Biblical Foundations 25: God’s Character 13: Responses to Jesus 5
As we continue looking to the Bible to discover the foundation of this local church, as we continue to look to the Bible to know the LORD, four of the last five Sundays we have done this by examining various responses of those who met Jesus face-to-face…we could continue to look at these passages for many more weeks:
- Some Mocked Him & Tried To Get Him To Be Their Kind of Messiah/Savior, To Carry Out Their Plans For Their Lives (Matthew 27:38-44)
- Some Only Wanted Earthly Blessings From Jesus (John 4:1-26)
- Some Wanted To Make Jesus A Political King Through Force (John 6:14-15)
But we will conclude this morning by looking at John 8 & 10:
- Some Tried To Kill Him Because He Claimed To Be God: John 8:31-59; John 10:19-39
Oh loved ones, I almost didn’t preach this sermon. That is, earlier in the week I almost chose to simply not preach on these passages and to preach on another passage.
Why? Because it is difficult to explain the amount of spiritual warfare that can happen to a pastor throughout a week, the spiritual resistance that he faces as he wrestles with preaching on difficult passages of Scripture or easier ones (or even not preaching from the Bible at all!!!!). It is not easy to explain the temptation to only preach what is easy, to preach what won’t ruffle feathers but what also will just leave people exactly the way they currently are, the temptation to preach what won’t rock the boat but what also won’t get people out of the storm of sin and into the harbor of the holiness of Jesus, the temptation to preach what people want to hear instead of what God has said. I share this not to ask for pity but to ask for continued prayer…The prophet Isaiah dealt with this nearly 3,000 years ago in Isaiah 30:9-11, that part of our sinfulness that just wants it easy, bright & breezy:
9 For these are rebellious people, deceitful children,
children unwilling to listen to the Lord’s instruction.
10 They say to the seers,
“See no more visions!”
and to the prophets,
“Give us no more visions of what is right!
Tell us pleasant things,
11 Leave this way,
get off this path,
and stop confronting us
with the Holy One of Israel!”
But preach I must. The character of God is also to confront us, loved ones, and without realizing it we drift away from this confrontation as a car drifts off the road when no hand is on the steering wheel. So please pray that the Holy Spirit continues to steer the preaching at this local church into the deep passages of Scripture so that we may know the LORD more & more deeply.
Before we start in John 8, please let me remind us: we are looking at these passages in order to know Who the Lord Jesus is according to the BIBLE, not according to the popular culture. We must see Jesus as both tender AND fierce, as both reaching out a hand gently AND getting in our face boldly, as the One Who comforts us with His character AND confronts us with His character. We must know Him as He has revealed Himself, and not as who we want/think Him to be…in John 10 Jesus says that His sheep don’t listen to other voices, strangers’ voices, that try to sound like Jesus but that aren’t Jesus—He describes them as wolves dressed up like sheep, a costumed caricature of Jesus, but not the real Jesus; Jesus says these false teachers are looking to devour the sheep, not feed them…Oh loved ones there is so much of this today—”Jesus would NEVER say that, Jesus would TOTALLY do that,” etc…Really? How do we know? We must know Jesus through the Bible, not our opinions, not who we think He is or should be. In these two passages this post, look at the ways that the Jesus of the Bible is different from the jesus of the culture:
31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Oh loved ones, Jesus has some harsh words in this passage for these people…and please note that these are not the Pharisees but people who “had believed in him.” They had belief, but not saving faith…They were excited about Him SO FAR, but those plans did not include their submission & surrender; they had their own plans for Jesus and the kind of Savior they wanted Him to be, but that is controlling God, that is making God in our own image, that is not faith, and that kind of thinking does not lead us to heaven.
Many people wanted Jesus to be a political Messiah Who would sweep away the Roman oppressors with military might and restore Israel to her former glory and power under David and Solomon. Jesus would not do that, though—He would sweep away the oppression and condemnation of sin for all who would cry out to Him for mercy and forgiveness, but He would do it through the cross, not the sword. Jesus knew earlier in John that these people who believed in their own personal version of Jesus wanted to come and make Him King by force, but Jesus would have none of that, Jesus would not play by their rules or ours…Jesus did have harsh words for the Pharisees, but not ONLY for the Pharisees…As you will hopefully see this post, the Lord Jesus also has harsh words for those who believe in a false-version of Jesus that serves our own will instead of us serving His, that believe in Him in general but do not believe in/agree with His teaching in particular.…
Oh loved ones, are you holding to Jesus’ teaching, are you gripping it, is it gripping you? Or is it in your bag of beliefs—gathered on your journey in life—amongst many other viewpoints/perspectives? Are your beliefs a melting pot sampling of many modern opinions, or are you holding to ONLY Jesus’ teaching…His Word…ALL of it, not just in general but in the specifics? As one pastor said in the 1970s, don’t be so open-minded that your brains fall out.
