As more people hear about and experience Jesus' ministry, His detractors become angrier and the disagreements about His mission get more heated. Today, with the benefit of perspective, what is our excuse for bowing to cultural norms or the pressure to avoid making others uncomfortable? In this passage Jesus shows us that we will always encounter opposition. Will we face that opposition or keep quiet, surrounded by people desperate to know where they can find living water?
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My Favorite Bible Story that's not in the Bible
The Division, the Defense, and the Duty: Breaking the Spiral of Silence
John 7: The Bible Collapses Here
The Decision that Leads to Division: Who is this Jesus?
The Sovereign and All-Satisfying Jesus: Will You Follow Him?
The Most Grumbled About, Argument-Inducing, Difficult, Disciple-Losing Message Jesus Ever Taught
What Must be True in Our Lives if We are Going to Say "Christ is Enough"
The Danger of Loving the Provision More Than the Provider
The Perfect Shepherd. For Green Pastures and Violent Waters.
I'm going to tell you the truth. I love sports. I love fleeting distractions, okay? I'm all fine if anybody else loves fleeting things. I love to eat. I love good food. I love getting together with friends, and I like when there are fine hors d'oeuvres, refreshing drink, and fine tasty seasoned meat. I'm a fan of both lunch, football, and other sports.
This is the truth. I was looking more forward to this morning than I am lunch or last night. Because as good as John 6 was, we turn the page, and John 7 is awesome. Turn to John 7. This is good stuff. I hope I can bless you as much as I have been blessed as I looked at it this week. Let's talk about Jesus.
Jesus is someone who I would almost follow if he wasn't God just because he's such a stud. He is not this little skippy rabbi who hopes folks like what he says, and then he gets to write a book and live comfortably. This is a man who came to die. He is a dividing line. Now look. Stay right there in John 7.
I'm going to read to you from Luke 12:49, because this gentle Jesus meek and mild, this babe born in a manger, this is what he said. Watch this. "I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled!" Now look. What's that sound like to you? That doesn't sound like [in a soft, monotone voice], "Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will roast you like a marshmallow over a hot fire."
Here's what I want to tell you. When Jesus came (you're going to see this again today), he was fully God and fully man. Sometimes he does things, and he says, "This is how the perfect man lives." Sometimes you know he only can do the things he does because he is God, fully God in the flesh.
When he's talking in Luke 12:49, and he says, "Man, I have to come to purify the earth. I wish the purification had already started, because I am sick of the abuse. I am sick of kids in homes they ought to be pulled out of. I am sick of rape. I am sick of philandering leaders. I am sick of dead religion. I wish the purification had already been done so we could get this thing back to what I created, which is Eden." That's what that means.
He hates sin and death. He hates darkness. Now, he also desires that none should perish but all would come to life. He takes no delight in the death of the wicked, but he's going to judge the wicked. Look at verse 50. "But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished!""Because it won't be fun. But I'm not just distressed because it won't be fun. I'm distressed because until this whole program of redemption is complete, people who I love, created in my image, are suffering."
Some of you are here this morning. Some of you are here suffering, because redemption is not complete. All of us are suffering in some way. You need to know something. God loves you. He hates cancer. He hates the unfaithfulness in your relationships. He hates your addiction. He hates your loneliness. He didn't design loneliness. He designed community.
He said, "Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division; for from now on five members in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter…" Yada, yada, yada, all the way through.
"I am going to draw a line in the sand, because I am going to come and reestablish truth. I'm going to bring light where there is darkness, and darkness doesn't like light. That's who I am." That's a perfect introduction to John 7. Let me catch you up on John 1 through 6. Are you ready? John 1 through 6.
John is announcing who it is he is writing about in chapter 1. "This is the Son of God. This is the Word, who has always been. He was with God, and he is God." John says, "This is the Word made flesh." John says, "This is the Lamb of God." John the Baptist comes on the scene, and he announces who he is. The Father announces who he is. The Spirit descends at his baptism. The earthly disciples make claim to this guy being something more. His divinity is announced in chapter 1.
Chapter 2. What do you do when you announce somebody's divinity? Well, how about just saying this: What he does is he shows his actions. He is a creator. That's exactly what divinity does. He creates when he turns water into wine, the very first miracle out of the chute, the first sign. Then, he walks into the temple, God's house, and he says, "This is my house." That's chapter 2.
Chapters 3 and 4, we run into three different people. You're going to see now his ability. You're going to find Nicodemus, a Jew who is spiritual. You're going to find the woman at the well, a Samaritan who is immoral. You're going to find the Roman centurion, a Gentile who is physically in need.
You're going to find that for Jews, half-breeds, and full non-Jews, he is sufficient. He is sufficient spiritually for Nicodemus' problem, morally for the woman at the well's problem, and he is sufficient physically for the Roman centurion's problem, who has a dying servant. This is an able King.
Chapter 5, you have agitation, because Jesus is going to go right after their little religious traditions. He's going to take that lame man who was lying there by the Pool of Bethesda. He's going to say, "Look. I'm going to heal him. I'm going to do it on the Sabbath, because I'm going to start to take on your dead religion and your traditions."
