Skip Heitzig - John 10:21-42
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Gospel of John, chapter 10. One of the most famous plays by William Shakespeare is his play Hamlet. And there's a famous line in the third act in the first scene, some of which you know. When I say it, you're going to know it. You're going to recognize it. Where he says "To be or not to be, that is the question. Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of an outrageous fortune," et cetera, et cetera. "To be or not to be, that is the question."
That's a famous saying, but it's not true. In that little pericopy, that little verbal statement, that quote from that line, what he is actually debating is should he kill himself or not. Should I be or not be? Should I just end the sorrows that I am experiencing or should I continue suffering through them? "To be or not to be, that is the question."
Now, certainly, that's an important question. But that's not "the" question. The question is not to be or not to be. The question is to believe or not to believe. Jesus said, "If you don't believe that I am He, you will die in your sins." That's the question. Because to believe or not to believe is the eternal question, it makes all the difference for time as well as eternity. And I begin with that because that is really the theme of what we're going to look at in the end of chapter 10, the continuation of chapter 10 from last time's study, before we take the Lord's Supper. The theme of the Gospel of John is believe. 98 times in the Gospel of John alone, that word "believe" appears.
And in this little section that we're going to read, it appears seven times. It becomes the theme of it as it is the theme of the Gospel of John. Now, let me just back up a little bit and get the contexts in flow and then we'll jump right in. In chapter 7 of John, it is the Feast of Tabernacles. It is the fall time of the year. And on the last day of the feast, you remember Jesus stood up and He shouted out with a loud voice. He said, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink." For as the Scripture says, "He who believes in me, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water."
"Whoever believes in me." Well, He made that statement, and then He left the temple precincts. But He came back the next morning. John, chapter 8. Early in the morning, He went on Solomon's porch and He began teaching the people. And while He was teaching, they interrupted Him by bringing a woman who had been caught in adultery, saying, Moses said you ought to stone this woman. She was caught in the very act.
What do you say? You know the story. He said, "You who are without sin cast the first stone." They had rocks in hands. They were convicted. They dropped those rocks, and they skedaddled out of the temple area. And Jesus kept teaching and talking. And what people saw and what they heard, it says, "And many believed in Him." Many believed in Him. Then in the very next chapter, John, chapter 9, Jesus heals a man who was blind from birth. And in verse 35, when Jesus heard that they cast him out, when He had found him, said to him, "Do you believe in the Son of God?" You see, that's the question. To believe or not to believe, that is the question.
"He answered and said to Him, 'Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him.' Jesus said to him, 'You have both seen Him, and it is He who is talking with you.' And then he said, 'Lord, I believe.' And he worshiped Him." Now, that's all a prelude to what we're about to read in John, chapter 10. And we'll pick it up in verse 22 through the end of the chapter before we take these elements together and celebrate our own belief in Him by taking these external elements. We are dealing now with the very end of the public ministry of Jesus.
And to end the public ministry of Jesus, John, the author of the gospel, goes back to the theme of the gospel which is believe, faith. And so that's why he closes his book by saying, "and truly many other signs Jesus did in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book, but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Son of God. And that by believing, have life in His name." So to sum up the end of Jesus' ministry, he returns to that theme of faith or of belief.
Now, we're about to read only 21 verses. I didn't finish it last time. I thought I would, but you're used to that by now. So we're going to finish the chapter. I'm not going to be too ambitious and try to cover the next chapter and do the Lord's Supper. So we're going to finish these 21 verses. But here's what I want you to realize. Of the 21 verses that we will look at, and though the theme is belief, it's really belief as opposed to unbelief. And what's fascinating is 18 of these 21 verses deal with unbelief. Three, only three, deal with belief. There is more unbelief recorded in the written or verbal scripture real estate, which we are about to read. There's more written about unbelief than belief.
I bring that up because I'm calling this the ratio of reality. That's reality. Most people in the world do not believe in Jesus. But whoever does believe in Him will have eternal life. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life." The sad truth is most people will perish. Jesus said again, "If you do not believe that I am or that I am He, you will die in your sins." So this is the ratio of reality. Three of the verses highlight belief, faith. 18 of the 21 verses deal with unbelief.
