Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on May 29, 2016
Open you Bibles to John 7:40-52. Today, we are getting back on the horse after taking a Sunday off last week for the purpose of unpacking the Biblical doctrine of Church Membership. Because it has been a couple weeks since being in John 7, let’s start with a brief review before we read our text for this morning.
John 7 takes place during one of the great feasts of Israel, the Feast of the Booths. Like all Jewish feasts the celebration takes place in Jerusalem. For Jesus, Jerusalem was a hot bed. Since the healing of invalid at the pool of Bethesda in John 5, there was a price on Jesus’ head. We are told in John 5:18, “This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.” From that moment until John 7, Jesus was spending most of his time in the Northern part of Israel, the province of Galilee. However, this changed in John 7 with the return of Jesus to Jerusalem. This marks Jesus’s march to the cross, for in approximately 6 months from the feast of the tabernacles, Jesus would be crucified during the Passover celebration.
The reason that things move relatively fast upon Jesus’ return to Jerusalem is first because there is a providential clock that is dictating exactly when Jesus will die. It is his destiny. Jesus will die at the time of the Passover celebration because this is the God ordained time because Jesus is the true Lamb of God that causes death to Passover those who believe in Him. However, the second reason, which is really connected to the first, is that Jesus is not avoiding his death, he is embracing it. Therefore Jesus is not lurking in the shadows, but is putting himself right in the midst of the turmoil.
And this is exactly what we see in John 7. Jesus, at the moment of this great celebration, puts himself right in the heart of it. And as we discussed last week, most likely at the moment of the water ceremony when all of Israel would be gathered and focused on the High Priest, Jesus cries out for all to hear, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.’” Jesus was not avoiding attention, he was seeking it. And this is where will pick up today in John 7:40-52.
John 7:40-52 – “When they heard these words, some of the people said, “This really is the Prophet.” 41 Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some said, “Is the Christ to come from Galilee? 42 Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” 43 So there was a division among the people over him. 44 Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him. 45 The officers then came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why did you not bring him?” 46 The officers answered, “No one ever spoke like this man!” 47 The Pharisees answered them, “Have you also been deceived? 48 Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him? 49 But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.” 50 Nicodemus, who had gone to him before, and who was one of them, said to them, 51 “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?” 52 They replied, “Are you from Galilee too? Search and see that no prophet arises from Galilee.”
When the Heard These Words
Let us begin by examining verse 40, “When they heard these words.” What words are being referred to? The Words of Jesus that I mentioned earlier, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Let us take a second and think about these words.
First, let us state the obvious. These words are words. What do I mean by that and why might this be significant? It is significant because of Him who speaks them. Ponder it for a moment. Jesus, who is God, the creator of all things, including the mind, the tongue, sound, languages is in the midst of his creation, surrounded by a sea of people created by Him and He is speaking to them. John 1:14, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” The God of the Universe has left his glorious throne and come to the Holy City of Jerusalem. Jesus has descended from the Mountain of God and revealed himself to His creatures. And what does he do? He speaks.
Our God is a God who speaks. He uses Words. And as it says in Hebrews 1:2, “but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.” It is so crucial for people to understand the centrality of the Word of God. The God of the Universe has ordained the ebb and flow of existence to be centered on the Words of God.
I have heard people mock Christians who cherish the Word and say things like, “You don’t love God, you love the Bible.” Those people who say things like that, don’t get it. For you cannot separate the two. Imagine me saying “I love my wife, but I can’t stand listening to her.” Would you doubt my love for her? You should.
The Word and the Holy Spirit is how God sustains our relationship with him. It is his breath that pierces our hearts and sanctifies our souls. So let us not move past the awe that we have a God who speaks, and in the last days he has spoken to us by His Son.
Next, let us look at the words themselves. What is Jesus, God incarnate saying? “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.” The primary message that Jesus came to the earth to proclaim is that He is the answer to everything. Jesus is the most self-centered man to ever walk this planet. He was unapologetically full of himself. How is this not sin? Why is this viewed as wrong for me, but not for Jesus? Because if I make myself the center of anything it is a lie. However, if Jesus makes himself the center of everything it is truth. In fact it is the highest of all truths. It is a truth that all other truths flow from and flow to. His is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.
