Sunday, March 03, 2024

“Your Father” [Matt's Messages]

“Your Father”
Life in Jesus’ Name - The Gospel of John
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
March 3, 2024 :: John 8:31-59 
 
Last week, we lit the Christ Candle from Christmas Eve and studied together our Lord’s astonishing claim in chapter 8, verse 12. “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (Jn. 8:12 NIVO).

And we believe that, amen? And so did many of the people who heard Him say it that day (v.30). 

But not all of them. And some of those who believed it at first stopped believing it at last. Because of Who was their true father.

[VIDEO WILL BE EMBEDDED HERE.]

Hold onto Jesus and His truth, and you will be set free.

The goal of this sermon today is freedom, spiritual freedom. You could hear the grand promises that Jesus made about spiritual freedom when Keagan read those first few verses to us. 

“Set free...free indeed.” 

Those are beautiful, powerful words! And John says that they were spoken to some Jews who had “believed” in Jesus, at least provisionally, initially. Jesus gave them this promise. Look at verses 31 and 32.

“To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’”

Doesn’t that just sound wonderful?! “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

The problem is that many of the Jews who were listening to Him that day did not believe that they needed to be set free. We said last week that this entire chapter, chapter 8, of the Gospel of John is one big fight with the Pharisees. Jesus claimed to be the Light of the World, and they vigorously disputed that claim. They fought against Him. And they go back and forth and back and forth in a verbal battle of words. By the end of the chapter, both Jesus and the Pharisees will have said some  really strong things! Some knock-down-drag-out fighting words to and about each other.
Here, Jesus offers to set them free if they will hold to His teaching. We’ll talk more about what that means in a little bit, but they dispute that they need to be set free in the first place. Because of who their father is. Look at verse 33. “They answered him, ‘We are Abraham's descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?’”

I’ve entitled this message, “Your Father,” because that’s a phrase that Jesus keeps using in this fight with the Pharisees. There’s this tug of war through the whole rest of the chapter about the true parentage, the true spiritual paternity of these people who are fighting with Jesus. And they, right back at Him, make claims about Jesus’ parentage.

The question keeps coming up, “Who Is Truly Your Father?” Where do you really come from? What is your true DNA?

Well, the Jews were descendants of Abraham, right? They had “Father Abraham’s” DNA. They were Abraham’s “seed,” Abraham’s offspring.

And they were proud of it! In verse 33, they say that because of Abraham, they had never been anyone’s slave. Which they could not have meant politically. Because since Abraham, they had been slaves of Egypt, and the Philistines, and the Assyrians, and the Babylonians [remember Jeremiah!] and the Medes and the Persians, and the Greeks, and now the Romans.

But they thought that because Abraham was their father, they were spiritually free! “We are Abraham's descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”

We call that being “self-deceived.” We all hate to be told that we are enslaved to something, but Jesus could see it clearly. They were enslaved to sin. V.34

“Jesus replied, ‘I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (vv.34-36). Now, that’s a wonderful promise. But they weren’t sure that they needed it. 

Jesus says that “everyone who sins is a slave to sin” that means that everyone who gets caught up in sin gets entangled in it. And that’s true for everyone, not just Gentiles. It was true for the Jews, too.

Sinning looks like freedom at first, but it actually is slavery. The sins that tempt you and me? They look like freedom at first.

That first grumble.
That first lustful look.
That first small sneaky theft.
That first juicy piece of gossip.
That first little lie.

It all seems like freedom. But it’s never just the first one. “Everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” And, therefore, we need to be set free.

Here’s the kind of freedom that verse 32 is talking about. It’s not political freedom, as much as that is a good thing when we can enjoy it.

It’s spiritual freedom. 

It’s freedom from sin.
It’s freedom from Satan.
It’s freedom from self.
It’s freedom from shame.

And Jesus offers to give it to us.

Because He is the Son. He’s never been enslaved and so He can give this freedom freely.

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

And that’s the whole point of this message, and the whole point of this book. That’s why Jesus came. He is the Son! He came to save. He came to set the captives free. Amen?

That’s what Jesus was doing on the Cross and what we will be celebrating at His Table today.

But these people did not believe that they needed saving or that Jesus could save them. In fact, they wanted to kill Him, not follow Him!  Look at verse 37.

“I know you are Abraham's descendants. Yet you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word. I am telling you what I have seen in the Father's presence, and you do what you have heard from your father.”

There’s our sermon title: “Your father.”

“You say that you come from Abraham, but you don’t act like it. I think you have a different daddy than Father Abraham.”

“Nu uh!” they say. Verse 39. “‘Abraham is our father,’ they answered. ‘If you were Abraham's children,’ said Jesus, ‘then you would do the things Abraham did. As it is, you are determined to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. You are doing the things your own father does.’”

I’ve tried to summarize this whole section in three parts, each with its own major application. Each point is what Jesus was saying to these people about their father. Here’s the first one:

#1. YOUR (PHYSICAL) FATHER BELIEVED AND OBEYED.

Yes, Abraham was their physical father, but was He their spiritual father? Well, how did Abraham act? How did Abraham behave? Anybody remember what we said the major lesson of Abraham’s life was back when studied the book of Genesis in 2003?

Abraham had faith.

Abraham listened to God.
Abraham believed God.
Abraham obeyed God.

Hear, believe, obey.

Now, let’s look at the Pharisees.

Are they like Abraham? No, they are not.

You know, we have this saying, “Like Father, like child,” right? Children naturally reproduce their parent’s qualities. But these people weren’t reproducing Abraham’s qualities. “If you were Abraham's children, then you would do the things Abraham did.” 

Abraham heard, believed, obeyed. “You have set out to kill me, ‘a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things.’" “I don’t think that Abraham is your true daddy.”

So what should we do in light of this point?

Stay tuned into the truth of Jesus.

Hold onto Jesus and His truth, and you will be set free. Be like Abraham and hear, believe, and obey. And continue to hear, believe, and obey. That’s the point that Jesus was making in our very first verse, verse 31.

“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

It’s not just if you say you believe up front, but if you “hold” to it. If you stick with it. The word here is “remain” or the old English word is “abide.” To live in it. If you live in Jesus’ teaching, then you really are His disciples. That’s how Abraham lived! He heard, believed, obeyed. He “held” to the truth.

At Stay Sharp this week, the theme was “Always Making Disciples,” and we learned what a disciple is. It’s more than just someone who says that they believe in Jesus. It’s someone who actually believes in Jesus! It’s a follower of Jesus. A learner of Jesus. 

Our teacher, Greg Strand, used the word “apprentice.” That’s someone who conforms themselves to someone else. They tune their attention onto their master and conform their lives to their instruction. “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

This summer our Challenge Crew is set to travel to Kansas City to grow as disciples there. All of the teaching will be centered on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. 

And as they learn that truth and conform themselves to it, they will be set free. I’m so excited for them!

But these people that Jesus was fighting with were not acting like their physical father, Father Abraham. Jesus says they were acting like they had some other father. 

V.41 again, “You are doing the things your own father does.”

Now, those are fighting words!

If it wasn’t Jesus, I’d say that this is almost like a daytime talk show where you have these people up on stage arguing about paternity tests. Did you ever watch one of those? Don’t. It’s not worth your time. But it’s like people saying, “I think that he’s your child.” Or “she’s not my child.” And they’re arguing on camera about where these kids are coming from.

Jesus is arguing about where these children are coming from, but He’s not in the dark, and He’s not saying it for sick and sordid entertainment. He’s saying it to get the truth out.

But they don’t want to hear the truth. Verse 41.

“‘We are not illegitimate children,’ they protested. ‘The only Father we have is God himself.’”

That’s upping the ante, isn’t it? They’re going above Abraham now. “The only Father we have is God himself.” Ok! Verse 42. “Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me.” 

You guys aren’t God’s children! God’s children love God’s Son. Because God sent His Son for them. God’s Children love God’s Son. In fact, that’s how they become God’s children!  

Chapter 1, verse 12 said, “to all who received him [they welcomed Him, they took Him in, they loved Him], to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”

God’s children love God’s Son, and these folks wanted to kill Him.

God is not their father. Someone else must be. Look at verse 43.

“Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me!” (vv.43-45).

Here’s point number two, directed at these people Jesus was fighting with:

#2. YOUR (SPIRITUAL) FATHER KILLED AND LIED.

Your spiritual father lied and killed. Your spiritual father is the devil! Those are strong words, aren’t they? Jesus knows their true parentage. They are children of the devil even though they are incredibly religious.

Remember that! Jesus is not impressed by religiosity. It’s often just a front for depravity. We don’t just listen to someone’s pious sounding words. We look at their actions. Because behavior betrays identity. How we act shows what we truly believe. And how we act reveals who we truly are and whose we really are. According to Jesus, these folks were the devil’s own children.

“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him” (v.44a).