Are you holding to the teaching of the jesus of the culture, the cute and cuddly housecat?…Or are you holding to the teaching of the Jesus of Scripture, the holy and fierce Lion of the tribe of Judah? (Revelation 5:5) Jesus draws yet another line in the sand here—we are only His disciples if/when we are holding on to His teaching…we are NOT His disciples if/when we are holding on to the teaching of ANYONE else…This is polarizing, loved ones, but please remember that, as we have seen over the last six weeks, Jesus often confronts us with His character before He comforts us with His character…
And only as we hold to all of Jesus’ Truth—Genesis to Revelation (yes, the Old Testament too!)—are we able to be set free…But set free from what, you might wisely ask?
Hebrews 2:14-15: 14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.
Slavery to sin (Jesus will reference this in verse 34 below—Romans 6 is the great Bible chapter on the human condition of slavery to sin: 15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! 16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
Back To John 6:
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?”
Arguing with Jesus’ diagnosis—they are offended, just as those in John 6, by Jesus revealing their true spiritual condition. Not basically good people needing to improve a few parts of their lives…Jesus says they are slaves to sin. On one hand, it makes sense that they wouldn’t want to hear this diagnosis, but hear it they must. Why would they agree to Jesus’ cure if they don’t realize how sick they are? Would you go through chemo if you thought you only had a cold? No, but if the doctor has the courage to tell you about your cancer, only upon being convinced of that Truth and agreeing with it will you then submit to the doctor’s cure, however painful it might be…Again, Jesus often must confront us with His character before He comforts us with His character…
34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word. 38 I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father.[b]”
Until you receive me and submit to Me as your Savior, you have no place in God the Father’s family. YIKES! If Jesus Tweeted that He would be roasted over the coals of the culture…but He boldly declares that Truth, in love, nonetheless…
39 “Abraham is our father,” they answered.
They are relying on a cultural/familiar/biological heritage, much like many in America do: I’ve attended church all my life, my parents were Christians, I believe in God, I do good deeds, etc. We rest in those facts instead of resting in Christ, in His Word, in His cross, in His empty-tomb. Like those in this passage, many of us have no room for His Word—all of it, Genesis to Revelation. Remember, Jesus is talking here to people “who had believed in Him,” but clearly not in a saving faith belief. They hadn’t surrendered, they didn’t realize how far from God they were, didn’t sign the full confession to the Lord, taking full responsibility for their sinfulness and placing themselves completely at the mercy of His grace & love & Truth.
“If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would[c] do what Abraham did. 40 As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. 41 You are doing the works of your own father.”
“We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.”
42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. 43 Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. 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. 45 Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! 46 Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47 Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”
Loved ones, don’t miss this. Jesus is talking to people who believe in God, who believe they are God’s children, and He is telling them that they are not. Could anything be more offensive to our sinful natures than to have someone tell us that we are NOT children of God? But that is what Jesus is doing here…He is willing to offend them in order to tell them the Truth, in order to shake them from their seemingly comfortable/safe position so that they can see that they must cry out to Jesus alone for salvation, forgiveness, new life—He alone is the only eternal safety, the only harbor in the storms of life…
Jesus’ Claims About Himself
48 The Jews answered him, “Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?”
And now their mouths speak out of the overflow of their hearts (Matthew 12:34)–now they are revealing their true character, and their true opinion of Jesus (e.g. the falseness of their “belief”) as He confronts them with the Truth.
49 “I am not possessed by a demon,” said Jesus, “but I honor my Father and you dishonor me. 50 I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. 51 Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.”
52 At this they exclaimed, “Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that whoever obeys your word will never taste death. 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?”
They are willing to think highly of Jesus, but not to consider Him the HIGHEST. For them, Jesus must assume the position of middle of the shelf, but not top-shelf, not highest. Jesus is “up there,” but Abraham is WAY up there. Just like many today:
- “Do you really expect me to believe that this book (the Bible) is greater than the scientific discoveries of the last 100+ years? Nonsense—my reason, my intellect, what I can prove with my senses, that is highest for me. I’m willing to give Jesus a position of honor–prophet, humanitarian, teacher of love, but not the Highest, not God, not King, not Lord.”
- “Do you really expect me to agree with ALL of this book (the Bible), especially some of that stuff in the Old Testament? Rubbish—I like parts of this book and I’m happy to say that Jesus is love, but I will not believe those teachings that go against how I was raised, my own personal beliefs and opinions and values. Life is a buffet, there are many different perspectives and they are all valid, and I’m in charge of my plate–I’m willing to put Jesus on as a side-dish, but not as the only food/entree.”
