Open your Bibles to John chapter 7 as we continue our study together in John's gospel, this morning, we come to verses 25 through 36. Beginning in chapter 7 and verse 25, John records for us, "Then said some of them of Jerusalem, Is not this He, whom they seek to kill? But lo, He speaketh boldly, and they say nothing unto Him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is the very Christ? Nevertheless we know this man from where He is, but when Christ cometh no man knoweth from where He is. Then cried Jesus in the temple as He taught, saying, Ye both know Me and ye know from where I am. And I am not come of Myself, but He that sent Me is true to whom ye know not. But I know Him, for I am from Him and He hath sent Me. Then they sought to take Him but no man laid hands on Him because His hour was not yet come. And many of the people believed on Him and said...When Christ cometh will He do more miracles than these which this man hath done? The Pharisees heard that the people murmured such things concerning Him and the Pharisees and the chief priests sent officers to take Him. Then said Jesus unto them, Yet a little while am I with you and then I go unto Him that went Me. Ye shall seek Me and shall not find Me and where I am, there ye cannot come. Then said the Jews among themselves, Where will He go that we shall not find Him? Will He go unto the dispersed among the Greeks and teach the Greeks? What manner of saying is this that He said ye shall seek Me and shall not find Me and where I am there ye cannot come?"
May God bless to our hearts this important passage which we shall study in a few moments.
This has been a rich study in John's gospel. Just primarily it's a study of the person of Jesus Christ. Incidently, if you don't have a Bible with you, why you will probably be able to find one in the pew rack there and we hope you'll be able to follow along verse by verse. You really don't get as much out of it if you don't follow in your Bible as you study and as you listen. This really helps to tack you down. In the earlier service I mentioned something which may be a help to you, as well. If you will daily the week following the given message reread that passage, you will find that it will become indelible in your mind. We'll endeavor to present to you the truths of a certain passage. If each day, and it will only take you about five minutes, you'll reread that passage, these truths will have a way of embedding themselves in your mind while they're still fresh. And this is how you really study and really absorb things, so we want to encourage you to do that. Follow through on following up on what we study on Sunday.
All right, coming then to chapter 7 we have come to what really begins John's account of the final period in the ministry of our Lord. The Lord has just told His disciples prior to the events of John 7, He has just told His disciples for the first time that He is going to die on the cross. This is the first introduction they've had to this. Having told them this, and incidently, it's recorded in the other gospels, having told them this He sets out for Jerusalem for the last time. And it is only a matter of months until He will die. And from John 7 through the end of John's gospel, chapter 21, is recorded for us the final words and activities of Jesus Christ leading to His death and resurrection. This is the period of the final ministry of Jesus Christ. And so, He leaves Galilee and so He goes to Jerusalem.
It's autumn. In fact, it's early autumn. It's October. It's Feast of Tabernacles week when He goes. The harvest operations are all over. The people can take a week off. The tints of gold have just begun to streak the leaves and Jesus moves to Jerusalem. Strangers are there, countrymen from Judea, strangers from Peraea, Galilee, other places mingling in the streets of Jerusalem at the feast time. And they are mingling in the ever-present shadow of the great sanctuary, the temple. Its glorious marble, its cedar wood, its gold, it sits up there high on Mount Moriah and casts its shadow over the whole of Jerusalem, and its shadow is all the more indelible because the Feast of Tabernacles concentrates on it in particular.
And Jesus is also there and He walks in Jerusalem, not so much under the shadow of the temple as under the shadow of a wooden rugged cross soon to be erected high on a different hill, Mount Calvary. And starting with John chapter 7, Jesus begins to walk in the relentless lurking shadow of the cross. He has come to Jerusalem because it is time to come to Jerusalem. He does everything when it is time to do it. He delayed because His time was not yet come. His time has come and thus He has arrived in Jerusalem. He comes to Jerusalem knowing He will die. He comes to Jerusalem knowing He will be hated and persecuted. But He comes anyway because He had to present His truth, and secondly, His death will mean redemption. And so He comes. And from now on, from chapter 7 to the end of this gospel, we are in the shadow of the cross.