Notice, “not holding to the truth.” That’s the opposite of “hold to Jesus’ teaching.” They were the opposite of Jesus’ true disciples. In fact, they wanted to kill Jesus. They wanted to carry out the devil’s desire to kill Jesus. 

He’s always been a murderer. From when he tempted Adam and Eve to introduce death to the human race. And when he tempted Cain to murder his brother Abel. From the very beginning, he’s been killing.

And he’s been lying. Jesus says it five different ways! The devil is...“not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

Tell us what you think, Jesus! 

Does the devil speak the truth? No, he does not. 

So if we believe him, then it’s the opposite of verse 32, right? “Then you will know only lies, and the lies will leave you enslaved.”

Here’s the major application point for this one. It’s obvious but hard to do:

Tune out the devil’s lies.

He is completely untrustworthy. You can’t believe anything he says. He often mixes in enough truth into his propaganda to make it sound plausible, and attractive. But it’s all deception. All smoke and mirrors and bait and switch. Tune out the devil’s lies.

How do you know which ones are which? Well, that’s why we have this book. We’re supposed to compare and contrast everything we see and hear and are offered against what Jesus has taught us. And then we hold fast to Jesus’ teaching and we jettison anything that doesn’t accord with it.


And he taught us some about how to navigate between them, steering towards God’s truth in light of God’s Word.

I remember a few years ago, I was driving down the road, and I turned on my radio, and it was stuck between like two different radio stations. And one of them was a Christian station with a song about Jesus being the way, the truth, and the life, and the other was a song from another station about how meaningless life is.

And I just left it right there on a the dial for a little bit and thought about the contrast.

That’s a picture of life for us right now, isn’t it? I’m not talking about radio station you listen to. I’m talking about what Father you listen to.  Because the Father of Jesus is telling you the truth (and Jesus is that truth), and the Father of Lies is doing what he always does. Which one are you tuning in?

Last month about this time I drove out to visit Isaac, and I used my GPS on my phone and I have a little thing that I plug in and can play my podcasts and GPS over the radio. But when I got into Indianapolis, the radio stations there started to bleed in, and drown out the GPS directions to get to Isaac’s house. 

“If you hold to my teaching, you are my really my disciples.” Stay tuned into the truth of Jesus and tune out the devil’s lies. And you will show who is truly your father. Verse 46.

“Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don't you believe me? He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.’”

“You aren’t tuning in because you don’t want to tune in. You aren’t tuning in because you are not God’s children.”

Jesus was sinless. Jesus was guiltless. He did not deserve to die. They only reason why they wanted Him to die was because they were children of The Killer. And they have their fingers in their ears. That’s why they come back more name calling. Instead of repenting, they double-down. Verse 48.

“The Jews answered him, ‘Aren't we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?’ ‘I am not possessed by a demon,’ said Jesus, ‘but I honor my Father and you dishonor me. I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. I tell you the truth, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death’” (vv.48-51). What a wonderful promise! 

Now, of course, He doesn’t mean physical death. He means spiritual death. He means John 3:16, “will not perish but have eternal life.” He means John 5:24, “crossed over from death to life.” He means John 11:25-26, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” He means John 8:12, “Will have the light of life.”

All you have to do is believe and keep believing.

Keep His word in your heart. “Hold to His teaching.” “Know the truth, and the truth will set you free” from spiritual death!

Have you put your faith and trust in Jesus’ word? If you have not yet, I invite you to do so now.

“I tell you the truth, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.”

Of course, the Pharisees misunderstand that, like they have been misunderstanding everything in this war of words. V.52

“At this the Jews exclaimed, ‘Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that if anyone keeps your word, he will never taste death. Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?’” (vv.52-53). 

They assume that Jesus would agree that He is not greater than Abraham who died. But the truth is that He is greater than Father Abraham. V.54

“Jesus replied, ‘If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and keep his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.’” (vv.54-56).

Point number three and last. What Jesus was saying to these people:

#3. YOUR (PHYSICAL) FATHER REJOICED FOR JESUS’ DAY.

Jesus claims that His Father (God the Father) is glorifying Jesus. That’s a huge claim! But it’s true. And if He said anything else, He’d be lying like the Pharisees (or like the devil). But Jesus also says that their father, Father Abraham rejoiced to see Jesus’ day. He says that Abraham saw it and was glad. What does that mean? 

Remember God gave Father Abraham some great big promises: Offspring, Land, and Blessing? Lots of blessing. Blessing the whole wide world!

And Father Abraham looked down the road toward the fulfillment of all of those promises, and he rejoiced in faith that those promises were all going to come true.

And we know how those promises are all going to come true–in Jesus! 

And that would be big enough, right? Father Abraham looked ahead to see the fulfillment of these promise and we know that that fulfillment is named “Jesus.”

But the Pharisees scoff and Jesus goes even bigger. Verse 57.

“‘You are not yet fifty years old,’ the Jews said to him, ‘and you have seen Abraham!’ ‘I tell you the truth,’ Jesus answered, ‘before Abraham was born, I am!’”

Whoa. What just happened? Jesus cranked the dial past 11 million. He uses that those words we’ve already seen a bunch of times “ego eimi” (I am) with something after it like I am the bread of life or I am the light of the world. Or what could be taken to mean, “I am he.” or “I am the one I claimed to be.”

And here He unmistakably just takes it by itself to decribe Himself.

“I am.”

“Before Abraham was born, I am!”

That sounds weird to us, but it sound blasphemous to them. This is the first thing they did not misunderstand in this war of words. Look what they did in verse 59. “At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.”

It still was not yet His time, His hour. But they understood what Jesus was saying. He was using the words from the burning bush (Exodus 3:14).

“I am that I am.”

Jesus was claiming to be pre-existent. “Before Abraham was.” And Jesus was claiming to be self-existent. “I am.” Jesus was claiming to be God.

Application:

Worship Jesus as the I Am.

They tried to kill Him; we should bow before Him. Jesus is God! He is pre-existent. He is self-existent.

He is was. He is is. He is will be. 

He is worthy of all of our worship for all eternity.

He is God the Son, and He sets His people free.


***

Messages in this Series

01. "That You May Believe" - John 20:30-31
02. "In The Beginning Was the Word" - John 1:1-18
03. "John's Testimony" - John 1:19-34
04. "Come and See" - John 1:35-51
05. "The First of His Miraculous Signs" - John 2:1-11
06. "This Temple" - John 2:12-25
07. "You Must Be Born Again" - John 3:1-15
08. "God So Loved The World" - John 3:16-21
09. "Above All" - John 3:22-36
10. "Living Water" - John 4:1-26
11. "Ripe for the Harvest" - John 4:27-42
12. "Your Son Will Live" - John 4:43-54
13. "Pick Up Your Mat and Walk" - John 5:1-18
14. "To Your Amazement" - John 5:19-30
15. "Testimony About Me" - John 5:31-47
Christmas Eve Bonus: "The Astonishing Gift" - John 3:16 Again
Christmas Eve Bonus: "We Have Seen His Glory" - John 1:1-18 Again
16. "Enough Bread" - John 6:1-15
17. "You Are Looking for Me" - John 6:16-36
18. "I Am the Bread of Life" - John 6:35-71
Vision Meeting Bonus: "As I Have Loved You" - John 13:34-35
19. "At the Feast" - John 7:1-52
20. "I Am the Light of the World" - John 8:12-30

Sunday, February 25, 2024

“I Am the Light of the World” [Matt's Messages]

“I Am the Light of the World”
Life in Jesus’ Name - The Gospel of John
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
February 25, 2024 :: John 8:12-30

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’”

What an astonishing thing to say!!

Jesus sure has a big view of Himself, doesn’t He? This is no small claim. 

Jesus doesn’t just say that He is bright and shiny and that people should look at Him.

That would be one thing. “Hey, I’m bright and shiny. I am really something to see. I have a glory about me. Check me out! Look at me. I practically glow!”

But that’s not what He says. Jesus doesn’t just claim to be a bright light in the world. One of several. He claims to be THE light of the world!


The “world” here is, “kosmos,” humanity united in sin and darkness. And Jesus says that He has slipped into the darkness of this kosmos, the darkness of the world, and turned on the lights [and is, in fact, the light of that world Himself.

Last time we were in the Gospel of John together, couple of weeks ago, I pointed out that Jesus has a way of making everything about Himself.

Here He says if you don’t have Him, then you have darkness. But if you do have Him, then you have light. And more than just light, you have life!

Listen to John 8:12 once again. I think we ought to memorize this one starting next week: “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'”

Most every morning, I get up before the sun does, and I put on my heavy coat and my reflective “high viz” vest, and my heated gloves, and my boots with cleats strapped to them, and grab my...flashlight. And I head out on my walk.

This time of the year it’s not as important as it is December. In December, if I don’t take my flashlight, then I often can be stumbling around on my morning hike. Maybe take a nose-dive, especially on the ice. I fell hard once in February of ‘21. Ouch! I need a light or I walk in darkness.

