10However, after his brothers had left for the Feast, he went also, not publicly, but in secret. 11Now at the Feast the Jews were watching for him and asking, “Where is that man?” 12Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, “He is a good man.” Others replied, “No, he deceives the people.” 13But no one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the Jews. 14Not until halfway through the Feast did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach. 15The Jews were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having studied?”
I wonder if you see the same things in John’s Gospel that I see? Do you see parallels with our world? Do you see similarities between their culture and ours? Seriously, take away all the plastic gizmos and electronic hickamagiggies and really tall buildings and you are left with the same thing as existed in Jesus’ day. There are still people and as long as there are people, nothing will ever really change. Frankly, I’m kind of tired of the whole thing. Every time I read the paper or the scan the Internet I am bombarded with the dregs of society, the scandal of the politicians, the mischievousness of Hollywood, and the downright stupidity of sinners. There’s a new way to sin invented every single day. There’s a new objection to Jesus every day. Not a day passes that someone has not found some reason to objection to Jesus or complain about him.
Jesus refused to go to Jerusalem during the feast in order to gain popularity. Bruce wrote, ‘Jesus’ going up to Jerusalem ‘as it were in secret’ is in marked contrast to his brothers’ insistence that he should court publicity’ (173). Really it is quite astounding that Jesus has no inclination to go up in order to make a spectacle, or to parade around for applause, or to play the monkey to his organ-grinder brothers. Jesus is shown here as one who moves according to His time schedule and no one else’s. Again, Bruce, ‘The evangelist’s point is rather that the whole incident marks his steadfast resolution not to run before the Father’s guidance nor lag behind it’ (173).
When he finally arrives in Jerusalem, it is to no fanfare, no trumpet blasts or PA announcement or Monday Night Football commentary. He arrives in secret and doesn’t even go up to the temple until half-way through the Feast. When he did go up, it was to teach. Then people could only find some reason to snarl about him, ‘How did he get such learning without having studied?’ (Solomon wrote, “…much study wearies the body” (Ecclesiastes 12:12).)
These verses we are looking at today are filled with people’s objections to Jesus. The first objection is that he doesn’t appear on other people’s time schedules, “Where is that man?” In other words, he should be here now. We demand he appear before us. We demand that he make his appearance. We demand…we demand…we demand…some folks get done doing nothing but making demands of Jesus. Some folks get done doing nothing with Jesus but wondering why he is not moving according to their wishes. “Where is that man?” they ask in a snarl of anger and not a little hubris. But I suppose we have a right to demand Jesus appear when we want him to, don’t we?
Then some folks say, ‘He is a good man.’ But I don’t put much stock in folks who say this either. It was all whispering, a hush-hush affair. People didn’t want to say anything, good or bad, about Jesus for ‘fear of the Jews.’ So I don’t put much stock in folks who are willing to whisper niceties about Jesus but are not willing to make any sort of public declaration about Him. What good is whispering when Jesus said that we are to be like Lights shining in dark places, cities on hills, shouting from the rooftops the things said in secret? What place is there for us to be ashamed of the Gospel? What good is a good man if no one is willing to stand up for him, talk about him, or share him with others? What good is a good man if all those who know he is good live in fear of what others might say or do? Nah. I’ve got no use for Messiah whisperers even if they say the right things.
Then some complain about Jesus and say, ‘No, he deceives the people.’ Oh, just imagine that! This was a trick of those others who did not like Jesus. They thought his only ambition was to subvert the lower classes of people, you know, those without education, those who don’t know better. Professor Bruce instructs us again, “…others maintained that his deeds of mercy and power were simply a smokescreen to cover his real intentions: he was actually an impostor, claiming to be what he was not, and thus misleading the common people” (174). There are plenty of folks running around the world right now claiming very similar things about Jesus.You know one of the greatest perpetrators of this accusation: Dan Brown, author of the best-selling book The D* V**** C***. The whole premise to the book is that Jesus is not who he claimed to be, and that his disciples have gone out of their way to cover up the ‘truth’ about him. Same claim; different time.
Then there were those who complained about his level of education: ‘How did this man get such learning without having studied?’ This objection Jesus answers: “My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me. If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.” It’s like Jesus can tolerate all other objections and complaints but he will not sit quietly by while people malign the Word of God. It is this objection that Jesus answers—perhaps because it carries the most weight. Perhaps it is because, as he has said and will say again, that rejection of his teaching is ultimately a rejection of God who sent him.
What is more amazing is that Jesus is being talked about even when he wasn’t around. People were saying all sorts of things about him that were either not true or only half-true (which means they were lies too). People had very little understanding of what he was, who he was, what he was doing. So later he tells them, ‘Yes, you know me, and you know where I’m from. I am not here on my own, but he who sent me is true. You do not know him because I am from him and he sent me’ (28-29). If you want to know the Father, you have to know me—but they did not want to listen to the things Jesus was saying.
We demand of Jesus. We are silent about Jesus. We falsely accuse Jesus. We reject his teaching because he has no recognizable pedigree. Nothing in the world changes. People are no different today than they were in Jesus’ day. I wonder when people will start getting it? If the Scripture is true, and I believe it is, there are a lot of people who are on the wide road that leads to eternal damnation. If Jesus was indeed telling the truth and He alone is the Only Straight and Narrow Path to God, then there are a lot of people already frustrated by God’s judgment. What are people around you whispering about Jesus? What are they saying? Better, are you prepared to talk to them and ‘set the record straight’? Are you prepared with an answer? Can you speak intelligently about the Messiah? The right information is useless if you keep it inside and to yourself.
I hope your 30th Day with Jesus is Beyond Measure!
Soli Deo Gloria!