So in verse 21, I said I would begin in verse 22, but that's why I begin in verse 21. "Others said, 'these are not the words of one who has a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?'" And now, as I mentioned last time, just in case you may have forgotten, two to three months pass between what we just read in the very next verse.
Where verse 21 ends is the fall time of the year, the Feast of Tabernacles. That's over. By the time we get to verse 22, we're now in the winter time. For it says in verse 22, "Now, it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem. And it was winter." So we left off in fall. And between one verse and another verse, there are two to three months that pass where Jesus was busy, but John did not record what He said or did.
And we now enter into the winter time of the year. And I find that verse to be, to me, at least, telling. "And it was winter." Now, we know that he means that literally. But I also see a spiritual application. Because 18 of the 21 verses deal with disbelief, I see John writing it literally, nudging us in the arm. Like, get it? It was winter, get it?
People are cold to Jesus and growing colder toward Him. Only few are finding their hearts warmed by Him and are drawn to believe in Him. So it was winter. Now, it is the Feast of Dedication. And last time I explained that to you, didn't I? I told you that was Hanukkah. And Hanukkah was celebrated from 165 BC onward. Still celebrated today.
The Feast of Hanukkah, which takes place in the winter time, is to celebrate the rebellion of Judas Maccabeus and his brothers against Antiochus Epiphanes, that Syrian who persecuted the Jews. And if you remember, I told you that Antiochus Epiphanes was a Seleucid ruler, a Syrian ruler. He was called Antiochus IV. And he gave himself the name Antiochus Epiphanes, which means "God manifest" or "God made manifest." So he said, "I am God manifest in the flesh." That was his own claim.
Now, the Jews did not see him that way. They saw him as a crazy man. And so they didn't call him Antiochus Epiphanes. They called him Antiochus Epimanes, which means crazy dude. So it is a play on words. They took his name, but they twisted it a little bit and gave a word that sounded like it but meant something totally different. This dude is not "God manifest in the flesh." This guy is crazy. And he was. He hated Jewry. He wanted to end Judaism. He wanted to finally stamp out this rebellious group of people who did not worship the Greek culture or the god Zeus that he worshiped himself. So he just killed many of the Jews and took many of them slaves.
He forbade all of the people in Jerusalem to keep the Sabbath. He forbade them to circumcise their children. When two women decided to go against that law and circumcised their children, Antiochus decided to make a show of them. He did so by killing their infant children, killing their babies in front of them and then tying the dead baby around each mother, around its neck, and parading her through the streets of Jerusalem up to the temple area and throwing her down into the Kedron Valley, both of them, to die in public. In other words, don't mess with me. So that kind of persecution continued for years.
And finally, in a last desperate act, he defiled the temple itself and put a statue of Zeus in it, commanded people to worship Zeus, sacrificed a pig in the temple courts. The Jews referred to that as "the abomination that causes desolation." And that is why Antiochus Epiphanes, by the way, is an apt foreshadowing of the Antichrist.
OK, enough of that. A rebellion broke out against Antiochus by a group of priests, guy by the name of Mattathias and his five sons. After Mattathias died, Judas Maccabeus, "Judas Maccabeus" means Judas the Hammer. Love the name. Judas the Hammer came pounding down on the nail called Antiochus Epiphanes and in 164, succeeded in overturning the temple from the worship of Zeus and Antiochus Epiphanes and restored the correct worship back to God and drove the Syrians out.
I told you last time about the miracle of the lights and how it was supposed to last one day, but it lasted for a period of eight consecutive days so that new oil could be manufactured. That's all according to legend. But I brought up and I just want to reiterate that Jesus kept the Feast of Dedication. Now, you can read through the Bible, you'll never find the Feast of Dedication except for here in the New Testament. You won't find it in the Old Testament. The Children of Israel never were told to keep it because it happened between the Old and the New Testaments. But my point was, is that you have Jesus Christ keeping, celebrating, enjoying, if you will, a non-biblical feast.
And I bring that up again to refresh your memory with an application because every year, in the winter, I am asked this question, why do you celebrate Christmas? Would Jesus celebrate Christmas? Maybe he would. He celebrated Hanukkah, not a biblical feast, not mandated anywhere in the Scripture to keep, but He kept it. And I say, why not use every opportunity to glorify the Lord? And as people's attention are even thinking about perhaps the Lord Jesus Christ in some of the songs they sing of Christmas, why not use that as an opportunity, as a hook?