Jesus says that we if we follow Him in life, we will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.

What does He mean?

Remember, seven times in the Gospel of John, Jesus says “I Am _____” and then fills in the blank with a wondrous description of His true identity. We’re going to see seven of these as we go through John together.

We’ve already studied one of them in this series. Do you remember what it was? Jesus says in chapter 6, “I am the bread of life.” Bread that leads to life. Bread that endures to life. If we treat Jesus like we treat bread, then we will have eternal life.

Well, here Jesus is promising the same thing with a different metaphor. Jesus says that He gives “the light of life.” Life eternal. Life better than anything that this world offers. Life that knows what reality really is. Life that escapes the death of darkness. Life that comes through the light. Life in Jesus’ name.

Light is a metaphor here for the glorious power of Christ to create life within the believer. The light of life.

John talked about this way back in chapter 1. He says this is why Jesus came. Chapter 1, verse 4. “In [the Word] was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it” (Jn. 1:4-5, NIVO).

I was complaining to Heather Joy yesterday about how wonderful this verse is. (Something you should never complain about.) But I just can’t capture how wonderful this promise is.

What does it mean for Jesus to be the light of the world?

Light speaks about power.
Light speaks about glory.
Light is about beauty.
Light is about purity.
Light is about holiness.
Light is about life.

It’s small word, “light,” but it is everything!

And if you don’t have it, you have nothing.

You have darkness.
You have emptiness.
You have ugliness.
You have impurity.
You have sinfulness.
You have lostness.
You have death.

Do you feel how big this is?!

Think about the opposite. Jesus could have said it like this:

“Whoever rejects me will always walk in darkness and will have the darkness of death.”

That is true, too. That’s how important it is to understand John 8:12. It’s the difference between light and darkness. It’s the difference between life and death.

I have three points of application this morning, and they are each a matter of life and death.

#1. FOLLOW JESUS AND HAVE THE LIGHT OF LIFE.

That’s what He says in verse 12.  “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

The application is obvious. Follow Jesus. If you have never begun to follow Jesus, then it’s my joy to invite you to start today.  He will not lead you astray. He will be your light, and He will give you life. He’s will be for you like the pillar of fire in the Old Testament that lit the way forward for God’s people in the wilderness. You will not be tripped up or trapped by your sin, by Satan, or by the world. You will be free and walk in the freedom of light. Come follow Jesus.

If you have already begun to follow Jesus, then I encourage you to keep going. Stay His disciple. Stay on the narrow path. Keep following Jesus. He will light your way. Last week, we talked a lot about marriage and how our theology of marriage is a mark of discipleship. 

We talked about a lot of ways in which we might struggle to follow Jesus and do marriage or singleness Jesus’ way, following God’s good design for our bodies, for our relationships, for our families, for our marriages. And it’s not always easy to do it that way. It’s not always easy to follow Jesus in discipleship. But it is the path that is illumined for us. Don’t go off into the darkness. Follow Jesus and have the light of life. It’s worth it! Following Jesus is always worth it. Especially in the light of eternity.

Now, you can feel already how Jesus is saying that there are two sides and only two sides. There is light and there is darkness, and we have to choose. In the rest of chapter 8, that choice becomes even more clear and stark. In the rest of chapter 8, Jesus gets into a verbal confrontation with the Pharisees.

When I first taught on John 8 twenty five years ago, I called this section, the “Fight with the Pharisees.” It’s going to take us at least two weeks to work through all of it.

The Pharisees (by and large) did NOT follow Jesus. They did NOT like what Jesus said in verse 12. They did not receive Him. They wanted to debate with Him, and in fact, they rejected His claims to be the light of world. They objected. “Objection, your honor!” Look at verse 13.

“The Pharisees challenged him, ‘Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.’”

“You’re not the light of the world. In fact, you are an unreliable witness in your own defense.”

And Jesus said, “Oh, I’m sorry. I must have spoken out of turn.”

No, that’s not what He says! Jesus gets feisty with them. Jesus fights back. Verse 14.

“Jesus answered, ‘Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going.”

Jesus says that He is qualified to talk about Who He is. Because He knows Who He is.

And they don’t. They are ignorant. "I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going." You know what we call that? Darkness. Look at verse 15. 

"You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one.” Not the way you do! These guys were looking at all of the wrong indicators to figure out Who Jesus was. They were focused on all of the wrong things, outward appearances. And they were missing the Light of the World.

Jesus didn’t just make decisions about people based on a limited understanding of outward appearances. Like His Father, Jesus looked on the heart. And He knew where people really were. Because of His relationship with His father. Verse 16.

“But if I do judge, my decisions are right, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me.”

Now, think about that verse for just a second. What does that sound like? It sounds to me like chapter 1. Notice what Jesus says is His relationship with God the Father.

Jesus is not alone.
He is the Son.

He is the Son sent by the Father. So He’s FROM the Father. He has FROM-ness to use the language we said before. 

But He also has WITH-ness, doesn’t He? “I am not alone. I stand WITH the Father.” 

He is from, and He is with the Father! So they are one, but they are also two. And two is the number of witnesses that Deuteronomy says you need to have to establish a matter! So, even by their own rules, Jesus can speak as His own witness, because He doesn’t speak alone. Verse 17.

“In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two men is valid. I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.’”

Now, that should be a mic-drop moment. Jesus says that God the Father(!) has sent Him and testifies that Jesus is His Son and the Light of the World. That should be enough, right? Those are two pretty amazing witnesses.

Well, it wasn’t enough for the Pharisees. Look at verse 19.

“Then they asked him, ‘Where is your father?’ [Huh? How about you produce him? Where is Joseph anyway? They are ignorant. Probably intentionally so. Of course, He got into a lot trouble when He said that God was His Father in chapter 5. But...He goes there again. Verse 19] ‘You do not know me or my Father,’ Jesus replied. ‘If you knew me, you would know my Father also.’”

#2. KNOW JESUS AND HAVE KNOWLEDGE OF HIS FATHER.

Know Jesus and know His father. Jesus says that if you know Him, you will know God the Father, as well. Now, that’s scary for those who do not know Jesus (especially those who do not want to know Jesus), but it is so wonderful for you and me.

Do you want to know God? Do you want to have intimate knowledge of the Creator and Lord of the Universe?

You know that God is high and holy and invisible and glorious and lives in unapproachable light (1 Timothy 6:16)? Nobody has ever seen Him!

But what does John 1:18 say? “No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known” (Jn. 1:18 NIVO). If you know Jesus, you know His Father.

Let me give you an illustration of this. It's a little known fact that I proposed marriage to Heather Joy before I asked her father for his blessing. In fact, I proposed marriage to Heather Joy before I had even met her father and mother in person.

Now, it is not a little known fact that in-laws can be a big part of a good marriage.  You might be wondering, how I dared to propose without seeing fully what I was getting into. What would the in-laws be like? They were 2,000 miles away in Canada but would become a big part of my life in a short amount of time. And I was accepting them, sight unseen. Sounds dangerous right? 

(If not, you haven't been married!)

No, because I knew their daughter. Because I had made a study of Heather Joy, I knew what I was getting into by seeking to add her parents to my family. I could have been wrong, because Heather is not a perfect representation of her parents, but I had a pretty good idea of who they were before I ever laid eyes on them. (And they turned out to be better than I ever expected!)

Now, think about Jesus. According to v.19, he is the perfect representation of God to us. If you want to know what God is really like, look at Jesus.  When you come to know him, you really know the Father.

Jesus is basically going to say that in the Upper Room when we get to chapter 14. He’s going to say, “If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him” (Jn. 14:7-8 NIVO).

So you want to know God, study Jesus. 

The book of Hebrews says, “The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being...” (Heb. 1:3 NIVO).

He is the Light of the World.
He is the Light of God!
“True Light of True Light.”

We accept this, but Jesus was saying really dangerous things right there. In public. That’s why verse 20 says, “He spoke these words while teaching in the temple area near the place where the offerings were put. Yet no one seized him, because his time had not yet come.”

Remember Jesus said that to His brothers in the last chapter. It wasn’t His time yet. The hour of His passion had not yet come.

That doesn’t mean they didn’t want to arrest Him, but they just weren’t able to yet. Even though He was there at the temple saying things like this that if you want to know God, you need to know Him.

“I am the light of the world.”

In verse 21, Jesus predicts the future, and for the Pharisees, it is bleak. Verse 21.

“Once more Jesus said to them, ‘I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come.’

This made the Jews ask, ‘Will he kill himself? Is that why he says, 'Where I go, you cannot come'?’

But he continued, ‘You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.’”

#3. BELIEVE IN JESUS AND HAVE YOUR SINS FORGIVEN.

The stakes could not be higher. He says it three times, “you will indeed die in your sins.” That’s scary! That means that these people would die with their sins wrapped around them and go into God’s judgment.

In verse 21, Jesus talked about His death and resurrection and ascension. “I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come.”