Colossians 1:16, “all things were created through him and for him.” Ephesians 1:10, “as a plan for the fullness of time, to bring all things in heaven and on earth together in Christ.” Philippians 2:10, “so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,” Revelation 5:12, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”
This world was created for Christ. Jesus comes to proclaim that truth. This is what he came to preach. We see this over and over again as Jesus speaks to the people. The words that he preaches are words of self-exultation. And one thing that we should not forget is that these words that Jesus proclaims are not ultimately his words, but his Fathers. We saw this previously in John 7:16-18, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. 17If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. 18The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.”
And this is the difference between those who are cast into Hell and those who are not, who do you say Jesus is. Is he just a man, or is He the center of all things created?
I here many people talk about loved ones or friends and say, “They believe in God.” And they say it in such a way that is full of hope. As if believing in God is enough, but it is not. James 2:19 says, “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!” The question is, “Have you drank the living water of Jesus Christ?” These are the words of Jesus that he proclaimed that night and that he proclaims to the world today through the mouth of the saints.
We have been commissioned by Christ to take this same message to the crowds of our lives. We are called to point to Jesus and plead with them to drink. Encourage them to taste and see that the Lord is good. We cannot merely speak of God, we must speak of Jesus the God/Man. For it is only his blood that saves a sinner soul.
When they Heard These Words
As we see in verse 40 of our text today, these words of Jesus had an effect on the listeners. Some of the crowd said he was the prophet, some said he is the Messiah, some wanted him arrested, and some were amazed. You can't just hear the Word of God being proclaimed and be unmoved by it. The Word of God always has an effect. Isaiah 55:11 says, “so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” God's words are not like my words. God's word is not like the words of man. They are words of life. They are words that are active. They are words that have sovereign power, accomplishing all that God intended.
And what is neat about Isaiah 55:11 is what proceeds verse 11. In verse 1 of Isaiah 55 it says, “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.“ As Christ encourage all to come and drink he Words moved across the sea of faces like a mighty wind and created waves in accordance to His will.
The Power of the Gospel
Let us first look at those who believed Jesus to be the Messiah. John does not say much about this group, in verse 41 it merely says, “Others said, “This is the Christ.” Perhaps some of you may question, are they truly saved? With that I would pose a question back. Was the thief on the cross saved? Was Peter saved when he said in Matthew 16:16 when he simply said, ““You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”? We know the answer for those two questions is yes. Both the thief and Peter drank deeply of living water only he can provide.
The Bible tells us that one of the first evidences of true saving faith is confession. Luke 6:45 says, “for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Romans 10:9 says, “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. “ As the Word of their Savior hit their ears, their hearts were filled with the light of the Glory of God in the face of Jesus and they confessed him to be the long awaited for Anointed One, the Messiah, the Christ.
And this is the power of the Gospel. Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” The Gospel has power. The Gospel is the means by which God calls you into his family. If you want your loved ones to repent and put their faith in Christ Christ, it will not occur by the means of your actions, they must here the Gospel, for “It is the power of God for salvation.” The greatest evangelist ever to exist, the Apostle Paul understood this fundamental truth. Romans 10:17, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Likewise in 1 Corinthians 2:1, “And I, when I came to you, brothers,a did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” then in verse 5 he says, “so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” Paul knew that true faith comes from the simplicity and power of the Gospel.
They question I have for you today is, do you believe that the Word of God does not return void? Do you believe that saving faith comes from hearing the Word of Christ? Do you preach Jesus Christ and him crucified knowing that true faith must rest in the power of God? Are you ashamed of the Gospel or do you trust it to bring salvation into the lives of those who have ears to hear? Let us be a people at Cornerstones who have the Gospel on the tip of our tongues at all times. Let us be like Christ and not wait for an opportunity, lets us create opportunities.
No One Spoke Like this Man
The next group I want us to look briefly at are those whose who heard the words of Jesus, felt the power and life of those words, but did not have a place for those words to take root. In our text today those are to a lessor extent the ones who said that Jesus was the Prophet, but we see it most pronounced in the Jewish Officers.
