, and he", what does it say? "He taught." He taught.
In the temple area, the Temple Mount, and if you've gone with us to Jerusalem, you're picturing right now that 35 acre complex, the Temple Mount. 2,000 years ago on that flat surface that is still in existence today, the Temple Mount, there were two covered porches, covered porticoes, colonnaded porticoes. One was called the Royal Porch. The other was called Solomon's Portico, or Solomon's Porch. They did not service espresso at the one in Jerusalem.
But these were areas where people could congregate, and they were covered because it was shaded. And if you ever go to Israel, you understand why you need shade. It's sort of like here. It's intense sun. So rabbis would often go under the Royal Porch or Solomon's Portico and just find people who were gathered there also to have a rabbi come by and listen to sermons and teachings and explanations, stories, wisdom.
It was here, while Jesus was in Jerusalem, that he would find a ready audience. He and his disciples would go to Solomon's Porch or the Royal Porch and engage, like lots of rabbis, and would draw a crowd, gather a crowd. But it says he taught. Now, I just want to bring that to your attention. Because we often find in the New Testament Jesus preaching and teaching. In fact, the three major things he did was teaching, preaching, and healing.
Now, when he preached, or he proclaimed, it was, and I see preaching primarily as making a proclamation of truth to win the unsaved into the kingdom. Then I see teaching as once they have been preached to and they respond and come into the kingdom, now they are to be taught. Now, preaching is exciting. You see immediate results.
I was back in New Jersey and Sunday night, we had a meeting. I asked people to come forward. It was at a Methodist camp. And they said, we don't see a lot of it, but we want more of it. And so just to watch people come forward, you see an immediate response. You know what it's like. We see it a lot around here. It's awesome. That's preaching.
But now, once they respond, you need to be teaching them. Whereas preaching is exciting and you see immediate results, teaching is a bit slower. You don't see immediate results, but you see long term results. Think of the difference being between a house going up. You can pour a cement slab, and you can put up the framing in a couple days. It's awfully exciting to see it go up. It takes shape. You go, wow. Look at it. But then building from that point on to finishing date, closing date, takes a long time.
Got to put the drywall up, insulation in. There's got to be electrical has to come in. You have to do all the detail, work, et cetera. The process takes a long time. But you are building on the foundation. And we love to preach the gospel, but we also love to teach the Bible. Because we want to build solidity on the foundation that you have received and see you grow deep and grow strong. And it's a slower process. It's verse by verse. It's chapter by chapter. It's book by book. It's an hour at a time. But eventually, you find your faith growing, and it's solid, and it's unshakable.
So Jesus went to the temple, and he taught. "And the Jews marveled, saying, 'How does this man, this Jesus, how does this man know letters, having never studied?" Now, you just need to understand that that is the equivalent of saying, how does this guy know so much stuff without a seminary degree, without a college education? They're not saying Jesus is not educated, but he didn't go to one of our seminaries, one of our recognized schools. In Jerusalem at that time, there were about 30 what are called yeshivas.
And a yeshiva, if you know anything about Judaism, are schools of learning. And you go to yeshiva to be taught the Torah and now the Talmud and the writings of the sages, the Wisdom. And the yeshivas would teach young men how to be rabbis. Jesus didn't go to any of them. But he had such a depth and such a wisdom. But these leaders, they marvel. How did he get this wisdom without us giving it to him?
Who are Jesus' disciples? They were fishermen. They were blue collar workers. He didn't go to seminaries. He didn't go to yeshivas. He didn't go to the Sanhedrin. He didn't knock on Nicodemus's door saying, you know what? Man, you're just like so amazing and so brilliant. You're a teacher of the law. I need you on my team.
He got Peter and John, and you know the story of these guys. Fishermen. And in Acts chapter 4, when the fishermen, the disciples, get arrested and brought before the Sanhedrin, the Jewish leaders, it says that they marveled at them like this. They marveled at them. Because they knew that they were, listen to what it says, uneducated and untrained men, but they had perceived that they had been with Jesus.
Now, I would rather have people who are with Jesus than those who are formally trained and educated. I know a lot of people who are formally trained and educated. They don't spend much time with Jesus. But people who spend a lot of time with Jesus and don't have the education, give me those guys.
And so you have these fishermen who had been with Jesus for three years. Talk about a seminary education. You're with the master. You're hearing him. You're watching him. You're observing him.
Oh, by the way, do you remember Matthew chapter 11 Jesus praying? Father, I thank you that you have hidden these things from the wise and the prudent, and you have revealed them to babes. Isn't that beautiful? It seems that the Lord is looking for just open vessels, humble people who would say, I want to learn. I want to grow. And God will reveal himself to you. And oftentimes he'll hide some of the most profound truths from some of the most erudite individuals.