Chapter 6, you have analogy, and you have argument. He says, "I am the Bread of Life," and people start to go, "Who is this? What does he mean he's the Bread that came down from heaven?" Then, chapter 7, is when you start to get to right down antagonism. What he said he came to do…which is divide…by chapter 7, he has accomplished it in full.
Let's check it out. Here we go. We're going to cover a lot of ground today. John 7:1: "After these things Jesus was walking in Galilee, for He was unwilling to walk in Judea because the Jews were seeking to kill Him." He had accomplished his goal. If his goal was to stir it up and divide, there was a group of folks who said, "We have to get rid of this guy."
You're going to find out the reason Jesus hung out up north around those little fishing villages around the Sea of Galilee is because the powers that be, the religious leaders down there in Judea, were saying, "We have to get rid of this rabble-rouser. We have to get rid of this guy who is taking some shots at us, who is chinking our armor, who is calling to attention the potential hypocrisy of our system." Watch what happens.
You're going to find out that in his family, in his city, in the synagogue, and all across the nation, there is division. There is divide. There is rejection. There is antagonism toward him. Verse 2. It says, "Now the feast of the Jews, the Feast of Booths, was near." I'm going to tell you real quick about this. This is important because it's going to play into where we're going to end today.
When you read your Bible, there are three major festivals the Jews would, if you were a righteous Jew, always go to Jerusalem every year to celebrate. They were really synced up with the harvest cycle. Passover was synced up with the barley harvest. Pentecost was synced up with the wheat harvest.
The Feast of Booths or Tabernacles or Ingathering are all the same thing. Sukkoth is what the Jews would call it. All of those are wrapped up in the wine, in the grape, harvest. It was the last and full harvest of the year. There's about a six-month difference between Passover and the Feast of Booths or Feast of Tabernacles.
What would happen is they would celebrate at this thing… The reason it was called the Feast of Booths or Tabernacles is because they would all go, and when they would go there, they wouldn't stay in friends' houses at this particular time. They would go and get willow branches and other pieces of wood, they would get palm leaves, and they would build lean-tos.
They would make little tents that for seven days as they brought the harvest of the grapes in, as there was joy and merriment, as they reminded themselves, now that they live in this land filled with milk and honey and great provision, that there was a time when God brought them out of slavery through the desert and the lean years where they lived in tents. "Now look at the glory of where God has brought us. What a great way to remind ourselves of how awesome God is by going back to where we came from."
It would be like if this morning we all went and crammed ourselves into some chemistry lab over there at Lake Highlands High School or some hotel somewhere or some houses and office buildings or some of the other 20-odd places we met for the first eight years we existed as a body. If we just said, "Remember when this is what we did? How great that God has brought us to this place now that we can use effectively for him, but let's remind ourselves who brought us here."
What they would do…specifically at the Feast of Booths or Tabernacles when they would live, millions of Jews, all there camping out all over Jerusalem…is the priests would, every morning, leave the temple. There would be two contingencies of the priests. One group of them would walk out, they'd go down to the Kidron Valley, and they would gather sticks. They would gather wood and palm leaves.
Another one would come out, and they'd go right down south through the City of David to the Pool of Siloam. They would gather, in golden pitchers, a bunch of water. Then they would come back. They would time it so they would both get back together. They would cover the altar with these twigs and these sheaves of palm branches, and then they would pour the water on the altar over that as a reminder: "Look what God has gone, this great God whom we serve and honor. He has given us a home, and he has given us life. He has sent us forth to be a life to the world."
What would happen is that water would come rushing out through the temple off the altar, down the temple steps, off the temple mount, down to the Kidron Valley. It was a picture of God blessing the world through the Jews. It was always his plan that the nations would be blessed through the God who always was and always will be, who has chosen to reveal himself through the Jews whom he has put in a place of prosperity.
The Jews were always to say, "Look. We're not smarter than you or better than you. You come and get to know our God, because he is not the God of the Jews. He is the God of all the world." The plan initially was for God to bless the world through the descendants of Abraham, not just Abraham's descendants.
This is the Feast of Booths. Jesus' brothers are right there. In verse 3, it says, "Therefore His brothers…" We do know Jesus had brothers, right? There were four of them that we know of. There is Joseph. There is Judas (Jude). There is Simon, and there is James. Some people can tell me Mary was a perpetual virgin. If you want to believe that in your little dogma, go ahead. You're just wrong. The Bible does not say Mary was a perpetual virgin, in the same way it doesn't say the pope whom they found their church on was always to be single.
One of the first miracles of Christ was to heal Peter's mother-in-law, which suggests there was a marriage there. It says in Matthew 1:25 that Joseph, after Mary was pregnant with this child, did not have relations with her because he was told not to until the Son was born. Then, after that, he made up for lost time. He had four other boys and several daughters.
At this time, though, you're going to find out none of them knew who Jesus was. We're about to see that right here. James, we know later, came to know Christ. Jude, one of his brothers, wrote the book of Jude, most people believe. His family eventually came around, but in John 7 there's divide right here in the family.
They grew up with this Jesus. How would you like that? To have God as a brother. He's never grounded from his donkey like you are. He's always doing the right thing. Never getting in trouble. They would watch him do these amazing things. You think it's tough when you have a brother who is a great athlete? How about when you have a brother who is healing the lame?