I think He means that they will keep looking for a Messiah even after Jesus’ resurrection. The Pharisees will, by and large, reject Jesus, and they will not go where He is going if they reject Him.

They will stumble in the darkness. “You will die in your sin.”

The Pharisees ask if Jesus is depressed and suicidal. “Will he kill himself? Is that why he says, ‘Where I go, you cannot come.’” I don’t think they really want to understand what He means. They are not seeking the truth. They are content to live in the darkness.

Jesus says that the divide between them could not be greater. “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.'" And so you will go to Hell.

But! We don’t have to go to Hell. We don’t have die in our sins. We don’t have to stumble in the darkness. We can follow Jesus have the light of life. We can believe in Jesus and have our sins forgiven.

That’s the flipside of verse 24, isn’t it?

“[I]f you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.”

But the opposite is also true, “If you DO BELIEVE that I am the one I claim to be, you will have your sins forgiven.”

“I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life” (Jn. 5:24 NIVO).

Now, hidden in the words of the NIV are some very interesting words in the Greek. They are going to be front and center next week, Lord-willing. Your translation may say, “believe that I am He.” Or it might actually just say believe, “I am.” Because that’s the Greek. “Ego Eimi.” “I am.” 

Like, “I am the light of the world.”

Or like at the burning bush, “I am who I am...Tell them ‘I am’ sent you.”

The NIV translation, “I am the one I claim to be” is very good. I think that is the sense of the words here. The correct interpretation. But you can’t help hear “I am.” “Believe I am.” But these men do not. They challenge Him again. Verse 25.

“‘Who are you?’ they asked. ‘Just what I have been claiming all along,’ Jesus replied. I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is reliable, and what I have heard from him I tell the world’” (vv.25-26).

They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father.” They didn’t want to understand. 

“Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19).

They didn’t want to know Who Jesus really is our Who His Father really is. But one day everyone will know. Verse 28.

“So Jesus said, ‘When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be [“I am” “ego eimi”] and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.’”

Isn’t that amazing teaching? It’s that amazing Trinitarian teaching that the Son is never alone.

He is sent but He is with.
He is sent by the Father but is with the Father.
He is not abandoned and out there doing His own thing.

And everything He does is right. He always does what pleases the Father.

What does that sound like? Like what the Father said at His baptism, right? Our baptism class just looked at that this morning.

“This is my Son, whom I loved. With Him I am well pleased.”

For He always does what please Me.

Listen to Him. 
Put your faith in Him.
Believe in Him.

There is Life in Jesus’ name.
There is Light in Jesus’ name.

Because the Son is going to be “lifted up.” Did you catch that in verse 28?

Jesus said in chapter 3 that He was going to be lifted up which could mean that He will be exalted, and of course, He will.

But this kind of lifted up was lifted up on a pole. Like the snake in the wilderness. Jesus was going to be lifted up onto a Cross to die.

“I always do what pleases Him.”

And on that terrible day, what pleased God was to crush His Son and cause Him to suffer (Isaiah 53:10), making His life a guilt offering for you and me.

“[H]e was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:5-6 NIVO).

Believe in Jesus and have your sins forgiven.

Verse 30 says that, “Even as he spoke, many put their faith in him.”

Some of that was fake faith, I’m sure. We’ll see that next week.

But some of it was probably real. And He invites you and me to really believe in Him today.

Believe in Jesus and have your sins forgiven.
Know Jesus and know His Father.
Follow Jesus and have the light of life.

Now and forever.

Because the last page of the Bible says that in the New Heavens and the New Earth, “There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 22:5 NIVO). 

Because Jesus was right when He said, “I am the Light of the World.”

***

Previous Messages In This Series:

01. "That You May Believe" - John 20:30-31
02. "In The Beginning Was the Word" - John 1:1-18
03. "John's Testimony" - John 1:19-34
04. "Come and See" - John 1:35-51
05. "The First of His Miraculous Signs" - John 2:1-11
06. "This Temple" - John 2:12-25
07. "You Must Be Born Again" - John 3:1-15
08. "God So Loved The World" - John 3:16-21
09. "Above All" - John 3:22-36
10. "Living Water" - John 4:1-26
11. "Ripe for the Harvest" - John 4:27-42
12. "Your Son Will Live" - John 4:43-54
13. "Pick Up Your Mat and Walk" - John 5:1-18
14. "To Your Amazement" - John 5:19-30
15. "Testimony About Me" - John 5:31-47
Christmas Eve Bonus: "The Astonishing Gift" - John 3:16 Again
Christmas Eve Bonus: "We Have Seen His Glory" - John 1:1-18 Again
16. "Enough Bread" - John 6:1-15
17. "You Are Looking for Me" - John 6:16-36
18. "I Am the Bread of Life" - John 6:35-71
Vision Meeting Bonus: "As I Have Loved You" - John 13:34-35
19. "At the Feast" - John 7:1-52

Sunday, February 18, 2024

“What God Has Joined Together" [Matt's Messages]

“What God Has Joined Together”
Marriage - God’s Divine Design
February 18, 2024 :: Matthew 19:1-12

“What God Has Joined Together.”

Those words are how our Lord Jesus describes marriage in Matthew chapter 19, verse 6.

The chief reason for our detour into the Gospel of Matthew this morning is that a number of you have asked me to share more about what we had studied last week at the EFCA Theology Conference in the Chicagoland area.

The theme of the national theology conference was “Marriage: God’s Divine Design – Protology/Teleology, Anthropology, Hamartiology, Soteriology, Ecclesiology, and Eschatology.” Three guesses who came up with that subtitle, and the first two don’t count! Yes, it was Greg Strand! Typically big words and typically rich and robust theology. 

At the conference, Isaac and I listened to six major lectures on the theology of marriage and a number of breakout workshops, as well. I’m so thankful to belong to an association of churches that takes sound biblical theology so seriously.

And what an important topic for today, is it not? Just as Keith Hurley is teaching the teens about these things at “Chasing Love” on Sunday evenings, our theology of marriage touches all of us in some way in today’s culture. There is a lot of confusion about marriage, not just out in society but within the church, as well. The whole first lecture at the conference by a Christian sociologist from Grove City College was all about the state of marriage, changes and challenges, how we’ve gotten to where we are. [All of the messages are now online.]

And as we’ve been focusing here this month on LOVE, especially God’s love, vast as the ocean, and our being God’s people exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit, the first aspect of which is LOVE as Joel taught us last Sunday, it seemed to me like it might be good for us to meditate on marriage today.

 

“What God Has Joined Together.”

There are many married people in this room. Some of you have been married for a long long time. Heather and I are coming up on 30 years this June. We’ve celebrated a lot of Valentine’s Days together. Some of you have seen many more! I think the Kepharts have been married for 66 years! There are also many unmarried people in this room. Some of you have recently had to bury a spouse. Some of you had to do that years ago. Some of you have been divorced. Some of you have never married. Some of you will soon marry--Reece and Hannah!. Some of you will never marry. Some of you will marry down the line. I doubt that anybody coming to Snack and Yack today with Heather and me is engaged yet!

We’re all in different places, but we all need to have a good theology of marriage in place no matter where we are at in life. 

And Matthew 19 is a great place to start building one.  Matthew 19 marks the beginning of a new section in the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus has finished teaching in Galilee in the north and is now headed south towards Jerusalem. It’s a little bit further into the story than we are right now in the Gospel of John. And on His way to Jerusalem, Jesus runs into some Pharisees, and they have a test for Jesus on His theology of marriage. How do you think that’s going to go?

Here’s a life-hack for you. A pro-tip for living: Never try to lay a trap for Jesus. 

Unless you like falling into your own traps! Let me read the first two verses.

“When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went into the region of Judea to the other side of the Jordan. Large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.”

Jesus is marching towards Jerusalem. You and I know what is going to happen there. And Jesus knows what’s going to happen there. It’s what we focus on this time of year. Jesus is headed towards the Cross. He’s going to be abandoned there as He pays for our sins, but right now the crowds are still following Him and He’s healing the sick among them.

And then in verse 3, some Pharisees come, and they see the good work that Jesus is doing, and they see how the crowds are following Him, and they are convinced by His words that He is the Messiah, and they bow before Him and lead the nation to follow Him themselves.

Just kidding. LOL. That’s not at all what they do! That’s what they should do, but it’s not what they do. No, they come to Jesus and try to trap Him. V.3

“Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?’”

“Let’s give Jesus a theological test and see if He passes.” They are not sincere. They are not asking this question to find out the truth. They have an agenda with this question. They want to trap Jesus.

How does that work? Well, there was a big debate during this time about the theology of divorce. There were two major schools of thought. The school of Rabbi Shammai and the school of Rabbi Hillel. We learned about this in the third main message at the conference from the author of this book: Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage: Critical Questions and Answers.