"Jesus answered", verse 16, "and said to them, 'My doctrine'", my teaching, "my doctrine is not mine, but His who sent me. If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine whether it is from God or whether I speak on my own authority. He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is true, and no unrighteousness is in him."
Now, I want to ask you two questions. These really bring up two good questions for us. Do you want to do His will? That's the first question. Do you want to do His will? That's an important question because Saul of Tarsus, who was Jewish, rabbinical, knew the law, was knocked off his horse on the way to Damascus. And once God got his attention, the first question he said is, Lord, what do you want me to do? What do you want me to do? It's a good question. Do you want to do what He wants you to do?
Now, I ask the question because it seems that there is a lot of people who say, I want to know the will of God, but tell me what it is first. Before I really say yes, I want to, tell me what it is first. Barnhouse, Donald Gray Barnhouse, once said 95% of knowing the will of God is being willing to do it before you know it it is. Are you willing to do what He wants, anyone wills to, and here it is, do His will. Not just study it, not just underline it, not just hear it, but do it. Do it.
The key to learning is obeying. Or, if you prefer, the key to learning is living. I am going to live by God's grace what is revealed to me. So that's the first question. Do you really want to do His will?
The second thing in verse 18, the second question, is whose glory is it that you're after? Whose glory is it that you're after? God's glory, or your glory? Do you want to be in the limelight? Hey, you didn't recognize me. You did you didn't mention my name. You didn't thank me for that. People need to know how good I am. You need to exonerate me. And some people want to serve the Lord in a way that they get glory. They're noticed. They're always in the limelight.
I love Moses. Moses didn't even want the job. I'm not even qualified for the job, he said. I can't even speak. God said, I want you. You're going to be my spokesperson. But I stutter. You're the man. This is going to work. Because I'm pretty good at fixing guys like you. But he just didn't want it. And I love finding those who are sort of reluctant to be in the ministry.
I'm not saying that, well, let me put it to you this way. I had a good friend of mine who helped me start this fellowship in its early stages. And I remember him saying specifically to me, don't put me in front of people. I'm not good at it. I hate it. I like to be the guy who's turning on the lights, making sure the air is OK, getting coffee going for people after the Bible study.
So I knew that next time I was out of town, that's the guy I'm going to ask to fill the pulpit for me. And I did. And he was nervous. And he hated me for it. Until he did it. And when he did it, it was so well received, and people were so blessed, and he had such a very unique gift of communicating. And he grew out of it.
But it's always an important question. Whose glory is it that you're after? You see, God is looking for vessels, vessels to use. But have you ever taken something from a container, a vessel, and when you eat it or drink it, you can taste the vessel that it's been in? It's like, what's that funny taste? Oh, that's the taste of the container. if you have canned peaches, you're tasting the can along with the peaches. Just saying.
And I remember my mom had this little tub that she used to put milk in, and she'd mix powdered milk in it in those days. Yeah, I know. So we did that. And then when she ever tried to use it for anything else, to put orange juice inside, it was polluted. It tasted like powdered milk.
So some people are vessels of God, but you taste the vessel. And the Bible says we have this treasure and, do you remember what the verse says? Earthen vessels, clay pots. Make sure that people don't taste the pot. I'm too close to Colorado. Let me say it a different way. Make sure that they don't taste the vessel as much as the contents of the vessel.
Verse 19. "Did not Moses give you the law? And yet none of you keeps the law. Why do you seek to kill me?" Now he's pointing out their irony. These leaders, these lovers of the law, lovers of the Torah, speaking about touting how great the law of Moses is. And the law says this, and quoting this rabbi and that rabbi about the law, the law, the law. Jesus said, you tout the law, but you're trying to break the sixth commandment, that is killing me. They're plotting to kill him.
Now that is a reality that is going on, and it will say that as much very shortly. But not everybody is aware of that, or they're denying that. For notice it says in verse 20, "The people answered and said, you have a demon. You're crazy. Who is seeking to kill you?" Now, what's interesting, that's what they said about John the Baptist as well, that he was demon possessed. "Jesus answered and said to them, 'I did one work, and you all marvel."
He's referring to the miracle in chapter 5 about a year before that, when he was at another feast, probably the Feast of Tabernacles, a year prior. He's at the pool of Bethesda. There was a man who had been laid there for 38 years. You know the story. Jesus healed him. Do you want to be made well? And he was made well. And it happened around the temple courts because the man went into the temple to worship God. So it was a notable miracle. That's what he's referring to.