At the wedding when mom is stressed out, she goes to him, and he turns water into wine. "There he goes again. You could send us down to the liquor store, and we could bring back a few bottles. Or you could go get Jesus, and he could just fix it." These guys were well-aware of his miracles.
Here's what they're going to say: "Look, dude. We've seen what you can do. We're your brothers. So, if you're the coming Messiah and King, that's going to work out well for us. Why don't you go make a show of yourself? It is that time of year, you know, when everyone shows up down there in Jerusalem. That's where the Messiah is going to make his imprint. Why don't you go and do your show and get it on?" Watch this. Let's read it.
"Leave here and go into Judea, so that Your disciples also may see Your works [you do] …""And why are you running around fishing villages up here in Galilee? Go down there and get it done." "For no one does anything in secret when he himself seeks to be known publicly." You're going to find a theme through John 7, and it starts to be introduced right there. Here are the ways of the world.
The ways of the world are to do things publicly to get the acclaim of men, but what you're going to find out is Jesus… Just like in Luke 12:49, he tells you the perspective of a man. Just like me. I go, "God, come on. Come quickly, Lord Jesus. Hasten the day when you fix this thing." I don't always look with the eyes of a loving Father. There are still some prodigals he's trying to get on the ark before the flood of judgment comes.
Jesus felt the same thing Todd Wagner does when he sees abandonment, abuse, infidelity. He goes, "God, I want to get rid of this sin in this world, but I know in your perfect time, you'll do it. When the days of grace are over, you'll close the door, and then we'll commence the flood. For now, we're going to wait." What you see is Jesus, in Luke 12, expressing this, "Ah! Let's get it on."
What you see here in John 7, is Jesus is feeling something else the perfect man should feel: hatred toward sin, love for God, and a desire to do nothing but honor God and not draw attention to himself. "For no one does anything in secret when he himself seeks to be known publicly." There's the gig. One of the things you're going to find in this chapter (and it's amazing) is Jesus, as the perfect man, is going to show you the way you live perfectly as man is not to exalt yourself.
My kids. I'm trying to teach them humility. The best definition of humility is you don't think less of yourself. A lot of us think what we're supposed to do when folks give us a complement is go, "Nah. That ain't true." That's not humility. Sometimes that's begging people to come at you three or four more times with evidence why they think you're a great guy. That's a poor way to induce complements. Humility is not thinking less of yourself. Humility is thinking of yourself less.
I'm trying to teach my kids that. One of the things we did this week… I bet you four different times I said, "There are two kinds of people in the world. Folks who walk in the room and go, 'Here I am! In my insecurity, acknowledge me, notice me, love me.' Or 'Here I am, and aren't you lucky I graced your party or your little clique, that I'm going to be a part of your posse? Your posse is going to be more well-known because I'm a part of it. Here I am, baby!' Or 'Here I am. Are you going to love me?'"
Folks leave Watermark all the time saying, "Well, I got there, and no one really loved me the way I wanted them to love me." Look. Maybe we don't, and it's on us. But when you come into this place, do you come in with, "Here I am. What are you going to do for me?" or do you come in with, "There you are. There you are. How are you doing? How's your week been? How can I serve you? What's going on in your life?"?
You see, the brothers, you're going to find out, were deeply entrenched in the system of the world. So was everyone. This is why Jesus was such a dividing line, because he didn't come to make himself known. His brothers are saying, "Hey, look, man. If you have all that, go make yourself known." "If You do these things, show Yourself to the world." It says in verse 5 that not even his brothers understood who he was, what his program was, why he was coming as a lamb before he revealed himself as a lion.
"So Jesus said to them, 'My time is not yet here…'" The same thing he said to his mom in John 2: "Hey, woman. It's not my hour yet." He said, "…but your time is always opportune." " You go do what you're supposed to do. You can just march on down there, and you go worship with everybody else." Now watch why he says this. "The world is not going to hate you if you go down there. You're just like the world, but it hates me because I testify of its deeds. My time has not yet fully come. My time is coming in six months, but I can't go down there."
Why? "Because when I go down there, I speak out against the immorality, the broken religious system, and the false shepherds we have. But not you boys. You boys are real ecumenical. You get along with everybody. You'll just float right down there in Jerusalem, and you'll jump right into the normal traditional religious systems of man.
Everybody likes those systems because it glories them and makes them feel good about themselves. They're just wrong, but I haven't heard any of you boys speaking up about that, so you can be very welcome down there in Judea. Not me. I'm not going down there like you, just floating through, because I don't float through air."
Let me say this. If you floated through this last week and nobody stopped and said to you, "You know what, man? Listen. You offend me, because you seem to believe there's truth that I'm accountable to, and that truth is rooted in the Scriptures." Now, hopefully you did it in a gentle and loving way, but I want to say this.
If you're one of those people the world always embraces, no one ever has a problem with you, and you're Mister Get-Along-With-Everybody, there's a problem there. Truth divides. Now, look. I don't go around picking fights, but there are times when I choose not to do things others would do. They go, "Oh, Wagner! Dadgum it."