So here's Jesus, it is winter, it is the Feast of Dedication. And it says, "Jesus walked in the temple", of course, Jesus walked everywhere, "in Solomon's porch. And the Jews surrounded him and said to him, 'how long do you keep us in doubt? If you are the Christ", Greek word for Christos, Greek word for Messiah, Meshiakh, the Promised One, the deliverer, "if you are the Christ, tell us plainly."
One of the things that happened at Hanukkah, because they were celebrating one of their own rebelling against a foreign power and knocking out the dominating force, beating, winning over Antiochus Epiphanes and his Seleucid dynasty and Greek rule, because one of their own succeeded in rebelling against a foreign power, and because Rome was the current foreign power bearing rule over them, they became very patriotic around this time. And so their view of the Messiah was always, as you know, the view of the Messiah, the old view of the Messiah was that there was going to come a deliverer, a military ruler, a general much like Mattathias or Judas Maccabeus. That's going to be the kind of Messiah we want, a political warrior-deliverer. And so this brought up to them the desire to have that kind of deliverance again.
So they've heard of Jesus and these claims about messiahship and things that He has done. So now, they say to Him, "How long do you keep us in doubt. If you are the Christ, tell us plainly." Notice what Jesus said. He answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe." What they call "doubt" is actually unbelief. How long will you keep us in suspense or in doubt? Jesus said, I already told you. You don't believe. There's a difference between doubt and disbelief. Huge difference. But tell us plainly. Well, he already did. He said I told you.
Do you remember back in the fourth chapter when Jesus goes through Samaria and meets this Samaritan woman? And you know that the Samaritans believe in the Messiah as did the Jews. There was a rift, a difference. I don't need to get into that again. But the woman at the well of Samaria said to Jesus, "I know that when the Messiah comes, He's going to clear up all these things." And Jesus looked at her and said, "The one who is speaking to you is He." You're talking about the Messiah? I am the Messiah.
Then in chapter 5 of John in verse 46, let me read it to you. "Jesus said, 'For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?" You see, Moses had predicted that another prophet like Moses was going to come in the future. That was always believed by the Jewish sages to mean the Messiah. So He says, if you would have believed Moses, you'd believe me because he wrote about Me. I'm the One he predicted. I am the Messiah. So Jesus said, I've already told you. You don't believe.
I mentioned there is a difference between belief and doubt. Everybody has doubts. Can I ask you a plain question, an honest question? Who here has struggled ever with your belief in God, your belief in Jesus, your belief in the exclusivity of Christianity, et cetera? Any honest people? I'll raise both my hands. Sure, you have. It's good for you to struggle with that. It's good for you to have doubts. Os Guinness, a brilliant writer, used to say, "Show me somebody's intensity of their doubt, and I will show you that man's intensity of his faith."
You work through issues as you believe. You believe, but then, yeah, but what about? Yeah, but what about? And so you work through those. That's a huge difference from unbelief. You see, doubt looks for answers. Unbelief looks for excuses. Doubt is saying, I'd like to believe. I want to believe. And I'm ready to believe. I want this roadblock cleared up. So remove that, and the doubt is removed. I'll believe. Do you believe in the Son of God, Jesus, as a man? Who is He, Lord, that I may believe? I'm the guy. I'm speaking to you. I believe. You cleared that up for me. I believe.
It was Matthew Henry who said, "There are none so blind as those who will not see. There are none so deaf as those who will not hear." There are some people who have just decided against believing, no matter what. They are predisposed to it. However, a person who has doubts, that's different. Doubt implies faith. Doubt presupposes faith. There is faith there in order to doubt what that faith is placed in.
That's OK. You work through that. And it gets stronger. So they said, how long will you keep us in doubt? I've told you. You don't believe Me. Unbelief is different than doubt.
Verse 25 again. "Jesus answered, 'I told you and you do not believe the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of Me. But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep.