First, the ones who said that Jesus was the Prophet, what is that about? What these people are talking about is the Prophet that Moses refers to Deuteronomy 18:15, “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen—“ Is Jesus that Prophet? Yes, but he is more than just a Prophet. Muslim's believe that Jesus is a prophet, but they do not believe his the Christ, therefore they do not drink his blood and eat his flesh, and therefore, the will die in their trespasses and sins. Believing that Jesus is some spiritual figure is not the road that leads to eternal life.
The people in who believed Jesus was the Prophet said that because they could not argue with the evidence of Christ. They recognized that He is more than the average man, but because the Word of God did not purpose to call them unto salvation, they merely responded in a logical way.
This is more clearly seen in the Jewish Officers. They had been commissioned by the leaders of the Sanhedrin to go and arrest Jesus. This was their task to go into the crowds, arrest this Jesus of Galilee and put him on trial for his disruptive and blasphemous proclamation. The officers had one task, and they couldn't do it. Why? Because it wasn't Jesus time. These words of Christ affected them in a way that they couldn't comprehend. They didn't have a category for him. They weren't sure what to do with Jesus but arresting him didn't seem right.
I would argue that this group is what fills our churches. People whose hearts resonate with the teaching of Jesus, but who are not willing to bow their knee and worship Him as Lord. These people may appear to be disciples, but they are not, for there is no root in them. The Word of God has scattered upon their heart but their hearts is not of good soil, so it does not become the implanted words that grows unto eternal life.
The Gospel Brings Division
As we end, I want us to focus on one more group, those who aggressively oppose the the Words of Christ. In our text today it is the Pharisees. The words of Jesus did not soften their heart, but instead hardened it. These are the people who we were told in John 5 wanted Jesus dead. The words that Christ spoke were so offensive that it revealed their murderous hearts. It should be noted that these Pharisees were “good” people. They gave to the poor. They prayed. They read the Bible. But in reality they were wolves in sheep's clothing, and Jesus was a threat to their way of life. Coming to drink from the fountain of Jesus Christ meant that they could no longer drink from the
sins of the World, and this infuriated them.
Now what is interesting about these hard hearted people is there approach to Christ. They wanted Jesus to just shut up. They were like spoiled children covering their ears and screaming “Shut, up! Shut up! Shut up!” And if anyone appeared to take the side of Jesus they called you stupid. Verse 47, “Have you also been deceived?”
Does this sound familiar? Welcome to America, where the new mantra is that Christians are stupid. The enlightened ones of this information age, believe we have been duped. They believe that we have naively bought into the greatest lie that has ever existed, that Jesus of Nazareth is God's son.
What is interesting is the irony of the Pharisee's statements. First in verse 42, “Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” Where was Jesus born? Bethlehem. Why was he born their? Because both Mary and Joseph came from the line of King David. Likewise in verse 52, “Search and see that no prophet arises from Galilee.” First of all both Jonah and Nahum were from Galilee, and don't forget about Isaiah 9:1 where Isaiah prophecies “in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. 2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” Just a few verses later in Isaiah 9:6 what does it say, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Those who call Christians ignorant are quick to display their own ignorance. I have run into this a multitude of times. People wanting to argue against Christianity and taking positions that do nothing more than to demonstrate their cluelessness. What they see as intelligence, shows nothing more than their foolishness. But this does not stop them from trying; maligning, mocking, arresting, murdering.
And today nothing has changed, nor will it until Christ returns. Jesus says in Matthew 10:34, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.” Division is a reality of the Gospel. Did Jesus know that inviting people to drink from him would cause division? Of course he did. Did it stop him? Absolutely not. Why? Because this is why he came.
And this is why we are here. We, like Christ, are called to share the Gospel, the power of God for salvation. What will be the result? Salvation? Yes, some. But not all. Others will be confused and others will hate you. This is the reality of the world we live in. Jesus tells us that he is sending us as sheep amongst wolves. Do not expect anything less. This is part of the narrow way. Right after Jesus speaks of the reality of division he says this Matthew 10:37, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
So what are we to take from this? We are to follow our Lord and Savior and stand in the midst of the crowds of our lives and call them to drink from the fountain of Jesus Christ, and we shall do this expecting division, expecting to be crucified. We must lay down our life, so that we can find it, and the Word of God will not return to him void.