I can remember in college, I wouldn't say a word to anybody, but people did not like me sometimes because I wouldn't do what they would do or participate in what they were participating in. They felt judged by that, even if I didn't say a word. I can tell you there are times when folks just want to say, "Can't we just all get along? Can't we be Mister Ecumenical?"
I'm going to go, "Well, if it were up to us, that certainly is what we would do to curry favor with man, but it's not up to us. We are servants. We are stewards of the mystery of God. There are times we must say truth, and truth divides, so I can't do what's politically correct because I serve an authority higher than me."
This is where a lot of people go, "Ah, you know. I don't like that. I'm not going to stir it up." To you, Jesus says, "Well, you keep going through your little dead religious services. You keep going floating along and saying, 'Yeah. It's good for me. It's fine if we believe that here, but let's not be too hard on folks who are more universalist or folks who are in a different culture. They're just expressing in their culture their love for God. We're expecting…'" No, we're not. This has nothing to do with American culture. This is not an American faith.
When I would sometimes go to Africa, and they would say stuff to me like, "Todd, listen. You can do that in America. That's not our culture here," talking about the way they treat women. I go, "Let me tell you about the way we treat women in America. I'm not here to tell you how to treat women like Americans. I don't bring you American culture. I bring you Christian culture. American culture needs to be submissive to Christian culture. African culture needs to be submissive to Christian culture. Are you Africans, or are you followers of Jesus?"
Are you followers of Jesus, or do you do things the way North Dallas does it, and everybody gets along splendidly with you? I had a gal come up to me one time. She says, "I want you to know. You are one of my favorite pastors, you and Joel Osteen. You guys are my two favorites." I said, "What?! What? Are you listening? You're either not tuning into him very often, or you're not tuning into me." I have to tell you. There is a difference there in the way we communicate about truth.
I don't just get along with everybody. I'm not looking to cause fights, but I will raise my hand and go, "You know, I don't believe that's so. As much as God wants everybody to be happy, I need you to know something. God is ready and pregnant with the desire to have judgment come into this world, and you can't possibility your think into righteousness. You need a Savior, and there is one way. The road is narrow, not wide and pleasing." Those aren't my ideas. I am a servant of Christ, if I am being faithful.
When Jesus says, "Hey, look. You guys get along great with everybody. You guys go to Jerusalem. There's no problem with you down there," it's what Paul said in 2 Corinthians, chapter 11, when he was talking to the Corinthian church. He said, "But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ." He said it's clear and it's simple, and there aren't a lot of different ways to go. Watch this.
He says in verse 4, "For if one comes and preaches [another gospel] another Jesus…" One whom we can all like and get along with, "You receive that splendidly. This other spirit? This different gospel which you have accepted?" "…you bear this beautifully." That is not a compliment. Paul says, "No, you have to raise your hand and go, 'Look. I have to love you enough to say I don't believe that's consistent with what the Scriptures say. Let me tell you why I think the Scriptures are not just the best ideas of men but revelation from God,'" and you engage in that conversation.
When folks make statements about, "What does it matter what folks do in their bedroom? What does it matter how we define marriage?" if you can't speak truth because you just want to get along, then you are more like the brothers of Jesus than Jesus. That is a problem in John 7. By the grace of God, for James and Jude, we know they eventually came around to understand who this brother of theirs was. But right now they thought like everybody else, and so the world loved them. The world did not like their brother. Watch this.
"So Jesus said to them, 'My time is not yet here, but your time is always opportune. The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil [the way it does things is wrong] . Go up to the feast yourselves; I do not go up to this feast because My time has not yet fully come.'" So, he stayed in Galilee for a while, but he was going to go. He didn't lie to his brothers. He said, "I'm just not going to go with you the way you're going to go, and the way you want me to go."
Verse 10: "But when His brothers had gone up to the feast, then He Himself also went up, not publicly…" The way men go up. The way men love to be seen. "…but as if, in secret." By the way, how do men love to do things? Men love to do things like the Pharisees in Luke 18. They love to ring bells before they give their gifts.
There's a reason, gang, we give the way we do at Watermark, that we don't pass a basket here. It's not that it's wrong to do that other places, but we want you to be able to give in a way your left hand doesn't know what your right hand is doing. We don't want you to sound the trumpet and watch people reach for your wallet, write your check, and drop it in there.
We don't want you to feel pressure to give out of obligation. We want you to give because you love the kingdom of God, you see his name being glorified, and you want to invest here. We let you do that in subtle ways. Some people do it electronically. Some people do it quietly as they walk in or they walk out, and they find the slots in back. Some people mail some things in.
That's not the way the Pharisees loved to do it. They loved the trumpet and praying out loud where all could see them. Jesus, in Matthew 6, says, "Don't be like that. Don't give like that. Don't pray like that. Don't be showy. You be humble. You be like the tax collector who can't even raise his head and quietly prays. He doesn't talk about how good he is. He talks about how needy he is."
Jesus goes up there quietly. It says, "So the Jews were seeking Him at the feast and were saying, 'Where is He?'""Where is this Jesus? Is he going to come?" "There was much grumbling among the crowds concerning Him…" Let me say this. Wherever God is at work and God's people are active, there's always grumbling.