"I did one work, and you all marvel. Moses therefore gave you circumcision, not that it was from Moses, but from the fathers, and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath." Why does he bring up the Sabbath? Because when Jesus healed the man at the pool of Bethesda in John chapter 5, they were all bummed out that the man was healed on the Sabbath. I mean, what they should have said is, a dude got healed? We've never seen that before ever. We've never done that. It happened? Wow! They said, it happened on the Sabbath. I mean, they're so rigid. So he's bringing up the Sabbath.
He said, "You circumcise on the Sabbath. If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath", a man being a man child, male child, an eight-day-old baby, "so that the law of Moses should not be broken, are you angry with me because I made a man completely well on the Sabbath?" Do you see what he's doing? This is the classic argument from lesser to greater.
Now they have the ritual of circumcision. Every male Jew on the eighth day of that child's life went through the ritual of circumcision, cutting around the foreskin of the flesh as a sign of the covenant to God. Mentioned in Genesis 17, Leviticus chapter 12, and other places. Well, you can't control when the baby's going to be born, which means the eighth day might fall on the Sabbath day. Oh, but you can't break the Sabbath. Can you? Well, they did, in effect. They circumcised on the Sabbath day, which you're not supposed to do ordinary things, ordinary work, on the Sabbath.
But they circumcised a child. Why? Because circumcision takes precedence over the Sabbath. So Jesus, in arguing from lesser to greater, OK then. You cleanse one member of a male baby's body on the Sabbath day to circumcise him, and you're mad at me that I make a whole person healed on the Sabbath day? In fact, you by circumcision are taking away something from that person, and I am giving to a person wholeness, newness of life, a fresh start. Very powerful argument.
"Do not judge", verse 24, "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with the righteous judgement." Now, that is the flip side to Matthew sermon on the mount, where Jesus said, judge not that you be not judged. And I find everybody loves to quote that when you're holding somebody accountable for something in their life, and they go, don't judge, bro. Judge not that you be not judged. Well, Jesus on the other hand said judge a righteous judgement. You can't censoriously hypocritically judge someone and consign them to eternal damnation. But you can make an evaluation if you know all the facts and circumstances. In fact, he calls you to make a righteous judgement.
"Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment. Now some of them from Jerusalem said, 'Is this not he whom they seek to kill?" See, Jesus said, you're trying to kill me. And they go, you have a demon. Nobody's trying to kill you. And they're going, psst, hey, isn't this the guy they're trying to off? They're trying to bounce this guy away.
"But look, he speaks boldly, and they say nothing to him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is truly the Christ?" In other words, you have a crowd that is utterly confused because of their leaders. Their leaders have not taken a public stand because they're afraid of the crowd. Just as people won't speak up because they're afraid of the Jewish leaders, the Jewish leaders are afraid of crowd control because lots of people love Jesus.
So the leaders have been ambiguous to put their flag down and say we're for him, you ought to be for him too, or to say he's wrong. But that's going to change. Again, there's a growing animosity as we go through. "However, we know where this man is from. But when the Messiah comes", when Christ comes, "no one knows where he is from." Now, you need to understand what that means. I just lost my whole place. You need to understand what that means.
They said, no one knows where he's from. There was a misconception. There was a tradition based upon misinterpretations of Old Testament scripture. The tradition was this. Messiah is going to come. Nobody's going to know where he's from. He's going to come all of a sudden. Nobody's going to know. And then suddenly, bam. Here he is. That was their tradition. Why was that their tradition?
Because they misinterpreted two Old Testament texts. One was Isaiah chapter 53, I think it is around verse 8, where Isaiah says, but who will declare his generation? They misinterpreted that question, who will declare his generation, to mean nobody will know where he's from. The other scripture was Malachi chapter 3, the Old Testament book of Malachi chapter 3. It says, but the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple.
So based on the misinterpretation of those two texts, a superstitious tradition developed that the Messiah will just pop out of nowhere, show up, and deliver the Jews from the oppression and take over the world basically. Now, that wasn't scriptural. The Bible tells exactly where the Messiah is going to come from, Micah chapter 5 verse 2. But you Bethlehem down in Judah, the Messiah is going to come from you. You know the verse. Enough said on that. Now I got to find my place.
Ah, "but we know where he is from. Then Jesus cried out as he taught in the temple." He raised his voice now. He's yelling. He's getting everybody's attention. "You both know me, and you know where I am from. And I have not come of myself, but He who sent me is true whom you do not know. But I know Him, for I am from Him, and He sent me. Therefore, they sought to take him, but no one laid a hand on him because his hour had not yet come. And many of the people believed in Him and said, 'When Christ comes, will he do more signs than these which this man has done?' The Pharisees heard the crowd murmuring these things concerning him. And the Pharisees and the chief priests", or the leading priests, "sent officers to take him", to apprehend him, to arrest him. "Then Jesus said to them, 'I shall be with you a little while longer, and then I go to Him who sent me."