We've already seen the progression of rejection that Jesus Christ has met. We've already seen how people responded to Him. We saw it in the previous chapters, from the very first chapter where John told us He came unto His own and His own...what?..received Him not. And that's how it's been and that's how it always was. We've already seen it that way in Galilee, and now we see it again in chapter 7...only this time it's intensified. This time it reaches kind of a fever pitch and it's not any kind of indifferent hate, it's volatile, violent hate that brings about a plot to murder Him. We've seen already in chapter 7 and verse 5 the rejection of His brothers, His own brothers rejected Him. We saw in verses 15 to 19 rejection by the Jewish leaders. We saw in verse 20 rejection by the crowd made up primarily evidently of pilgrims from Peraea, Galilee and the other extremities. And now in our passage this morning we will see rejection by the citizens of Jerusalem themselves. One by one, group by group, Jesus is rejected. And though there are varying groups and though there are varying degrees of rejection, it's all unbelief and it all comes out the same. And eventually it was all these groups, except His own brothers, who stood together in one voice and cried, "Crucify Him, crucify Him and we will not have this man to reign over us."
There's really no difference and some people have the mistaken idea that people who are tolerant of Jesus Christ and who maybe to some degree even acquiesce to some of His truth are in a better position than people who blaspheme Him. That is not so. That is not so. To receive Jesus Christ is the only hope. To stand on the outside and say, "Yeah, He's a wonderful person, I think I believe some of the things He said. I think I do. I'm not ready to commit my life to it," is as blasphemous or more blasphemous as the one who stands aside and spits and mocks Him because to know the truth and not to do it is the greatest blasphemy.
And so, whether or not it is the leaders, or whether or not it is the pilgrims who make up the crowd, or whether it is the Jews of Jerusalem themselves, or whether it is the Romans who nail Him on a cross, whoever it is, to reject is to reject and the point of degree is not even an issue. The common people were no better than the rulers. The Lord's own brothers were no better than the rest of the world. The inhabitants of Jerusalem had no more heart for Christ than did the people from the provinces. You see, it becomes very obvious very soon that faith is not a class issue. And faith is not a matter of degrees or non degrees. Either you believe and you commit yourself to that belief, or you don't commit yourself to that belief or you don't believe. And human nature is the same. It has nothing to do with who you are. And to be very frank, it is only the distinguishing grace of God that even makes one differ from another at all. And so the hostilities begin and the flames of hostilities flame higher than they ever have. And what was somewhat indifferent to begin with, now becomes absolutely violent. And in this section we see Jesus having already confronted His brothers, having already confronted the leaders of Israel and the temple crowd, and now He moves into direct confrontation with the citizens of Jerusalem themselves and their reaction and their response is no different than anybody else's. And incidently, He makes the very same claims to these people that He's made all along. And He...in fact, reiterates the one claim that always incensed everybody. He made a lot of claims. We went over them last week. He made a lot of them. But the claim that really flipped everybody and just made them violently against Him was the constant claim that Jesus kept making to the fact that He was God, equal with God and came from heaven. That they could not tolerate. To them that was blasphemy.
And every time Jesus confronted them He said, "I am the one that came from above, I am the one that came from God. I know God, you don't know Him. But when I'm done I'm going back to Him." And they did not buy that. It humiliated them in the first place. In the second place, their ignorance would not let them believe it. And the fact of divine origin and divine citizenship of Jesus Christ was the claim that infuriated them the most. So naturally Jesus makes the same claim again because if you don't understand that claim, all the other claims of Christ don't mean anything. And Jesus again in verses 25 to 36, as we shall see this morning, makes the same identical claims again. And He again talks about His divine citizenship, that He came from God. And again, they are incensed at Him.
In fact, in this passage we see three problems that they face. The Jewish population of Jerusalem faces three problems. You have your little outline there in the bulletin, you can follow along. We've noted them for you there. They are faced with three really serious problems. Christ confronts them and He brings up three problems, three dilemmas. The problem of dense confusion, the problem of divided conviction, and the problem of delayed conversion, these three problems leave these Jerusalemites in a state of utter despair. And I want you to see these problems as they unfold for us.
Jesus Christ created problems, He still does. First problem is the problem of dense confusion, verses 25 to 29. Now I want you to catch the feeling of what's going on so I'm going to back up and I want you to listen very carefully to what I say.