"…some were saying, 'He is a good man'; others were saying, 'No, on the contrary, He leads the people astray.'" Look. There's always division if you take Jesus for who he says he is. He is not just somebody you can get along with. You have to decide: He is the good one from God. Or no, he leads people astray.
Let me say it to you this way. If you're looking to hire somebody to work in your company, to be a nanny for your kids, to be a roommate in college, and everything checks out… Or let's say you go on eharmony, and you're looking for a date. This is a wonderful guy, a wonderful girl. You get through everything, and everything syncs up.
At the very end it says, "But I do believe I am God. I am the Bread which comes down from heaven. I speak very truth. No one can know the Father except through me. I am divine. I always was. I wasn't created. I am the visible image of the invisible God." You're not going to go, "Oh, well. All right. It sure looks like he plays well with children. Why not still let him be with our kids?" You're going to go, "No, this is messiah complex."
You're either going to fire him on the spot, or you're going to say, "Dude, I don't need to hire you. I need to follow you." You're not going to have some neutral get-along-with… Jesus never wanted to be somebody you would just get along with. He never wanted to be a good teacher. He never wanted to be on one of the long lists of prophets who gave you some ideas God might want you to consider. He said he and the Father are one, to love him is to love God, to not love him is to not love God, to see him is to see God. It does create a bit of a deciding point.
It goes on to say in this little section right here that the folks were not speaking openly about him because they were more concerned about not being rejected by the establishment or not being socially stigmatized, because that was already going to happen with folks who said they were going to follow him.
Verse 14: "But when it was now the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple…" I love this. He wasn't going to wow them with wonders. This is what Jesus did. He did. He goes right up in the middle of the temple, and he does what rabbis typically do at times like this when folks gather. He "…began to teach." Look how many times Jesus taught. He just stepped into his world. He didn't call a lot of attention to himself, but he always called attention to truth.
He didn't make a big parade and pompous entrance into Jerusalem because he knew it wasn't yet the Father's time for him to come to the climax of his conflict with the Jewish leaders, but he was also not going to let the error that was being propagated by the Jewish system stand. So, he grabs himself a rock, gets up on it, and he begins to teach.
Gang, I want to say this. If you're a follower of Jesus, you are called to do the same thing around your water coolers, in your carpools, in your classrooms, in your conversations with friends in the neighborhood. When stuff comes up about the value and dignity of life, about the sanctity of marriage, about the importance of liberty, about the role of government, about the necessity of Jesus as a way to be reconciled to God, you have to teach.
Second Timothy chapter 4. I've mentioned that right here on this little area where I stand, I have written underneath me that little bit of Scripture: "I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction." You have to teach.
The time is going to come when people aren't going to want teachers. "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled [by people who will tell them what they want to hear] , they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship [when you speak truth] , do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry." In other words, be like Jesus. This was not going to go well for him in John 7, but he began to teach. It's what you should do.
Let me say this. If you don't know how to handle the question of why marriage is defined as between one man and one woman or why it matters what people do in their bedroom or why you should care about the sanctity of life in the womb and near the grave, if you don't understand these things and how to, in a winsome and loving way, engage people, then take that little perforated section in your Watermark News and write down there, "I need help. I don't know how to teach. I don't know how to make a case in the public square that these things matter."
We'll meet with you. We'll talk with you. We'll train you. We'll remind you. We'll give you resources so you can be ready. When you're in false systems and people have given themselves over to myths that destroy cultures and destroy lives, you can be the voice of reason. Now, I'm going to tell you what's going to happen when you do that. There's going to be a divide. Truth always divides.
Some of you guys go, "Well, I just want to get along with everybody at the party." Well then, you don't know your Master if you say your Master is Jesus. He doesn't want you to get along with everybody at the party. He wants everybody to get along with God. That's the one who matters. All right. We have to move. Watch this.
You get to this moment. The Jews, when they heard him teach, go, "Where is this guy from? He's so learned. He hasn't been through our systems. You have to come through our systems to get to this place." Verse 16: "So Jesus answered them and said, 'My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me.'""I'm not going to impress you by my school. I'm not going to impress you by my training. I'm going to impress you with truth. You recognize what I'm saying is true, but it's not my truth."
What Jesus is going to do is what a godly man always does. He's going to model what a perfect man always does. He said, "Look. This is not just my idea. If the way I say it offends you, I will apologize all day long, but if what I say offends you, I want to be a faithful lover of God." "Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy." This is the truth. Now watch.
He's going to tell them now why they don't like what he's saying. Watch this. Verse 17 is an interesting verse. He said, "If anyone is willing to do His will…" Meaning God's. "…he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself." In other words, Jesus is going to say, "The way I know you're going to accept what I say is going to be as to whether or not you want to know what God has to say. The reason you don't like me is you don't like God." That's the reason.
What he's going to go through here and say is, "My ways aren't your ways. I'm not going to do the way men do. Men create truth that exalts them, that fits into their system. They take the heights of Sinai and the holiness of God, and they drag it down into traditions they can attain to and, through showy observances, look religious."