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. 55 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 obey his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”
57 “You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!”
58 “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” 59 At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.
Oh loved ones, do you see the Biblical Jesus here and how He is different from the cultural jesus? Jesus made people SO ANGRY that they wanted to kill Him ahead of God the Father’s timing…they didn’t want to kill Jesus because He just walked around all day saying sweet and pleasant sayings about love…He did love perfectly and talk about love, He did comfort people and heal them…but He also confronted people, He also cut them to the quick to accurately diagnose their sin and to dogmatically proclaim their need for Him, and Him alone…
John 10:19-39 (NIV)
19 The Jews who heard these words were again divided. 20 Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?”
Look at the polarizing effect Jesus had on people! They didn’t just politely disagree with Him, they thought He was a lunatic! And the world today thinks the same thing of the Biblical Jesus and His followers.
21 But others said, “These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”
Further Conflict Over Jesus’ Claims
22 Then came the Festival of Dedication[a] at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. 24 The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”
25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
Oh loved ones, does this describe you & Jesus? That you listen to His voice, that He knows you, and that you follow Him? Now of course none of us will do this perfectly, but does your life over the last six months, year, or more look like Jesus’ description of those who are His sheep? Your checkbook and your calendar—who do THEY reveal that you are following in your daily life?
28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all[b]; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”
31 Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, 32 but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”
33 “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”
Just like today! You won’t find too many people who get mad at Christians for serving the poor and feeding the hungry. But when we start to teach and evangelize with words and say that Jesus is the only way to heaven and that certain things are sin and must not be celebrated, etc., well that’s when people begin to get very upset. It is almost always teaching/beliefs/doctrine that gets people upset, and the same thing happened to Jesus, yet He didn’t back down from teaching that specific doctrine that the people needed to hear.
But Jesus gets in trouble here not just for teaching, but for claiming to be God, for claiming that everything and everyone belongs to Him, that we are not so independent like we celebrate. For sinful humans, this is the one Truth that gets our blood boiling the quickest and hottest—that God is God and we are not, that we MUST answer to and submit to Him, both now and for eternity. For Jesus to be God is to de-throne self, to impeach and overthrow our right to call the shots, to declare that we are DEPENDENT on Jesus, not independent from Him…
Back to John 10
34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods”’? 35 If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be set aside— 36 what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? 37 Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father.
38 But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” 39 Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp.
Now you might be thinking, “But m.j., Jesus responding like this doesn’t sound loving, it doesn’t seem kind!”
I hear you, and yes, according to a particular definition of love—love always makes other people feel happy and good all the time—Jesus is not loving people in this passage. But Jesus never claimed to love people by OUR definition of the word, but by the Father’s definition in The Word. The Author of Life sets the true definitions of all words, and the love of God in the Bible is the love that comforts and confronts, that diagnoses sin so that we understand our true condition and cry out to Jesus not just for some better manners but to be a brand-new/re-born man or woman. Jesus isn’t just trying to get these people to cooperate or get along—He is calling them out and revealing to them that they are in league with the devil even though they don’t realize it…You cannot get someone out of prison before you tell them they are in prison…you can’t invite someone on the right path without telling them they are on the wrong path (they probably like their current path!), and Jesus does so clearly and firmly here…
But lets also remember that later on Jesus will look out over all Jerusalem (Matthew 23:37-39)—all these folks in John 8 and 10 and more—and in full view of their terrible sin He will say that He LONGS to gather them together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings…but He won’t gather them because they are not willing to be gathered…HE wants to comfort & heal & forgive & make new & adopt but THEY don’t want Him to…In spite of their (and OUR!) terrible sinfulness, Jesus longs to gather them (and us!)…
And Jesus eventually proves this amazing Biblical love by going all the way to the cross to offer salvation and mercy and grace even to these people in John 8 and 10…even to people like us…so while it may seem to us like Jesus isn’t loving them in John 8 and 10, He is, dear friends, He is…He will go ALL THE WAY in truly loving them, in loving us, farther and more beautifully and more sacrificially than any definition of love this Splenda-culture can create…
Oh loved ones…does the Jesus you believe in and follow talk to people like this?
Does the Jesus you worship comfort AND confront people with His grace & Truth?
Is the Jesus you are considering believing in and following, is He gentle AND fierce?
Does your jesus only affirm and agree with you, or does He confront and convict you?
He should because this is the Biblical Jesus, the real Jesus.
He healed those who were physically sick;
He also told people they were spiritually sick,
far from God & needing to be saved from hell.
He was patient and loving with people’s sin,
But He also told them to “go and sin no more,” to “go and leave your LIFE of sin,”
He called their lifestyle sin—He didn’t sugar-coat it, and He certainly didn’t celebrate it.