As I said to you, My sheep hear My voice, and I know them. And they follow Me.'" How can you tell if somebody is a Christian? Hey, I'm a Christian. I'm a believer. Really? So you hear His voice and you do as He says? You are following Jesus Christ. Just ask somebody when they say, I am a Christian. Are you following Jesus? Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. And then say, where is he leading you?
And you just work through the language with them. Because it's easiest thing as an American is to say I believe in Jesus because we were raised, many of us, in churches. But are you listening to His voice? Are you following Him?
I love what He said, though, in verse 25. "The works that I do in My Father's name, they bear witness of Me." You see, He's saying you don't believe the things that I'm saying. You don't believe the claims that I'm making. But you can't deny the things that I'm doing.
My works, these miraculous signs, are unmistakable of who I am. You say, tell us plainly. I've told you. You don't believe. But, at least, believe the works because those were predicted. Those were prophesied in the Old Testament of the works of the Messiah who would come.
"My sheep hear My voice. I know them. And they follow Me. And I give them eternal life." I love that. We don't earn eternal life. It's a gift. It's a free gift. "I give them eternal life."
You believe in Jesus. And when you believe in Jesus, He goes awesome. Now, I'm going to give you eternal life. You don't work for it. You don't earn it. You don't have enough to pay for it.
So I'm giving it to you. It's a gift. Free gift. "I give them eternal life. And they shall never perish. Neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand." But that's just part of it. Look at the next verse.
"My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all. And no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hands." Hey, you're in good hands. You've got two strong hands gripping you.
Jesus is holding you and gripping you so that no one could steal you out of His hands. The Father is holding you, gripping you so that no one could take you out of His hands. You're in good hands.
And by the way, Deuteronomy says, "Underneath us are the everlasting arms." So He's gripping you, and he's holding you. So you're in good shape.
"I," verse 30, "and My Father are one." It's funny. People read that and they go, "I and My Father are one." What could that mean?
Oh, it must mean, oh, it must mean, the only thing it must mean. It merely means Jesus saying, My Father and I are on the same page. We're one in purpose. We're one in our mission statement.
Jesus said, "I and My Father are one." And the word, the language, the syntax of the original language connotes that Jesus is saying I and My Father have one and the same essence, nature. I'm of the same nature and essence as the Father, which is deity.
Now, somebody hearing that might say, well, that's your interpretation. Right? You've heard that. That's everybody's favorite line.
You know, there are so many different interpretations. We don't know what to believe. Everybody has their own interpretation. Ah, thank you for bringing that up. That's where context helps.
All you have to do is read the next verse. It's unmistakable what Jesus meant because they understood what He meant. It says, "Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him." They understood He was claiming to have the same nature as God the Father. And according to Leviticus chapter 24, the punishment of claiming to be God, which is blasphemy, is to be stoned to death.
Most of that chapter, Leviticus 24, is about a man whose mother was a Hebrew, father was an Egyptian. He's out and he blasphemes God. And he's taken outside the camp and stoned.
And then the law is given. Anybody who blasphemes, you pick up stones and stone them. That's an Old Testament directive.
So Jesus said, "I and my Father are one." They understood what He was saying. They did not understand Him to say, I and My Father have the same vision statement and same purpose and same mission. I and My Father are of the same essence, the same nature as being God. They took up stones to stone Him.
"Jesus said to them, 'Many good works'", he referred to his works he does, "'many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which one of these works do you stone Me?'" You know Jesus had made some pretty incredible claims, right? So far.
So let's just keep that in mind when people want to say that the Bible never says or Jesus never said or the New Testament never records or Jesus said He is God, you've got some obstacles to get around when you make that statement. Just think of all the claims Jesus made so far. "I am the Bread of Life, whoever eats of this bread will live forever." "I am the Light of the World, whoever follows me will not walk in darkness." "Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, out of his innermost being will flow rivers of living water."
All of these statements. And "before Abraham was, I am." "If you don't believe that I am", the Old Testament construction for God, "you will die in your sins." So many claims he made. So now, he says, OK, you don't believe My claims, but here's My works.
So I've done a lot of good works. I've done a lot of miracles. Which one of those works are you going to kill me for, you're going to stone me for?