Jesus is saying, "No, no, no. I don't want you to look religious. I don't want you to tithe on mint and cumin and neglect justice and mercy and forgiveness. I don't want you to cross yourself at the plate. I don't want you to go and eat certain food certain times of the week and think you're holy. I don't want you to fast during sunlight hours and call yourself holy. I want you to learn to love and give and do justice and walk humbly, as a yielded vessel of my Spirit, not just doing showy religious things."
Men love those things. They love to broaden their phylacteries, which were leather components with the law, or lengthen their tassels or do showy religion. Jesus says, "God doesn't like showy religion. He wants men whose hearts are his. You guys love appearances. You know why you don't love me? It's because I'm telling you your appearances aren't good enough.
You can go through your little beads 50 times. You can show up and eat your little means of grace seven days a week, you can go to Watermark and give, but if you are not a person whose heart is surrendered and submissive to him, who seeks his face and follows him, I don't know you. I'm not looking for religious people. I'm looking for folks who understand that no amount of man's efforts could ever please a holy God."
This is the entire Sermon on the Mount. This is why he said, "This is what makes a man righteous: Unless your righteousness is more righteous than the showy Pharisees, you won't enter the kingdom of God." People were like, "What in the world?" The Pharisees especially were like, "Wait a minute. That's our entire system. That's how we control people. That's how we look holy ourselves. What do you mean this isn't enough?"
Jesus said, "Pay attention. Moses said you shouldn't murder, and good for you that you haven't murdered, but I tell you when you look at each other with enmity in your hearts, that's murder. Moses said you shouldn't commit adultery. Good for you that maybe you're not sleeping around, but if you look at that woman with lust in your heart, you've committed adultery." On and on he went.
He goes, "None of you have met this standard. You need a Messiah. The law was a mirror that was to show you, 'I don't look like that,' so you would cry out for mercy. Obey the law in every way you can. The law is good, but you guys aren't obeying the law." He's going to show you that in just a moment. Watch this.
He said, "If anyone is willing to do His will…" By the way, this is an amazing thing. Someone has well said, "Human knowledge must be known to be loved, but divine knowledge must be loved to be known." I'm going to say it to you another way. What's going on here is he said, "The reason you don't get what I'm saying is you don't want to get it."
I was talking to a guy this week whose life has spiraled. I was sharing with him Scripture. This is a guy who has taught God's Word, and I was sharing. He goes, "Ah, Todd. You're just a type-A person. You always think we need to do things the way it says." I go, "What?" This guy said, "Look. That's just not the way…" He is from a different culture.
"That's not the way… You don't understand this culture." I go, "What? What does this have to do with my personality and our cultures?" This guy, whose life now became wrapped in deceit and manipulation, when it was found out and we were loving him and talking to him, all of a sudden, Jesus didn't make as much sense to him.
In the same way that a guy who is not being faithful to his wife, he'll start to look and go, "Well, look. I mean, I know it says that, but it says if a woman does that, then I don't have to do this." I'm like, "I don't think you're reading it carefully. I think you have a morality in you that wants to go a different direction, so your mind is going to interrupt that in a way that makes it easy for your morality to continue to go."
I would share with my roommate in college, and we would talk about Jesus. At the end of the day, he'd look at me. He goes, "I ain't doing it. I just don't buy it. Even if I did, I'm not going there." The reason he wasn't is because he loved to sleep with his girl. He knew Jesus was going to say, "Don't do that."
He said, "I reject Jesus as potentially being who he says he is, because I know he says I shouldn't sleep with women. I love women, and I'm going to keep sleeping with women. So, I reject what you have to say about him." His problem was not intellectual. His problem was a function of his will, not a function of his mind. I want to let you know. That is the problem with most people.
Christopher Hitchens, who wrote God Is Not Great… I've been in a room with him and William Lane Craig during discussions where they were supposed to debate whether or not there was an intellectual basis for God, whether or not the Christian story was congruent and made sense, whether it could explain the evil in this world.
All throughout the discussion, Christopher Hitchens was winsome, hilarious. He threw out one reason after another why he had a problem with God not really being as sovereign and as involved as he thinks he should be. Every time, William Lane Craig responded in a way that was consistent and congruent with the evil that was in this world and a God who was loving and just.
He gave 10 other arguments, from the cosmological to the ontological to the… I'll just go right through them all. At the very end of it, Hitchens said, "I acknowledge that the only system that makes sense of the world as we know it is the Christian system, but because I reject the Christian system as true, I am forced to believe there is no God."
Craig looked at him and said, "This is supposed to be discussion and debate. I've given you 10 reasons why the argument for God is rational and intellectually informed, and you have given no response to any of them. You've been funny, entertaining, and kind, but I would ask you when we meet next week in England to discuss this again that you would at least do some work so we can have a rational adult conversation, because this has been, basically, a waste of time. Your problem is not a function of intellect. It is a function of your will, Christopher. Just acknowledge that and quit being pompous in your writing and in your authoring."
You know what Hitchens said in response to that? Nothing. Because he couldn't. It is a problem of morality much more than it is of mind with most people. Look. If folks give out good questions… I do this all the time when people start firing questions at me. I'll say, "Hey, wait a minute. If I answer that, are you willing to get on your face, repent of your sins, acknowledge God is holy, and follow him with all of your heart?"
"Well, because I have this question."