Rabbi Shammai said that God requires divorce only in the case of adultery. But Rabbi Hillel said that God allows divorce any time a man is unhappy with his wife. Even if she burns dinner or her eyebrows get too bushy. And the Pharisees think that they can trap Jesus with this question: Which side are you on?”

“If you side with Rabbi Hillel, and anything goes, doesn’t that contradict what you said at the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:32? And where does it all end?

But if you side with Rabbi Shammai (and I think that’s what they really hope He will do), then you might get into trouble with Herod Antipas.”

Do you remember Herod Antipas from when we studied this gospel together? John the Baptist (Notorious JTB) told “King” Herod Antipas that his divorce and remarriage to his former sister-in-law Herodias was not lawful. Do you remember what happened to John the Baptist because of that? Prison first. And then off with his head. That’s what happens if you side with Rabbi Shammai in those days.

They think they’ve got Jesus. Maybe they’ve even stumped Him. Can Jesus answer this stumper of a question?  What do you think?

The last time I preached this passage, I titled my sermon, “The Lord of Marriage.” Because Jesus does not just have a theology of marriage; His theology flows from His own authority. He is Lord over marriage. 

The Pharisees obviously don’t recognize this or they wouldn’t be asking the question this way, but that’s their mistake. Jesus pushes back. V.4

“‘Haven't you read,’ he replied, ‘that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.’”

It’s always a sick burn when Jesus says, “Haven’t you read your Bibles?” They think they have Him stumped, and Jesus says, “I think the answer to that one is on the first page of your Bible. Haven’t you read it? I think you’re missing the point. Let’s go back and look.”

And Jesus leads them on a Bible study of Genesis 1 and 2. And that’s what we did at the conference in the second major message. The speaker, a former professor at Trinity, started in Genesis and took us all the way to Revelation, seeing what the Bible says about marriage from cover to cover.

It’s always smart to start at the very beginning. It’s a very good place to start. Jesus was saying that they are starting in the wrong place with their questions.  We’ll see that they are starting with Deuteronomy 24, but Jesus says, “You’ve got to go back further than that or you’ll be missing the point.”

And speaking of points, I have three points of application for today’s message.

Here’s the first:

#1. TRUST THE DESIGNER TO DEFINE MARRIAGE.

That was the title of our conference, “Marriage: God’s Divine Design.” Look at v.4 again.

“‘Haven't you read,’ he replied, ‘that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one.” 

Marriage is God’s idea. He designed it. It’s not something that we came up with. It came from (v.4), “the Creator.” The Designer. The Original Lord of Marriage. Marriage is God’s idea, and so we should get our ideas of what marriage should be from Him.  Make sense?

Obviously, this flies in the face of so much of our modern culture, including among professing Christians. We want to define marriage our own way. We want to do what we want to do with it. And we figure that God (if He exists) just has to be okay with that.

But that’s exactly wrong. He is the Lord of Marriage. We need to listen to Him.

Marriage, for Christians, is a matter of discipleship.

This passage (vv.4-6) is very relevant to a whole host of contemporary issues and questions. It addresses marriage and also divorce. It also addresses same-sex marriage and transgenderism, doesn’t it? It has implications for LGBTQ.

Because Jesus says (v.4) that Genesis 1 says that humans are made male and female. Two biological sexes. Different and complementary. Male and female, not interchangeable. Not changeable. And that it was good. It was beautiful. It was God’s good design.

And here’s what marriage is. Jesus says that Genesis 2 says that a man (1 man, this passage addresses bigamy and polygamy, as well, a man) will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife (1 biological woman), and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one.

So here’s God’s math for marriage: One plus one equals one. One man and one woman come together to be one flesh. One new thing: a married couple. That’s the design.

Do not believe it if people tell you that Jesus never said anything about same-sex marriage.

Jesus said, “I agree with Genesis.”

The Creator has designed marriage, and it is good. In fact, it’s beautiful. God designed marriage to be a thing of beauty. Every faithful marriage is a gorgeous glorious thing for the whole world to behold!

In fact, the Apostle Paul quotes this same passage of Genesis and says that every marriage is designed to be a beautiful picture of the relationship between Jesus Christ and His church! Read Ephesians 5 this afternoon.


And that’s happening in every faithful Christian marriage in this room right now. The marriages here are a thing of beauty that sing about Christ’s love for His bride and His bride’s love for Him.

Well done, you. Keep it up! Don’t stop now. If you're engaged or believe you should be, jump into marriage live this thing of beauty! Be a picture of Christ and His bride that sings!

Trust the Designer to Define Marriage and believe that it is good and beautiful and sacred.

Which also means that abuse within marriage is a terrible, ugly, anti-picture of the gospel. Our fourth main message was all about that, by a Christian counselor who works with victims and perpetrators of domestic abuse. It was probably the most painful and sickening message at the conference. It was also a compelling Bible study of the book of Genesis which does not shy away from recounting ugly intimate partner abuse and how antithetical that is to God’s good design.

If you are abusing your spouse, you are defying God’s good design for marriage.

And if you are being abused, that’s not the way it’s supposed to be, and you don’t just have to take it. Get to safety. Find help. There was whole session on responding wisely to domestic abuse, and we are committed here to doing that as a church. Because God’s good design is on the line.

Jesus taught, “[A]t the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one.”

Trust the Designer to Define Marriage.

By the way, this passage also addresses co-habitation, doesn’t it? Living together as if you are married when you are not married. We talked about this recently in John chapter 4 with the woman at the well. It's one of the things I'm most concerned about as a pastor as even many professing Christians are falling into this sinful error.

Living together as if you are married when you are not married is not how God designed the one-flesh relationship.

The one flesh relationship is for a husband and a wife. Two people who have de-prioritized all other loyalties and then re-prioritized each other as their number one loyalty on earth so that they have actually formed a new entity, a new family, a new unity. “So they are no longer two, but one.”

That’s what marriage is, and it’s where sex belongs. “One flesh” means more than just sex, but it doesn’t mean less. Two bodies coming together in sexual intimacy is for marriage, by God’s design.

When God made our bodies, He made them for sex. He didn’t make Adam and Eve and then say, “Oh no, what are they doing?!”  No, Genesis says that after He made them male and female, “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen. 1:28 NIVO). He knew what He was doing when He made us sexual creatures.  But He gave us the gift of sex to be enjoyed within the covenant of marriage.

Trust the Designer. He knows best!

I know it doesn’t always seem that way.

I do know that some people have same-sex attraction–persistent, unsought same-sex attraction. And they want to marry somebody of the same sex, and it seems like that would be really good to them. But that’s not how the Creator designed marriage. That’s not what marriage is. And the Lord of Marriage is calling us as His people to trust Him to do things His way and be blessed.

And I also know that some people suffer from gender dysphoria. They feel great unease about their own bodies. They would rather be the other sex than what they were given when they were conceived. I empathize with that pain. It must be very great, and I don’t pretend to know the half of it. It’s part of the brokenness of our world. But I do know that my Creator is good and His design for creation is good. And I know that I can trust Him.

And I know that some people are simply wary of marriage. They think it’s just a piece of paper. They have seen the ravages of divorce. They want to make sure that this person they want to be with is the “right person,” and so they want to test drive the relationship and live like they’re married before they are married just to make sure. And there are, unfortunately in some cases, financial benefits to living together instead of getting married. But that’s not how God designed it. That’s going against the grain of the universe. As is polygamy. And, as we’ll see, as is divorce in general.

Jesus is asking us to trust the Designer of Marriage and do it His way.

If you are living together like you are married and you are not married, the Lord of marriage is calling you to repent and to either to marry or to separate. To follow Jesus and do marriage His way.

One of you asked me after the conference if pastors in the EFCA were open to performing or blessing same-sex “weddings.” And the answer is no. And that if we did, we would lose our standing as pastors in the EFCA as would any EFCA church that went down that road.

In June of 2017 the national conference of the EFCA affirmed a resolution that says, “The Evangelical Free Church of America affirms that God created human beings uniquely in His image as male and female, and He has designed marriage to be a covenantal relationship between one man and one woman.” Sounds like Genesis. Sounds like Jesus.

And that was affirmed unanimously. For which I’m grateful. But I’m also grateful that at that very same conference, we followed that unanimous affirmation of God’s good design for marriage, by spending three hours in training each other how to love and serve and care for and relate to people with same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria.

Because we have been so loved, we are called to love. There are probably people several people in this room that experience same-sex attraction. I’m so glad you’re here. There may be a few of you who experience gender dysphoria. I’m so glad you’re here. I’m glad that we have a single-use restroom back that hallway over there so that everyone can feel comfortable and go to the bathroom in peace. I’m sure that if someone who is trans* or queer or non-binary (or de-transitioning) comes respectfully into our meeting, checking things out, that you all will show the love of Jesus to them with sweet hospitality.

Because we are trying, in God’s power, “to be God’s people in this place, live His goodness, share His grace, proclaim God’s mercy through His Son, be His love to everyone.” (Charles F. Brown)

Without compromise to His truth.