"The Jews answered him saying, 'For a good work, we do not stone you, but for blasphemy.'" Now, they're referring in their minds back to Leviticus 24. '"And because you being a man'", watch this, "'make yourself'", whom? God. Listen, even Jesus' enemies understood what He was saying.
So when somebody knocks at your door to give you an Awake! magazine or bicycles up to your house with an elder pin and says Jesus never claimed to be God, understand that they might not understand what Jesus was saying, but his enemies certainly did in the original context. Because you being a man, keep on making yourself out to be God. That's what it's saying. Now, I disagree with them in this sense.
The truth is really in reverse. This is not a man making himself to be God. This is "God who has made Himself of no reputation and took on a humble servant", Philippians 2, "and came as a man." They're just like, you're a man making yourself God. No, this is God who made Himself a man.
That's the theological truth. That's the full truth. "Jesus answered them, 'Is it not written in your law, I said you are gods?
If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came and the Scripture cannot be broken, do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, you are blaspheming because I said I am the Son of God? If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe me. But if I do, though you do not believe, believe the works that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me and I in Him.' Therefore they sought again to seize Him but He escaped out of their hands."
Now, I hope that you have read this in advance and that you are just dying to know what it means when Jesus says, have not I said, isn't it written in your law, have not I said you are gods? What is he referring to? Because this is a very important argument.
It is a rabbinical argument. It is the argument from lesser to greater. So you ready for the explanation?
He is referring to a psalm in the Old Testament, Psalm 82. Psalm 82. Isn't it written in your law? I have said you are gods. Now, turn with me to Psalm 82, so you can read it for yourself.
Psalm 82 is the quote that Jesus refers to. Psalm 82:1. "God stands in the congregation of the mighty. He judges among the gods. How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked, defend the poor and fatherless, do justice to the afflicted and the needy, deliver the poor and the needy, free them from the hand of the wicked?
They do not know nor do they understand. They walk about in darkness. All the foundations of the earth are unstable. I said you are gods. And all of you are children of the Most High, but you shall die like men and fall like one of the princes."
You see in Psalm 82 the word "gods." It's used twice. It is the Old Testament word "Elohim."
Have you heard that word before, "Elohim"? Elohim is plural in Hebrew for gods. It is also used of God Himself.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Elohim. A compound unity.
We've talked about the Trinity from that verse before. But Elohim is used in the Old Testament 2,605 times, most often referring to God. But every now and then, it refers to people, to men. Now, you say, well, which men? Men in the Old Testament who adjudicated court cases.
Judges, they were called. Judges. Not from the Book of Judges, but in the Book of Exodus chapter 22. They are called judges or rulers. Rulers of your people. Don't bring reviling accusation against Elohim, a ruler of your people.
If somebody commits a crime, bring them before the judges. The word is "Elohim." It most often refers to God, but sometimes it refers to men.
So Psalm 81 said, "Have I not said you are gods? But you'll die like men." You have the responsibility of representing God by being a judge. So you are god, small g, but you'll die like men because you're human beings.
So Jesus quotes Psalm 82. And He says, isn't written in your law? Have I not said you are gods, Elohim, small g, judges, those who take the place in a court case to give an authoritative statement that takes the authority from God and gives it to men? Have not I said that? So he's arguing from lesser to greater.
If in your law Jesus would say there are some men who are given the title "gods," and they are gods in some sense, why do you take umbrage with the fact that I say I am the Son of God because I do have the same nature as the Father? So it's an argument from the lesser to the greater. I, who have done these works. I, who have made these claims substantiated by the works that I do. Those are gods and they die like men.
I say that I'm the Son of God. And that's His argument. "If I do not do the works of My Father, then do not believe me. But if I do, though you do not believe me, believe the works that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me and I in Him."
Something else about that. Did you notice what He said about the Bible, Jesus said about the Bible in verse 35? What did He say about it? Can you see it?
And the Scripture what? "Cannot be broken." The Scripture is quoting the Old Testament. He's referring to the Scripture.
And Jesus, by the way, quoted or referred to the Old Testament, Scripture. 64 times it is recorded in the New Testament. And whenever He talked about the Old Testament, He talked about it as the authoritative inerrant word of the living God.