"Great. If I answer that question, are you willing to confess your sins, open up your Bible, be a student of it, and yield to the Spirit of God whom you invite into your…?"
"Why not?" I go, "Look. If we do this all day long, let's be honest. We're not really in an intellectual pursuit here. You're just looking for some reason to not really follow Jesus."
We should absolutely respond to man's intellectual integrity, but I'm not going to pander to their arrogance and waste my time in endless arguments and discussions. Paul would recommend the same for you. That's what's going on right here with the Pharisees. "We love our systems." Jesus is going to point that out. Look at verse 18. Here's one system they love.
"He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true…""You guys aren't seeking the glory of God. You're seeking your own glory through your own systems." "…and there is no unrighteousness in [the one who seeks the glory of the Father] ." Jesus said, "This ain't about me. I'm telling you, not my teaching but God's teaching."
"Did not Moses give you the Law, and yet none of you carries out the Law? Why do you seek to kill Me?""See also my Sermon on the Mount and my comment, 'Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees.' You guys don't keep the law. You guys all know your system is imperfect, and you're not perfect men. Why are you killing me?" Watch this. "The crowd answered, 'You have a demon! Who seeks to kill You?'""These are our religious leaders. They're not trying to kill you."
Verse 21: "Jesus answered them, 'I did one deed, and you all marvel.'""I took one guy on the Sabbath day and healed him, and you went, 'What in the world is he doing violating the Sabbath law?'" He said, "For this reason Moses has given you circumcision (not because it is from Moses, but from the fathers)…" Moses just told you what God had told Abraham. "…and on the Sabbath you circumcise a man."
In other words, "If you have a kid born on a Friday, eight days later (which is when you're supposed to fulfill your law), you circumcise your son so he can be a righteous Jew to fulfill your systems. You will circumcise a boy on the Sabbath so he can look physically like a holy Jew. Well, I healed an entire man's body! Why are you killing me? You'll do what you need to do on the Sabbath to help a young boy look religious. Cutting some foreskin off doesn't make a man loved by God.
God is a God of love and grace and mercy. You'll cut some kid's foreskin off. That's a violation of working on the Sabbath. I healed an entire man! Why are you mad at me? Here's why. Because you don't love Moses. You know why you don't love Moses? Because you don't love God. You know why I know you don't love God? Because you don't love me." That's Jesus. Now look. Can you imagine a little bit of a conflict that would come up in the midst of this? Watch what happens here.
Verse 24. He says, "Do not judge according to appearance…" Think. Listen. What do you think God wants? "…but judge with righteous judgment." Some of the people of Jerusalem now were starting to say, "Is this not the man who they're seeking to kill? Why aren't they killing him?" Verse 26, "Look, He is speaking publicly, and they are saying nothing to Him. The rulers do not really know that this is the Christ, do they?"
"Maybe they're not killing him because they're thinking, 'Well, this guy is starting to make a little sense.'" "However, we know where this man is from; but whenever the Christ may come, no one knows where He is from.""He can't be the Christ, because Christ is supposed to show up suddenly. He's not from Nazareth. This guy is from Nazareth. This is Joseph and Mary's son." This is John 6 all over again. Now watch this. Watch this.
What he says in the midst of this is… Jesus is responding, almost kind of mocking. "You both know Me and know where I am from…""Really? You know where this guy, who walks on water, who heals lepers, who feeds multitudes…? You really think I'm from Nazareth? I know I grew up there. You guys don't know me, but He who sent Me is true. You don't know him, which is why you don't know me."
"I know Him, because I am from Him, and He sent Me." This is causing quite the little stir. "So they were seeking to seize Him; and no man laid his hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come." John wants you to know God is sovereign over all this. Jesus went in, and he started to teach. Conflict is coming up, but he said, "You're not going to take me yet. My time is in six months, at the Passover."
"But many of the crowd believed in Him; and they were saying, 'When the Christ comes, He will not perform more signs than those which this man has, will He?'""The blind are seeing. The lame are walking. The oppressed are being set free. This is happening. The Messiah was never going to do more than this guy. This guy is fulfilling everything our Messiah would do."
"The Pharisees heard the crowd muttering these things about Him, and the chief priests and the Pharisees sent officers to seize Him." There were always Romans watching the Jews, because they were an excitable lot. They went, got the Romans, and said, "Look. This guy right here? He's kind of outside our system. The people are getting stirred up. You might want to arrest him."
"Therefore Jesus said, 'For a little while longer I am with you [six more months] , then I go to Him who sent Me. You will seek Me, and will not find Me; and where I am, you cannot come.'" Now look. Just like every other time when Jesus is teaching, he's talking kind of cryptically. He is talking about what's really going to happen. He's going to say here, "Look. I'm going to go. I'm going to be crucified and buried. I'm going to be resurrected, and I'm going to go to heaven. You can't come there, because you're not righteous. So, you won't go where I'm going to go."
On another hand, watch what they start to say. They listen to him, and they don't get it. "The Jews then said to one another, 'Where does this man intend to go that we will not find Him? He is not intending to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks, is He?'""Because we're righteous Jews, we'd never go to the land of the Gentiles. We hate walking through Samaria so much we go around it. If he goes out there where the non-Jewish land is, we're not going to go there. So, is this guy going to now go and preach to the Gentiles?"