The Lord is calling us to trust the Designer to define marriage.

We don’t look to society to define marriage.
We don’t look to the US government to define marriage.
We don’t look to the Supreme Court to define marriage.

They are all going to do what they are going to do. But we, as Christians, are called to do what the Lord Jesus says we should do.

Now, your struggle with defining marriage might be different from what we’ve talked about already today. I don’t know what everybody here is tempted to do with marriage. But left to our devices, we will always come up with a design flaw, and we need to go back to the drawing board and follow the original design as best we can.

Again, in Matthew 19, the main issue was divorce. And here’s what the designer of marriage said about that. Look at verse 6.

“Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”

Application point number two (and,, don't worry, they will get shorter as we get towards the end of this message):

#2. DON’T RUSH TO AMPUTATE WHAT THE LORD HAS STITCHED.

“[W]hat God has joined together, let man not separate.’” What has God joined together? He calls it “one flesh.” Now, that’s just a metaphor, but what a picture that is! It’s like one man surgically sewn together with one woman to form a new unity. And after the surgery heals, there’s just one entity there.

And Who is the surgeon? “What GOD has joined together.” Marriage is not just something that two people do to themselves. It’s not even just something that the state does to two people. Jesus says that God puts people together into marriages. So we should be very careful about pulling them apart!

Do you see how this answers the Pharisees’ question? They wanted to know when it was okay to divorce. Jesus says, “Divorce?! Uh. That’s never ‘okay.’ That’s never best. That’s never good. Divorce wasn’t the idea. Divorce wasn’t the design, the intention from the start.”

Don’t do that if you can at all help it. Don’t just amputate what the Lord has stitched together.

Now, I know that this is a painful subject for many us in this room.

We have all been touched by divorce in our families, and many of you have experienced divorces personally. It has come closer in our extended family in recent months than ever before. I know this is painful. For some of you, it’s painful because you didn’t want it, but it happened to you anyway. For some of you, it’s painful because you know you did it wrong, and you feel the weight of that. For some of you, most of you who have been divorced, you feel some degree of shame. Even if you didn’t do anything shameful in the whole process, you still feel shame put on you by others. Even what I’ve said so far this morning might seem to pile it on further.

There is confusion and hurt. When you let someone into your life so that they get all the way to “one-flesh,” and then that relationship breaks and becomes jagged, it’s got to hurt. Being in conflict and estranged and eventually divided from the person who was the closest person to you has got to have lingering effects.

I know that divorces are painful. And so does the Lord.

And divorce, even sinful divorce, is not the unforgivable sin. And not all divorces are sinful (at least on one side) as we’ll see in verse 9. But Jesus is saying that divorce should be avoided if at all possible. We should be extremely reluctant to divorce because what God has joined together is something we should not separate. Marriage wasn’t designed to be temporary. It was supposed to be dissolved only by death.

So the Pharisees have a comeback. They don’t realize that they have already lost. They whip out Deuteronomy 24:1, and think they have answered Jesus. V.7

“‘Why then,’ they asked, ‘did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?’ [Huh, Jesus? Riddle me that! Answer that one!]

Jesus replied, [You numbskulls] ‘Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.”

Notice that word “permitted.”

Here’s where Jesus differs from Rabbi Shammai. Shammai thought that if there was adultery, then God required a divorce. “No,” Jesus says, “God through Moses permitted a divorce in those cases because of hard hearts, but He didn’t command them.” You don’t have to divorce even when there has been sexual immorality. That’s not the way it was is in the beginning. The design was for permanence. Marriage was built to last.

Yes, we messed it all up. Hard hearts. Lots of sin. Lots of covenant breaking. Yes, divorce got allowed. (Even polygamy gets allowed for a time.) But that wasn’t the design. Don’t rush out and get a divorce! Make every effort you can to salvage that thing. 

I know that’s not what the world says. The world rushes to divorce. And so do many professing Christians. And again, there are solid reasons to divorce, as we’ll see in verse 9. And if you have divorced for the wrong reasons, there is plenty grace at the Cross for all repentant sinners.

But the Lord of Marriage says, “Don’t rush to amputate what I have sewn together.”

Divorce should be a last resort. If possible, if the conditions are right including the appropriate repentance, then lean towards forgiveness. Because, verse 9: “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

Now, you hear the exception there. And there is at least one other exception that Paul lays out in 1 Corinthians 7, abandonment by an unbelieving spouse. There may be more exceptions when the covenant is broken beyond repair.

But the emphasis here is not on the exception of sexual immorality, the Greek is “porneia” from which we get our word “porn” and it means various kinds of covenant-breaking sexual unfaithfulness.

The emphasis isn’t on the exception. It’s on the fact that if you divorce and remarry for the wrong reasons, you are committing adultery, breaking the 7th commandment. You’re badly amputating what the Lord has sewn together. 

And notice by Whose word this is. V.9 “I tell you...” Don’t miss that! That’s super important. Jesus is laying down the law here Himself. Jesus is the Lord of Marriage! And He’s saying, “Don’t do it. Don’t divorce for the wrong reasons. What God has joined together, let man not separate.”

Now, there is an exception here. And it’s a true one. If one spouse falls into marital unfaithfulness (porneia), they are, in that moment, ripping up the surgery themselves and defacing the one-flesh  relationship.  If your spouse has done that to you, you are permitted by the Lord of Marriage to divorce them.

Permitted, not commanded! I’d still say, “Make every effort. Even when it doesn’t feel like it.” Because we know that our marriages are pictures of Christ and the Church. And if we can salvage them, they can still be wonderfully beautiful pictures of Christ and the Church! We should be extremely reluctant to throw away any pictures of Christ and the Church.

But it is permitted, especially if an offending spouse is unrepentant. If they are amputating what the Lord has stitched together, you certainly don’t have to pretend that all is well. But the Lord of Marriage wants us to do everything on our end to uphold it.

Now, the disciples overreact to what Jesus has just taught. V.10

“The disciples said to him, ‘If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.’”

I’m pretty sure that was the Apostle Peter! Sounds like him, doesn’t it? Peter was married already. He knew that marriage was a lot of work. And now Jesus says that it’s “for better, for worse, and for keeps?” 

You might feel trapped in a marriage if it’s for life. A life sentence.

What’s fascinating is that even though that’s a rash overreaction, Jesus basically says, “Yeah, that’s right for some people.” For some people it is better to not marry. V.11

“Jesus replied, ‘Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. [There’s three kinds.] For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage [or became eunuchs] because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.’”

So, surprisingly, our last application point is:

#3. SERIOUSLY CONSIDER CELIBACY FOR THE KINGDOM.

Ironically, the Lord of Marriage says that marriage is not for everyone. Some people are (at least for a time and some for a lifetime) called to celibate singleness. 

And that’s not strange. We think that’s so strange. We think that’s so hard.

“Celibacy is so hard!”

But Jesus says, “Marriage is hard. Celibacy is just a different kind of hard.”

You know what’s hard?

Being born an eunuch. Being celibate because your body came out that way. Being celibate because somebody did that to you. It’s actually much easier to choose to live the celibate lifestyle than to have forced on you.

But what if you choose it for the kingdom? Isn’t that quite a phrase in verse 12, “because of the kingdom of heaven?!” Last time I preached this passage, I was really struck by this quote from Pastor Douglas O’Donnell.

He said, “The kingdom of heaven is so important that it should seem perfectly normal if someone would want to give up marriage for it.”

The remaining major message at the theology conference was by a pastor who has been a single man for his whole life. And he said that there are a bunch of reasons why it can be advantageous for the kingdom for Christians to stay single, at least for a time, and for some a life-time.

And if you are called to that, embrace it. Jesus says, “The one who can accept this should accept this.” 

And those of us who are married should celebrate those who are single right now for the kingdom. I think, all to often, we’ve treated singles as second-class kingdom citizens. But that’s totally wrong. The Apostle Paul talks about this in 1 Corinthians 7, as well. Single Christians are first class kingdom citizens if they are living for the Lord. And this church has an awesome history of having wonderful single people in it serving the Lord.

There are many right here in this room today. If you are single right now and serving the Lord, thank you.

Thank you for being celibate.
Thank you for being devoted.
Thank you for using your singleness for the Kingdom.

You are living something beautiful, as well.

You know who you are like? You’re like the Apostle Paul. 

And you’re like the Lord Jesus Christ. Because ironically, the Lord of Marriage never got married Himself.

Or perhaps it’s better to say, He’s still engaged to be married to the Church His Bride, and we await the Wedding Supper of the Lamb when all earthly marriages will be over and we all will have in full what they all pointed to in part, the relationship between the Lord of Marriage and His Church.

What God will join together for eternity.

Sunday, February 04, 2024

“At The Feast” [Matt's Messages]

“At The Feast”
Life in Jesus’ Name - The Gospel of John
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
February 4, 2024 :: John 7:1-52  

Have you ever noticed that Jesus has a way of making everything about Him?

