Friends, I promised that parts of the sermon I didn’t get to Sunday morning I would post here. Below is the 2 pages of preliminary notes & observations that I did not include, and also the longer conclusion of the sermon that I did not preach. I’m actually happy that I ended the sermon where I did, although, to be sure, this sixth objection to Jesus should probably be mentioned. So, I do so here.–Jerry
Now, before I get involved in the objectives I’d like to accomplish today, I’d like to briefly make a couple of observations about John’s Gospel as we have been led to this point in his narrative and as we see continuing to work out in this particular chapter. The first observation I’d like to make concerns his brothers sort of pushing him to make a public appearance. I think this goes back to the point Jesus made to his mother in the second chapter when she wanted him to solve the problem of running out wine at a wedding. He said to her, “Woman, why do you involve me, my time has not yet come.” Here he makes very similar statements to his brothers: “For you any time is right; the right time has not yet come for me.” In other words, people are not controlled or governed by some greater person or objective are free to do what they want, when they want. Jesus is telling his brothers: My schedule is not controlled by you or anyone here on this earth. My work and my schedule is governed solely by my Father whose work and will I am about.
I talked of this a bit last week when it came to the miracle of the bread. We cannot control Jesus. He has his own time schedule that will not be altered by our cajoling or ambition. We tend to look at things from a particular point of view. We see immediate objectives. We see short term accomplishment. I think that’s what his brothers wanted. “Hey, it’s a festival time, everyone is in Jerusalem, go do some miracles and win them over. That will make you a public figure.” I hear in this terrible echoes of the devil standing on top of the temple with Jesus saying, ‘Hurl yourself down so He can command his angels to miraculously save you.’ In other words, ‘Go up to Jerusalem and do something spectacular, avoid the cross, do all you can to win people over without blood.’ But, God, I read, does not have a point of view as much as he has a complete view. God had the entire view in mind. And we have already discussed that Jesus is not coming to earth to be a bread Messiah.
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The second observation that I must make is that there is an increasing level of violence that is being exercised against Jesus. He said at the beginning of chapter 7 that he purposely avoided going to a certain area because the Jews there were waiting to kill him—murder him. If you read slowly through John, and carefully, you will notice that the violence continues to increase all throughout the Gospel itself. The people were violently opposed to Jesus, to Jesus’ teaching, to Jesus’ disciples—at one point they even plot to murder someone that Jesus had raised from the dead.
Here in chapter 7 it is not different. He even asks them, ‘Why are you trying to kill me?’ He knows their intentions. He knows what they are about. Of course they deny it. But later someone says, “Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill?” In verse 30, it says they wanted to seize him. In verse 32, they send guards to arrest him. In verse 43, they are divided over him. In verse 44, they want to seize him again. And in verses 46-52, there seems to be a sort of trial of Jesus where he is found guilty of something and he has not even been on trial yet. And this sort of stuff is all throughout John. There’s always someone trying to kill him, or stone him, or seize him, but Jesus is always in control. Still, it matters very little what Jesus says, or what Jesus does, there is always one very clear response from the people who object: Kill him. They go out of their way to kill him, seize him, or whatever, and yet for all the times they try, they only succeed when Jesus determines they will succeed.
Now, for the extended conclusion:
Well, the guards who were sent to arrest Jesus were thoroughly confounded, profoundly perplexed. What to do? No one ever spoke like this man does. We cannot arrest him. So more objections: He’s just a deceiver, none of the rulers or Pharisees have believed in him—we’re obviously smarter than all of you!—there’s a curse on the mob following him, he’s already guilty without a trial, and then one last thing, “Behold! Look! Nicodemus, you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee!” “Nazareth?! Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” “Come and Behold!” But I think about this one they might actually have been saying something right.You see, the things Jesus was saying and doing could not be attributed to mere human cunning and ability and Jesus never claimed that they did. He said his teaching was not his own. He said he was not doing his own will but the will of the One who sent him. He did miracles. He knew the One they didn’t know. He claimed to be the unique, sufficient way of salvation, the fulfillment of the Scripture, and the one who is hated by the world because he testifies against the world. They are right: No human being is foolish enough to do such things. No mere human is going to say these things, do these things, and divide people in these ways, claim to be God, and the only way to God, unless he were, in fact, the One He claimed to be. Humans would go for the miracle in the temple courts; Jesus goes for secrecy and teaching. Humans want the attention; Jesus claims he’s in it only for the Father’s glory. No, Jesus indeed was nota prophet from Galilee. He was definitely from some place else altogether and the only way to find out where is to believe in Jesus.
Maybe Jesus just was not fancy enough for them. Certainly, if a prophet were worth his salt, he’d be from someplace important, like Jerusalem. “Hey, if you want to be a public figure, go up and reveal yourself in Jerusalem. Show yourself to your disciples. Do your miracles there.” No thanks, Jesus said. He came from simple origins, from simply family background, from humble beginnings. Surely this man cannot be the Messiah or even a prophet! He’s from Galilee. We know enough of that place to know that no one sent from God comes from such a place.
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Jesus has been on trial. People objected to everything he said and did, but we find that actually it is we who have been on trial. All the objections people have are thrown back to us as if to say: Here’s your answer, now what will you do with Jesus? Do you object because he tells you that you are evil and in need of outside intervention to fix you? Do you object because his teaching is from God and about God things and not about hair things or therapy things? Do you object because he points out your hypocrisy while remaining sinless himself? Do you object, still, because he says that everything you ever knew or believed about God must be rethought through him? Do you object because he says He is the only way to salvation, to God? Do you object to Jesus because he’s from a small, backwater, town and not from the big city of Jerusalem, that he does things in secret and not for show and public consumption? Do you object that he won’t be your miracle worker when you want your miracle? Do you object because you know where he’s from and the element of mystery has been removed?
Just what objections do you have about Jesus? Your objections are on trial too. And the gospel is proclaimed so that your objections may be overcome or that they may overcome you. But either way, Jesus will be exalted and glorified. Surely this prophet did not come merely from earth; surely this is the Prophet sent from God. Surely we must listen to what he is saying and be overcome by his grace.
What choice will you make? There are only two choices given here in these Scriptures. One choice is to intensify your hatred, your violence, and your anger against Jesus. The other choice is to put your faith in Him, the only one who can satisfy your thirst. You will either kill him or be killed. You will either die without him or with him. Either way, you have a choice to make—and making no choice is close enough to choosing against him that no choice is not acceptable either. What is your verdict? What you say about Christ will be the most important statement you ever make in this world.
Soli Deo Gloria!