And here He says, "Scripture cannot be broken." I draw that to your attention because I want you to know the Savior you believe in has a very high view of Scripture. And if you don't have the same view of Scripture as Jesus has, you got some real issues to deal with.
Jesus even said this Scripture is so accurate, listen, "Heaven and earth will pass away, My words will never pass away." Before heaven and earth pass away, concerning the Old Testament, He said, "Not one jot or one tittle will pass from the law till all is fulfilled." How's that for accuracy?
The jot is the yodh in Hebrew, the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The tittle is even smaller than the jot. It's little pronunciation marks, these little apostrophes and dots that tell you how to pronounce the letters, distinguishing one pronunciation from another. Just the little markings. Not one of those will pass away from the Old Testament law till it's all fulfilled.
I didn't come to annul the law but to fulfill it. And it will all be fulfilled, Jesus said. Even down to the jot and the tittle.
Your Savior had a high view of Scripture. Do you have the same view that the Jesus you say you believe in and you say you follow has? Well, you know, I believe in Jesus, but I can't really believe all the Bible. Then you have a problem.
I don't know which Jesus you're believing in. Do you ever read anything He said? "The Scripture cannot be broken."
Have you never read what Moses said? Have you never read what David said? He always looked at the Scripture as authoritative, down to the jot and the tittle.
That's why I love jots and tittles. That's why I love commas and periods and grammar. And I look at it in its context and what word in syntax it's next to because it's all going to be fulfilled. It's authoritative.
I love the story about the woman who was traveling overseas. She was very wealthy, and she was traveling with another couple of friends. She was in Europe. And she was in a very upscale jewelry store in Paris, and she saw a bracelet.
And she thought, oh, that's gorgeous. I'd love to have it. It's only $75,000. But I should ask my husband before I buy it.
So she got on her cell phone, and she texted him. "Found a beautiful bracelet, only 75,000. May I buy it?" Of course, you might know any of us men, our immediate response would be just one word, "no." No, uh-uh.
First of all, we don't have it. Second of all, you crazy? It's a bracelet.
Anyway, so she texted him. Now, he got the text. And he was shocked by the price, so he texted her back.
But a lot of times, people will text me, but they don't put the jots and tittles in them. They just do all small case. And you don't know where the sentence begins and ends.
So he wrote back and he said, "no", should have been comma or period, "no." And then the next was "price too high." That's what he meant to say, "No, price too high." But he left out the comma, the tittle. Just a tittle.
So she read the text, and she said, oh, he loves me so much. He just said, "No price too high." I'm invaluable to him.
You can't put a price on our love. "No price too high." So she bought it.
He never made that grammatical error ever again in his text. "Not one jot, not one tittle will pass from the law till all is fulfilled." "Therefore they sought again to seize Him."
Again, He's making unmistakable claims. "But He escaped out of their hands. And He went away again beyond the Jordan."
Now, don't read into that Jesus is scared and He has to escape them and hide from them. He is simply preparing for the final battle. The final battle will be His march up toward Jerusalem in a few months' time in the springtime at the Passover when He will give His life for the sin of the world.
So there He is preparing. He's in the wilderness, and notice where. "He went again beyond the Jordan to the place where John was baptizing at first, and there He stayed." That's the area of Perea that is down at a place in ancient times called Bethabara, which was the place of crossing the Jordan River by Joshua. Bethabara was the place also were John the Baptist was baptizing. Jesus was baptized there.
So Jesus goes back to where He began His ministry, out there in the wilderness of Perea were John the Baptist once baptized Him. "And there He stayed." And notice now the contrast. "Then many came to Him and said John performed no sign, but all the things that John spoke about this man were true and many believed in Him there."
See that theme again? See the emphasis John is placing on it? He's contracting the unbelief in Jerusalem with the belief in the wilderness of Perea.
The first group disregarded His claims and His signs. The second group regarded His claims and His signs and the testimony about John the Baptist. So some didn't believe. Some did believe.
Most didn't believe. A few did believe. That's the ratio of reality.
If you think about it, everybody has faith, everyone. Everyone exercises faith. Everyone lives by faith.
The proud atheist would say, whoa, well, you know, I'm a practical man. I wish I could believe like you. But, you know, I have a good education.