The conversation that swirls around Jesus keeps coming back to Jesus. And He keeps talking about Himself, too.

Some people are always deflecting attention from themselves.  Some people are always drawing attention to themselves. Some people can’t help it if attention gets drawn to them for whatever reason. Some other people keep making themselves the topic of conversation.

Most of the time, we get tired of people like that–people that make everything about them.

But what if there was Someone that everything actually was about?

Have you made up your mind yet about Who you think Jesus really is? Have you decided yet which side you are on? The short passage that Keagan read ended with this statement, “[T]he people were divided because of Jesus.”

There are really only two options. 

With Him or against Him. 
For Him or opposed to Him.
Believe in Him or disbelieve.
Follow Him or leave.

At the end of the last chapter, some of those who had been following Him decided to cut out. The options seemed to be that Jesus was either bonkers or bread. And they decided that that Jesus must be bonkers.

Anybody Who thinks they are as important as bread must be “cuckoo for coco-puffs.” And Jesus insisted that He was the Bread of Life.  (See what I mean about Jesus making everything about Himself?) You see that there is no middle ground. 

And John chapter 7 tells the story of how more and more people were divided over Jesus at the feast. This story takes place around about one week–just before, during, and at the end of the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles. 


Let’s get into it together. John chapter 7, verse 1.

“After this, Jesus went around in Galilee, purposely staying away from Judea because the Jews there were waiting to take his life. But when the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near, Jesus' brothers said to him, ‘You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.’ For even his own brothers did not believe in him” (vv.1-5). Let’s stop there for a second.

So Jesus has been hanging around up North because the people in the South want to kill Him.

Does that mean that Jesus is scared? There’s a lot of fear in chapter 7, but I don’t think it’s Jesus that shows the most fear here. Jesus is apparently being strategic.

By they way, do you remember why they want to kill Jesus? He’s kind of seen as a public enemy by the Jewish Religious Authorities. Remember what His crime in Jerusalem was last time? It wasn’t because He cleaned out the temple with whip or knocked over the tables of commerce.

It was because Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath and then said that He did it because His Father is always working on the Sabbath, and so does He. Remember that? John chapter 5. That’s why they want Him dead.

And He doesn’t want to be dead just yet, so He’s been hanging around in the North. But His half-brothers try to egg Him on to going down to the Feast of Tabernacles.

The Festival of Shelters or the Festival of Booths was one of three biggest national annual celebrations centered in Jerusalem each year. Everybody hit town and threw a gigantic party. The Feast of Tabernacles came at the end of the harvest. So it was kind of like our Thanksgiving, but it was huge. And everybody moved out of their homes for a whole week and lived in tents. This is the like the Great Israelite Camping Extravaganza. Everybody gets out their tent or builds one out of branches and leaves and stuff and remembers what it was like to live in tents for 40 years when they were rescued from Egypt and brought safely to the Promised Land. And it was full of rejoicing. It was a gigantic camping party for the whole nation!

And Jesus’ half-brothers are like, “Hey, Jesus! You like to make everything about yourself. You should make this about yourself. You should go to Town and do some of your miracles. You don’t get a name for yourself in Nazareth, in Pinchy. You go to Washington D.C. You go to New York City. You got London. You go to Jerusalem. How about it?”

Notice that verse 5 says that they did not believe. Either they had never seen the miracles themselves or they didn’t believe what the signs were pointing to. Either way, they did not believe. Not yet anyway. So they’re trying to push Him out into the world and take center stage. And Jesus says, “Not yet.” Look at verse 6.

“Therefore Jesus told them, ‘The right time for me has not yet come; for you any time is right. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil. You go to the Feast. I am not yet going up to this Feast, because for me the right time has not yet come.’ Having said this, he stayed in Galilee” (vv.6-9).

Notice that Jesus has perfect timing. He knows that there will be a time to go to Jerusalem. There will be a time to get in front of everyone. It just wasn’t that day. We’re going to see this idea of perfect timing, of Jesus’ time, Jesus’ hour not yet coming and then coming again and again in the Gospel of John.

What’s interesting is that soon after they all leave, Jesus does go to the Feast. Look at verse 10.

“However, after his brothers had left for the Feast, he went also, not publicly, but in secret. [Jesus is being strategic. He’s not going to make a miraculous splash. Though He is going to make a splash. V.11] Now at the Feast [There’s our sermon title.] the Jews were watching for him and asking, ‘Where is that man?’ Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, ‘He is a good man.’ Others replied, ‘No, he deceives the people.’ But no one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the Jews” (vv.10-13).

Jesus is there among them, quietly. Not like the Triumphal Entry. He’s not riding the donkey and with the palm branches being laid before Him. He’s got His hood up, and He’s just moving quietly through the crowd. I get the sense that He’s left His disciples behind. Or He’s asked a few of them come with Him quietly. 

He’s listening to the chatter. Everybody’s talking about Him. And they are divided. Is He good or a deceiver? And nobody is making big speeches in support Him because they are afraid of the authorities–the ones who are out for His blood. People are afraid of being canceled.

And, about halfway through the week, Jesus decides it’s now time to speak up. V.14

“Not until halfway through the Feast did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach. [I wonder what that was like? It was clearly amazing. And it threw the religious leaders into a tizzy. V.15] The Jews were amazed and asked, ‘How did this man get such learning without having studied?’ [He never followed another rabbi.] Jesus answered, ‘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. He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him. Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?’” (vv.14-19).

He doesn’t play around, does He? Neither do the Jews. They are locked in a conflict here. And there is no middle ground. They are like, “Where did you get this teaching?” And Jesus is like, “From God.”

Notice how many times He says, “not my own” and how many times He says, “from him who sent me.”

‘My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me. [That’s God the Father!] 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. He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.”

Remember Who Jesus is claiming to be? He’s claiming to be God’s Son. The monogenays. The Son of God and God the Son. He is claiming to be God but not God on His Own, but God from God. Very God of very God. Have you decided yet if that’s Who He really is?
 
Notice the promise in verse 17. “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.” 

“Whether or not I am who I claim to be.” If you want to know if Jesus is the real deal, commit yourself to doing God’s will no matter what it turns out to be. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Start there. If you truly commit yourself to following the evidence wherever it leads, you will see that Jesus is Who He said He is. 

These people were not doing that. Instead of being committed to the truth, they were trying to kill the Truth. “Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?’” (v.19).

They think He’s bonkers or worse. V.20

“‘You are demon-possessed,’ the crowd answered. ‘Who is trying to kill you?’ [Jesus say, “Oh, how soon we forget! V.21] Jesus said to them, ‘I did one miracle, and you are all astonished. [What was the miracle? It’s the one from chapter 5 that they are so obsessed with. He healed a man on the Sabbath. V.22] Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a child on the Sabbath. Now if a child can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing the whole man on the Sabbath? Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.’”

Do you see what He’s saying?

I’ve got three points of application this morning “at the feast,” and this is the first one.

#1. LOOK DEEPER.

Jesus says, “Stop judging by mere appearances, and make right judgment.” They were so focused on how bad it looked that He had healed a man “on the wrong day” that they didn’t think about what that actually meant.

Jesus says, “Yeah, it was a Sabbath. So what? You will circumcise a boy on the Sabbath if it falls on eighth day from when he was born, and that’s cutting something off of him. I gave someone complete healing on the Sabbath.”

Or as He said elsewhere, “The Sabbath was made humans, not humans made for the Sabbath. So maybe just maybe I am the Lord of the Sabbath?!” 

Look deeper. Commit to the fear of the Lord. Choose to do God’s will (v.17). Look deeper into the claims of Jesus, and you will be astonished by what you find.

I know that most of here are committed Christians. We’ve already made our big decision about this. Praise God! I hope this is just encouragement for you to keep on going in your faith. But others among us may have been drug here by someone else. A spouse. A parent. A boyfriend or girlfriend. Even a child. Or maybe you’re here because you want to be, but you’re not yet sure about Jesus. 

If that’s you, I’m so glad you’re here.  Look deeper. If you have questions, bring them. That’s why we’re here. And, it’s okay if you are not there yet. But I challenge you to not stop in your search. Look deeper. Look beyond just mere appearances. Because the reality is that things are often different from what they at first seem.

Now, it’s almost funny this stuff about whether or not they are trying to kill Him. Jesus knows that they want to kill Him. Some of them don’t know that they want to kill Him. But lots of other people do know that they want to kill Him. And they are confused why nobody is killing Him! Look at verse 25.

“At that point some of the people of Jerusalem began to ask, ‘Isn't this the man they are trying to kill? Here he is, speaking publicly, and they are not saying a word to him. Have the authorities really concluded that he is the Christ? 

But we know where this man is from; when the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from’” (vv.25-27). 