Now, we understand what that means. Because we understand who Jesus is. And we know that Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. But they have a different view of Messiah. They don't believe he's the Messiah. He's just a dude in the temple making these claims. So they don't really get what he's saying. "You will seek me, and you will not find me. And where I am, you cannot come.' Then the Jews said among themselves, 'Where does he intend to go that we shall not find him? Does he intend to go to the dispersion among the Greeks and teach the Greeks? What is this thing that he has said, you will seek me and not find me, and where I am you cannot come?"
Now, you see the term dispersion in your Bibles? The technical term for that, in fact, the term from which we get the word dispersion is the Greek word diaspora. And some of you are familiar with the term. The diaspora were Jews who were scattered all over the world. They weren't in Jerusalem. They weren't in Israel. They weren't locals. And so they're thinking, is he planning a trip outside of the borders of Israel to speak to Jews in Gentile regions, and even to Gentiles themselves?
Now, why would they ask the question? Because if he's leaving here, if he's planning a trip outside and he's going to be speaking to Gentiles, well this is a further reason to reject him. He can't be our Messiah if he's going to include Gentiles. I mean, even Jews living in Gentile regions, to some of them, were sketchy. Galileans were sketchy to people down in Jerusalem. They were very, very narrow. So they asked the question. What does he mean by this? They're longing to find out.
"On the last day", verse 37, oh, I'm looking at the time. Time's up. We have two minutes to take communion. Am I right? Is that right? This is what happens. And the best is yet to come. I mean, listen, the real gem of the chapter is in the next two verses. Two verses. Listen, you've got to love those kids and those teachers over there who are saying that you're going to keep a promise and be on time. So we're going to come back to this, if you don't mind.
But this is taking place six months before Jesus will do what this communion signifies. The breaking of his body, the shedding of his blood, the sacrifice upon the cross. The Feast of Tabernacles taking place about six months before the next feast of Passover. This is where the dominoes tip down in Judea. And they will plot how they might destroy him.
He will be back at the Passover, and when he's back at the Passover, he's going to heal his friend. The most incredible healing ever. He's going to raise Lazarus from the dead. And that will be the trigger that causes them to say, we've got to get him, and we've got to nail him to a cross and get rid of him as soon as possible.
What they do not realize is that it has always been the plan of God to send his son into the world to die the cruel death of a sacrificial crucifixion to atone for our sins. Revelation 13, "He is the lamb crucified from the foundations of the earth." So would you take your communion cup. Would you take the clear covering off and get to the bread. And would you bow your heads.
Father, we bow not because the Bible tells us to bow our heads. It does speak about the bowing of the body and the humility of the heart. We signify that simply by a bowed head, an honor to you, in worship of you. We hold this piece of bread that speaks of the broken body of Jesus, something he knew was coming, something he predicted would happen, something he educated and informed his disciples would be the case. It was forward for them. It is looking backward for us. We look back on it. And we're told to do it often in remembrance of Jesus.
You're holding that bread in one hand, and I just wonder, while your head is bowed and your eyes are closed, I'm going to open my eyes. If you have never given your life to Christ, or you need to come back him and get right with him, if you just raise your hand right now, with your other hand. Just raise it up.
Keep it up for just a moment so I can acknowledge you. God bless you and you and you and you in the middle. Anybody else? Raise that hand up. God bless you right up here in the front. God bless you. Anyone else? Right there in the middle, yes ma'am. Awesome. Anyone else? Raise it up. To my right, toward the back. I see you guys.
You can all put your hands down. Would you, where you are, if you raised your hand, would you talk to the Lord right now? And let's make the transaction. Would you say, Lord, I'm a sinner. I know that. I've offended you, and I'm sorry for my sin. I put my faith in, I believe in Jesus. Tell him that. I believe in Jesus, that he died on a cross for me, that he rose from the dead for me. And I turn from my past, and I turn to Jesus as my Savior. I want to live for him as my Lord. Help me. In Jesus' name, amen. Now, all of you who have raised your hand along with all of us together as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, let's take the bread symbolizing that we acknowledge and we receive his work on our behalf.
And then if you peel open that lavender foil, and you're holding in your hand the fruit of the vine, here it's grape juice. In the New Testament at Passover, Jesus took the fourth cup of wine in the Passover meal and said this is the cup that signifies my blood shed for you for the remission of sins. So we are holding an emblem of his sacrifice. And when we drink it, we're taking that sacrifice, it's a visual reminder that we have participated willingly in letting Jesus take away, bear away our sins, take them far away from us on his own body by his own blood. And we are forgiven sinners. We are forgiven, and thus we're children of God. Lord, thank you for this emblem of your sacrifice in Jesus' name. Amen.