And I'm a little smarter than you are. I'm a little more learned and more practical than you are. You're into that metaphysical trip. I just can't believe, though I'd like to believe. I'm not a person of faith.
I dispute that. I immediately would ask, do you understand how the automobile engine works? How electricity makes the spark?
And there's compression in the stroke of the engine when it hits the top of the cylinder. They explode. Do you understand how that all, well, I don't understand it.
Well, but you don't drive a car then? Oh, of course, I drive a car. Well how do you drive a car? What do you mean? Well, you drive it by faith, don't you?
I mean, you believe that if you put that key in and turn it, you just believe. But you don't understand it all. But you believe that if you turn it to the right, it's going to go vroom and start up. And you just drive around. Well, yeah, I suppose so.
Well, that takes faith. It takes faith for you to go to the bank. Do you have a bank?
Well, of course, I go to the bank. Do you ever cash a check? Yes. Why would you?
What do you mean, why would I? Well, you have a check. There's no intrinsic value in that piece of paper, but it's a promise.
And you have faith that if you take it to that institution and show that account to them, that the person who signed it is good for the money he's promised you. It's just a promise, and you're living by faith. So you live by faith.
To go to a restaurant, it takes faith. Some restaurant takes way more faith than others. I've seen what they serve up.
You have to look at that and go, that's going to nourish me. I don't know how. But I believe by faith, I won't die from that.
We all exercise faith. What I want you to notice here as we close before we take the Lord's Supper together. There are two things that contribute to the faith of these people out in the wilderness, something objective and something subjective, something outside and something inside. There is the objective signs that Jesus performed.
You're looking at it, and you see somebody who's healed. You watch them get up and move even though they have been incapacitated for years. You see one sign after another sign after another sign. They're referring to that.
John didn't do those signs. This man did them. That's the objective reality. But then there is the subjective testimony. John the Baptist told us about this man, and those things are true.
Now, remember John the Baptist said some pretty heavy claims about Him. He said, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world." That's what John the Baptist said about Jesus. Look, that guy, that's the Lamb of God. He takes away the sin of the world.
And then John made this outrageous claim. He said, "He is preferred before me because He was before me." Imagine, John is older than Jesus, how could Jesus be before him? Well, you know the answer to that.
He's making some pretty bold claims. And, by the way, and I've said this to you before that I've always liked the fact that John and Jesus were cousins, which for me helps authenticate John's claims about Jesus. Because how many of you would ever say of your cousin, my cousin takes away the sins of the world?
My cousin was existing before I was even born. Are you crazy? Do you think your cousin is God? Well, in this case, yes.
So John was with Jesus growing up. They met at feast. They would take pilgrimages together. They would play together. And yet, after knowing Him so intimately like family members do, to say, my cousin is the Lamb of God.
That's subjective testimony mixed with the objective reality of Him healing people one and then another and then another. That's all evidence. And the Bible appeals to evidence.
It doesn't say take a blind leap in the dark, man. Just believe. Just believe.
That's stupid to just believe. No, believe based on what? And we ask people to believe based on the evidence that substantiate the claims of Jesus. Like, what evidence?
Like the uniqueness of Scripture. Here, you have 66 books written by over 40 authors over a 1,500-year time period. And all of these authors from different continents, speaking different languages, different time periods all agree on the most major controversial subjects in the world.
Fulfilled Scripture. The Bible predicts things that will happen in the future. So that when they happen, you go, wow, what are the odds of that happening? Many, many, many of those.
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ, et cetera. There are several objective things that point a person to faith so that you can be confident in whom you believe, in what you believe, and in whom you believe. So you may have doubts. Great, work through them.
I came through a period of severe doubt in my medical training. And I came out of the other end stronger, where I was looking for unbelievers. I go through that. I go and, better find me a pagan. Give me an atheist.
I want to sit down and have a talk. And in just over days and weeks and months, was able to work through and reason and see many of them come to faith, vibrant faith in Christ. It's beautiful.
Unbelief is different. Unbelief looks for excuses not reasons. There are plenty of reasons. And they believed in Him. Many believed in Him there.
Well, we're about to take the Lord's Supper. We're about to make an outward display of our faith. Faith is internal. It is something that goes on inside of your heart, your soul.