The crowd is just buzzing! “Hmm. Jesus is still alive. Does that mean the authorities think He is the Messiah? Can’t be.” These particular folks have gotten the idea that the Messiah is just going to burst on the scene, out of nowhere. And they think they know all about Jesus. He’s from Nazareth.

And when Jesus hears that, He gets loud. Look at verse 28.

“Then Jesus, still teaching in the temple courts [nobody’s touching Him], cried out [LOUD], ‘Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. I am not here on my own [there He goes again], but he who sent me is true. You do not know him, but I know him because I am from him and he sent me.’ At this they tried to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his time had not yet come” (vv.28-30).

Jesus is a broken record, isn’t He? He’s a little sarcastic. “Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from.” NOT! They don’t really know where He’s from. He’s from His Father. He is the Word of God. Right? This is living out the Prologue of John’s Gospel. This is John chapter 1 stuff:

“The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.... The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him” (Jn. 1:5-11 NIVO).

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn. 1:14 NIVO). 

And what is the Greek word for “made His dwelling?” in John 1:14? It’s the word we get the word “tabernacle” from! Jesus came to camp among us.

No wonder He makes everything about Himself. Everything is about Him! Even this festival. 

The Jews realize that He’s claiming once again to be God’s Son, sent by God, so they try to arrest Him. But they fail. Verse 30 says “no one laid a hand on him, because his time had not yet come.” It’s coming. His time is coming. But it is not yet here. So He escapes their grasp once more.

And some people listening come to faith. They look deeper and they see where the signs are pointing. V.31

“Still, many in the crowd put their faith in him. They said, ‘When the Christ comes, will he do more miraculous signs than this man?’”

“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (Jn. 1:12 NIVO).

Oh, and that burnt the jealousy of the Jewish leaders. Verse 32.

“The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering such things about him. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees sent temple guards to arrest him. [And when the get to Him, they are arrested by Him. He confronts them with these words. V.33] Jesus said, ‘I am with you for only a short time, and then I go to the one who sent me. You will look for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.’” (vv.32-34).

We know what He’s talking about. It’s obvious to us who know the rest of the story, but it was mysterious to them. V.35

“The Jews said to one another, ‘Where does this man intend to go that we cannot find him? Will he go where our people live scattered among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks? What did he mean when he said, 'You will look for me, but you will not find me,' and 'Where I am, you cannot come'?’” (vv.35-36).

They’re just scratching their heads. They think that Jesus is going to go abroad. They don’t realize that He’s saying He’s going to go to heaven. They don’t understand where He’s come from so they don’t understand where He’s going. So they walk away in a daze.

And the comes the last day of the feast. At first, He wasn’t going to go. The timing wasn’t right.
Then, He went quietly. And then the time was right to teach and to argue. And now it’s time to issue His invitation. It’s time for Jesus to get as loud as He ever gets.


Every day of the feast, a golden flagon (a huge pitcher) was filled with clear, pure water from the pool of Siloam and was carried in a procession led by the High Priest back to the temple.  

It was called “Simchat Beit Hashoavah,” “The Joy of Drawing Water.”

Listen to one scholar's description of this procession:

“As the procession approached the watergate on the south side of the inner court three blasts from the shofar–a trumpet connected with joyful occasions–were sounded. While the pilgrims watched, the priests processed around the altar with the flagon, the temple choir singing [in progression Psalms 113-118]. When the choir reached Psalm 118, every male pilgrim shook a lulav (willow and myrtle twigs tied with a palm) in his right hand, while his left raised a piece of citrus fruit (a sign of the ingathered harvest), and all cried, ‘Give thanks to the Lord!’  three times. The water was offered to God at the time of the morning sacrifice. ... These ceremonies of the Feast of Tabernacles were related in Jewish thought both to the Lord's provision of water in the desert and to the Lord's pouring out of the Spirit in the last days" (Carson, 322).

And I think on the last day, the priest went around the altar seven times and the crowd got loud and louder before they poured out the water! The cheering must have been deafening.

Water was incredibly important to the Jewish people and was never celebrated more than at this Feast.

And guess what Jesus is now going to do?

He’s going to make it all about Himself. 

Look at verse 37. “On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.’ By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified” (vv.37-39).

#2. COME TO JESUS.

He’s inviting you and me to come to Him. He’s SHOUTING out His invitation.

“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.”

It’s just like what He said to the woman at the well, isn’t it? But He’s not in Samaria now. He’s in Jerusalem. He’s on CNN and FoxNews and the BBC and Al-Jezeera. And He’s saying it loudly so that everyone can here. "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.”

You see how He’s making his Feast all about Him? That’s because it’s all about Him. Every eye in the temple has turned toward Him at this moment. Everything stops. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was at the moment when everybody was going ballistic about the water that He said. “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink!”  [He’s not scared, is He?]

And He doesn’t say, “Come to God and drink.” He says, “Come to ME and drink.” And verse 38 makes it clear that the drinking of Jesus as water is another metaphor for true faith. Just like eating the flesh and drinking the blood was in the last chapter.

It’s totally taking in Jesus. 
It’s finding your satisfaction in Christ.
It’s being fully engaged with Jesus. 

True faith treats Jesus like He’s the water we need to live. 

Because He is the water we need to live. He’s the only thing that will quench our spiritual thirst forever. If we believe in Him, then we get the Holy Spirit to life and flow inside of us. Look at verse 38 and 39 again. “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.’ By this he meant the Spirit...”

This is amazing. You and I have this water flowing in us right now if we have come to believe in Jesus. That Spirit is doing this right here, right now in this very room in the hearts of every true believer in Jesus. The Spirit had not yet been poured out at Pentecost. The Third Person of the Trinity will not come in all of that fullness until after the Cross and the Empty Tomb and the Ascension.

But we live on the other side of all of that! We have the Spirit living in and flowing in us in this exact way that Jesus is promising in verse 38. He has come and quenching our spiritual thirst and will do so forever and ever and ever. For those who believe in Jesus and come to Him.

Come to Jesus.

You have to decide for yourself. That’s the last third and last point today.

#3. DECIDE FOR YOURSELF.

Look deeper into who Jesus really is. Hear His invitation to believe in and drink Him up. And then decide for yourself. I can’t make that decision for you. Nobody can. Everybody has to come to that decision for themselves.

These folks listening to Jesus were divided. Some were impressed. Others were not. Look at verse 40.

“On hearing his words, some of the people said, ‘Surely this man is the Prophet.’ Others said, ‘He is the Christ.’ [I believe He’s both!] Still others asked, ‘How can the Christ come from Galilee?

Does not the Scripture say that the Christ will come from David's family and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?’ Thus the people were divided because of Jesus.”

Look deeper! It turns out if you look into it that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Was from David’s Royal family. But was also from Galilee. He’s both and all of that. And so much more. But you have to decide for yourself.

The people were divided because of Jesus. V.44

“Some wanted to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him. Finally the temple guards went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, ‘Why didn't you bring him in?’ 

‘No one ever spoke the way this man does,’ the guards declared. [We didn’t know what to do! He had more power in His words than you and yours.] 

‘You mean he has deceived you also?’ the Pharisees retorted. ‘Has any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him? No! But this mob that knows nothing of the law–there is a curse on them.’

[Hmm. Maybe some of the Pharisees have believed. Verse 50.] 

Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier [Nick at Night] and who was one of their own number, asked, ‘Does our law condemn anyone without first hearing him to find out what he is doing?’ They replied, ‘Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee” (vv.44-52).

Have you made up your mind yet about Who you think Jesus really is? You have to decide for yourself what you will make of Jesus. Nicodemus is beginning to speak up. He had come to Jesus at secretly at night. He started out in the dark. But it looks like he might be coming into the light. What about you?

Yes, Jesus has a way of making everything about Him.

But I believe that’s because everything is about Him. 


***

Messages in this Series

01. "That You May Believe" - John 20:30-31
02. "In The Beginning Was the Word" - John 1:1-18
03. "John's Testimony" - John 1:19-34
04. "Come and See" - John 1:35-51
05. "The First of His Miraculous Signs" - John 2:1-11
06. "This Temple" - John 2:12-25
07. "You Must Be Born Again" - John 3:1-15
08. "God So Loved The World" - John 3:16-21
09. "Above All" - John 3:22-36
10. "Living Water" - John 4:1-26
11. "Ripe for the Harvest" - John 4:27-42
12. "Your Son Will Live" - John 4:43-54
13. "Pick Up Your Mat and Walk" - John 5:1-18
14. "To Your Amazement" - John 5:19-30
15. "Testimony About Me" - John 5:31-47
Christmas Eve Bonus: "The Astonishing Gift" - John 3:16 Again
Christmas Eve Bonus: "We Have Seen His Glory" - John 1:1-18 Again
16. "Enough Bread" - John 6:1-15
17. "You Are Looking for Me" - John 6:16-36
18. "I Am the Bread of Life" - John 6:35-71
Vision Meeting Bonus: "As I Have Loved You" - John 13:34-35