He did say, “If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world” (John 12:47),
and we LOVE to stop at that verse and say–“THAT’s Jesus!”
But in the very next breath He said, “There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day”, if they don’t repent of their sin & receive me as their Savior & King. Not as comforting, but definitely confronting! BOTH of these verses are Jesus!
Are we following THIS Jesus?
Jesus forcefully said to Peter, “Get behind Me, satan!” when Peter tried to talk Jesus out of dying on the cross. He was not Jesus meek and mild there…
Are we following THIS Jesus?
Jesus, in holy anger & zeal (which was predicted in the Old Testament!) forcefully overturned the tables of the money changers and made a whip out of cords and literally beat them out of His Father’s House?
- Oh loved ones, has that Jesus EVER over-turned your life because of your sin? Has Jesus, in love, ever gotten all up in your grill because of the ways that you (and I!) rebel against Him every day? Does your Jesus only pat you on the head when you sin and say, “Now be a good girl/boy!” Or does your Jesus give you a swift kick in the pants when necessary? Does He ever bring you to your knees so that you can repent, truly grieve, over your sin?
Are we following THIS Jesus?
Jesus told His true followers that the world will eventually hate us for believing in and agreeing with ALL of Jesus’ words, that a time would come when people would kill His followers and believe they were doing what God wanted.
Are we following THIS Jesus?
Jesus Who agreed with EVERY SINGLE WORD of the Old Testament, even those verses and passages that so many modern people don’t like, don’t agree with, are offended by, etc.?
Are we following THIS Jesus?
Jesus said He would show Paul how much Paul would suffer for the name of Jesus, and that Paul would eventually realize that this suffering was not a punishment but a BLESSING?
Are we following the same Jesus as the early Christians did?
Jesus allowed them to suffer as a gift, Jesus didn’t teach them to fight or sue for their rights, or run away, or water down the Gospel, or add in some beliefs that were acceptable to the Romans, when they were whipped for being Christians. Jesus taught them to rejoice, to be full of joy because Jesus counted them worthy to suffer for His Name. Jesus taught them to disobey the authorities when they told the early Christians to stop telling others about Jesus!
Are we following the same Jesus as the early Christians did?
Those Christians understood that they MUST grow and mature—that is the only way to honor & glorify & thank Jesus for His grace, that taking up our cross and following Jesus is the only true response of worship for such undeserved grace. And those Christians understood also that the only way for them to grow and mature as Christians was to suffer, was to run toward difficulty and not away from it, was to follow Jesus wherever He led them, even if He allowed them to be set on fire, fed to lions, have their property stolen, etc. Those Christians, when they were imprisoned, didn’t even allow themselves to be released from jail because they wanted to get even more treasures in heaven!
Loved ones, my point in teaching through these different responses to Jesus over the past 6 Sundays is so that we WON’T respond to Jesus in these ways! All of these people, in rejecting Jesus as He really is (not who they think He is), are rejecting the amazing benefits that we learned about a few posts ago in Colossians 1 & 2—they are rejecting
- being qualified by God to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light
- being rescued by God from judgment/wrath & being redeemed from destruction
- being chosen by God to agree with, submit to & understand the mystery of the Gospel
- being reconciled by God from being His enemy to being one of His children
- being circumcised by Jesus Himself, Jesus making a mark on our souls that shows the universe that we belong to Him, that He claims us no matter how nasty our sins are!
- being made alive in Christ when we were dead in our sins
These people that we’ve looked at over the last month or so rejected Jesus AND ALL THESE AMAZING DETAILS OF HIS GRACE! They walked away from Him because His teaching—His Word!—offended them! But please don’t miss this: they didn’t walk away from Jesus right away…some started out excited and passionate about Jesus in an earthly sense at first but then they started arguing about His teaching, they grumbled, they didn’t like what He said, they just looked at Him from an earthly perspective, they just wanted miracles and free stuff, they didn’t want doctrine and repentance and new birth and submission to Christ, eating His flesh and drinking His blood, they didn’t like that what He taught went against how they were raised culturally, went against the opinions of their family and neighbors. Jesus confronted them with His character & Truth in order to eventually comfort them with His love, but they argued with Him, and then ultimately walked away from Him. And loved ones, MANY MANY OF US TODAY in local churches all around the United States are in the arguing process with God, we only like parts of His Word and twist Scripture so we don’t offend the culture, how we were raised—or we go find another church that teaches what our itching ears want to hear. We want to be citizens of heaven AND citizens of this fallen world, accepted by God AND accepted by society at large. We only accept parts of the Bible and we are in danger, if we don’t repent and ask God for help, we are in danger of doing to Jesus what these disciples did in John 6 and most of the people did in response to Jesus—walking away from Him entirely to worship someone/something else.
May the LORD continue to have mercy on us…