But we are demonstrating that externally. When we take these elements, we're doing a few things. We're remembering.
Jesus said, "Do this in memory of Me," or "in remembrance of Me." We're remembering what God did in the past. That's number 1.
Number 2, we're rejoicing in what God is doing in the present. What is He doing in the present? Well, I tell you one thing he's doing. He's making us into one family, one unit, one body of Christ.
The bread that I eat and the juice that I drink is the same bread that you eat and the same juice from the same source. And we effectively become one with each other by doing that. So I'm remembering what God did in the past. I'm rejoicing in what God is doing in the present.
Number 3, I'm renewing my hope of what He's going to do in the future. You see, Paul in 1 Corinthians 11 said, "As often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you do show the Lord's death lessen until He comes." I'm not just looking back. I'm looking ahead. Jesus came and died, but He's coming again to take over.
So I am renewing my hope in the future. So I'm remembering the past. I'm rejoicing in the present. I'm renewing my hope for the future. And we're doing it personally. So the fourth is that we are responding. I am responding personally by saying not only do I have a Bible and not only do I come to a meeting, but I personally believe that Jesus Christ died for me on the cross, shed His blood for my sin. It is an outward confession of an inward reality.
Now, if that is not your inward reality, you don't want to take this. That would be the worst thing you could do is to take the cup because it's almost mockery to say, you know, I'm taking this cup and this bread which speaks of His broken body, His death, and His shedding of blood. But I personally don't believe and follow Jesus. Paul said, all you're doing is adding damnation to your testimony. So you don't want to take these elements if you're not a believer in Jesus Christ.
Now, please hear me. I'm not saying if you're a perfect believer if you're a believer. Nobody here is a perfect believer, anyway. I couldn't get one of us to sign up for that category. None of us. So we're all failures. We're all sinners. We're all broken. We're all forgiven. And so we take these because we believe.
But if you have not personally received Jesus, you don't want to take these elements. So I'm going to close in a word of prayer and give you an opportunity to change your mind. That's what repentance means. To change your mind, change your direction, think differently. You go into that direction, go that direction. Do an about-face. And then we're going to pray for the elements. But let's bow our hearts, our heads.
Father, we thank You for this moment when we couldn't consider just 21 verses of a chapter in John and see the contrast between unbelief and belief. What they were calling doubt was really their unbelief. Doubts are OK. Anyone with true faith has had or has certain doubts about certain issues and things. Those are OK. I pray we'd see them as OK and voice them and work through them. But, Father, if we are in a category of unbelief where we have heard but we're not following Jesus or we're pushing it away, we've said no to you in the past, that we would just stop and say yes to you based upon the objective external evidences that point to faith in Jesus as being different than faith in any religion or religious leader ever in history and the testimony of those who have come to know Jesus, which is so powerful.
If you're here tonight and you could be described as one who doesn't follow Jesus, you're not walking with Him, you're not hearing His voice, you're not even wanting so far to do what he wants, but you're here, and that's changing now. And in your heart you're deciding, I don't want to go that way anymore.
I want to find a peace and a satisfaction and a reality of forgiveness and a joy. And maybe you are becoming convinced that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of the living God. Or maybe you've wandered away from the Lord, and tonight you want to come back home to Him and be found in Him. If that describes you, would you just lift your hand up? Our eyes are closed. Just lift your hand up, so I can acknowledge you. God bless you.
In the middle to my right. Anyone else? You're coming to Him or coming back to Him. You're saying yes to Him. You're surrendering your life to Him. Just raise that hand up, so I can notice you and I'll pray for you. Raise it up high. God bless you and you and you and you on my left. You on my back to the right, way in the back, in the balcony. Father, thank you for all of these hands, all of these lives. Now, right where you're seated, if you raise your hand, would you just pray this prayer. Say it from your heart, say it to the Lord right where you're at. Say:
Lord, I give you my life. I know I'm a sinner. Please forgive me. I believe in Jesus, that He came from heaven to earth, that He paid for my sins with His own blood, that He died, was buried, and that He rose again from the grave. I believe that. I also turn from my sin. I turn from my past. I repent of it. I changed my mind. I turn to You as Savior and Lord, as Master. Help me to follow You in Jesus' name. Amen.