By the way, what's the answer to that question? Yes. How ironic that they said, "Where's he going to go? Take his truth somewhere else that we can't go where he goes?" Yes. There is a hardening of the Jews. They reject their Messiah, so guess what Jesus does? He says, "Okay. I'll take it to the Gentiles. I'll take it to the church. This nation rejects me. There'll be a new kingdom, a new nation made up of Jew and Greek. I will give to them what you have rejected."
Now watch what he does one more time. This is amazing. We can't appreciate this because we're not Jewish. "What is this statement that He said, 'You will seek Me, and will not find Me; and where I am, you cannot come'?" They don't know. They don't get who he is. Verse 37: "Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out…" Now watch.
What did I tell you happened at this feast? On the last day they would get double portions of water, and they would dump all kinds of water. "It's the last day. Look at the abundance of God's provision. We're going home, vats filled with grapes and wine." There is water. Jesus might have been standing ankle deep in waters from the Pool of Siloam. Jesus says this. It is an amazing statement.
In the middle of them saying, "God has brought forth life for us," Jesus says, "Look. You want life?" "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.""I am your Pool of Siloam." That means, "I am the pool that is sent. I am the one sent forth from heaven. Nation, listen. You're thirsty, and your dead religion is not going to work. Drink of me, and your thirst will…"
To say this at this moment is so incredibly blasphemous and courageous and bold. It would be like if we sat here and said, "Wouldn't it be great if we heard from God?" and somebody shouted out and said, "You're gonna. People, listen to me." We'd go, "What? That's just a little rhetorical question we say every year." It's like at the end of the Passover, the Jews go, "Next year in Jerusalem, maybe the Messiah will come." When Jesus is at the Passover seder, "Next year in Jerusalem," he goes, "Right now in Jerusalem. I'm here."
Let me close with this little deal right here. Verse 38, he says, "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'" Jesus says, "Not only will your thirst be quenched, but I'm going to do a work in you that is so spectacular…" I'm going to teach on this some more next week for you. Watch this.
He said, "You're going to have your thirst quenched, and I'm going to put the well inside of you." He says it this way, "But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive…" When he accomplished his work. This Joel 2. This is Ezekiel 36. This is the fulfillment of everything you had longed for, that their sons and daughters would prophecy. When you believe in Jesus, you're reconciled to God. When you're reconciled to God, you're reconciled to his Spirit. When you're reconciled to his Spirit, out of you will flow living water to a thirsty and barren world.
Church, here's the gig. This last week, were you thirsty? I'm going to suggest if you're thirsty and looking for life, it's because you don't know Jesus. Second thing. This last week, church, when you went out, were people around you going, "Hey, man, can I tell you something? When you speak, it encourages me. It makes sense. It harkens to me the way things should be. The way you love our family, the way you give, the way you invite us from our broken world into your whole home, it has healed us. It's like you're a fountain of living waters."
What we should say, church of Jesus Christ, is not, "Hey, look. You're lucky to have me as a neighbor." What you should say is, "Hey, can I tell you something? I know exactly what you're describing, because that was me. I was distraught. I was broken. I was thirsty. I was destroying my relationship with my kids. I was trying to find life in business and these other things.
I have to tell you. I met Jesus. What's flowing out of me is what Jesus says will flow out of people who know him. It's the Spirit of Christ. If you're attracted to anything good in me, it's Jesus. Let me tell you about him. You're not lucky to have me as a neighbor. I am blessed to have Jesus as a Savior, and I would love for you to know him. Come and see."
Do you understand this, church, what he's saying? What flowed out of you this week? Vile filth? Course jesting? Perversion? Love for fleeting things? Or words of life? You see, church, the world is going to know Jesus is who he says he was because we're going to be a well of what he said we would be. If we're not, then maybe the problem isn't with Jesus. Maybe it's with us.
Father, I thank you for my friends. I pray they would go out today, and they would follow you. They would decide not just to have some religious righteousness, but they would have a full understanding of who you are and what you have done. As a result of that, as they abide with you, living water would flow in them and through them in such a way that the rest of the world would go, "You people are refreshing. Who are you?"
We would say, "We're the people of God called by his name. We want to tell you the source of it. It's not Watermark. It's not my own goodness. It's Jesus Christ. We want you to know him. I'll tell you where the rest of us are fellowshipping and responding to him."
I pray, Lord, for my friends, that this week they would either come to the one who can quench their thirst, or they would go, drinking deeply from that well of righteousness which can be found only in Christ and, out of the overflow of their relationship with you, be a source of life and light to others. For the glory of Jesus, I pray, amen.
Have a great week of worship. We'll see you.
Who was Jesus Christ? A mythical man created to give a false sense of comfort after we die? Some sort of character that enables us to justify our own choices while simultaneously giving us the power to judge others? Or was He something much bigger? God, in the flesh, walking and living among His creation. A sinless man who became the sacrifice for our sins. The Gospel of John is more than Christology 101. It is an invitation to a living and active faith in Jesus Christ. Come join us on this life-changing journey through the book of John: the story of Jesus Christ.