Jesus has for a while now, at the midst of the feast in Jerusalem, been really firing both barrels at the Jewish people. He has flung accusations right into the teeth of His opponents. He has absolutely defied them. He has shut them off. He has charged them and their followers, that is the Jewish leaders and the people who follow them, He has charged them with the most disgusting kind of legalistic hypocrisy and inconsistency imaginable. He says, "You hypocrites, you claim to follow the Law of Moses and you don't even know how to interpret it. Not only that, you disobey it openly. Your logic is poor. Your insights are worse. Your knowledge is terrible. Your hypocrisy gross." And I mean, He really laid them out and we saw it in the last passage. They were dumbfounded, standing there in paralyzed silence as He called them what they were...hypocrites, fakes. And He was talking to the Jewish leaders who were the spiritual hypocrites. And the pilgrims, evidently, that is the people who were to make their pilgrimage from other parts, they didn't know this plot was going on. And back in verse 19 Jesus had said to them, "You know, you follow Moses, you say, and then you go about to kill Me. What kind of stuff is that? Don't you know Moses said you shouldn't kill? Hypocrites. You want to kill Me," Jesus said.
Well, the crowd who had come in from other parts didn't know about this plot and so they replied by saying, "Well wait a minute. You must have a demon. Who is going to kill You?" And they just don't know, see. So the crowd reacted to what Jesus said. His absolute condemnation of these leaders, the crowd reacted to that in ignorance. But that's really immaterial. The thing that stunned me was the fact that the rulers never even reacted. They never moved a muscle. He confronted them and He told them what they were and they were stunned and they were speechless and they had been publicly humiliated. And nobody tried to move toward Christ. Nobody touched Him.
You know, they weren't stupid and they probably had good memories for the things they wanted to remember. And they may have remembered this. Number one, you don't want to get into an argument with this guy, He'll really shut you off. He is so devastating.
The second thing they may have remembered was this, the last time He arrived in the temple and took over the place, He made a whip and He chased everybody out of here. Now this is no average-type individual. And I think what you have there is a good illustration of collective cowardice. Nobody dared open their trap. And not only that, nobody dared take a step toward Jesus Christ, they were probably scared to death of Him. One good indication of that is the very likelihood that when they came to take Him in the Garden of Gethsemane to crucify Him later on, they brought the whole entourage from Fort Antonious which probably numbered just under 500 soldiers. Now when you've got to have 500 people to go get one, you've got something boiling in the back of your brain. And nobody was about to attack Jesus Christ. And they stood there dumbfounded, silent and that brought up the confusion.
With that in mind, look at verse 25. "Then said some of them of Jerusalem." Now stop right there. Some of the people who live in Jerusalem are looking at these leaders who are just standing there frozen. And they're kind of looking at each other and some of the people of Jerusalem say this, verse 25, "Is not this He whom they seek to kill?"
Well what do you mean by that? Well just this, they are confused about why the leaders are just standing there, taking this when they already know that the leaders want to kill Him. The Jerusalemites know well the plot that's kind of simmering. And they are confused as to why these leaders don't take some moves to shut up Jesus Christ, to close His mouth since they are already aware that they want to kill Him. They can't figure out what's going on. And so they sit there in this kind of confusion...why don't they act? And the rulers are standing there in confusion saying...what do we do? The rulers are confused and the Jerusalemites are confused trying to figure out why the rulers are confused. And nobody moves, nobody even takes a move toward Jesus Christ.
And the Jerusalemites further their little argument in verse 26. "But lo He speaks boldly and they say nothing unto Him." He's just standing there in the middle of this place and He's just ripping them up one side and down the other and they don't even say anything. They didn't even speak. They have their chance, they want to kill Him, why don't they act right now while He's giving it to them? They'll get the support of the population. If they move now the people will stand behind them. But they don't move, they stand there speechless, paralyzed.
They probably remembered the last time they opened their mouth in verse 15, how fast it got shut. They tried to knock Jesus Christ by saying He didn't go to the right rabbinical schools and He said, "You're right, I didn't go to your schools. God taught me directly." How do you handle that one? And so they don't say anything. And Jesus just speaks boldly. That means He just confronted them with what they really needed to be confronted with.
I love the fact that it says, "He spoke boldly." Christ was always bold. He always was. He never backed off an inch. He was absolute boldness personified. Back in Isaiah chapter 50 in a prophecy of Christ, as clear a prophecy of Christ as anywhere, we see this character of Christ portrayed by the prophet. In chapter 50 verse 6 Jesus is talking prophetically. "I gave My back to the smiters," which He did, "My cheeks to them that plucked off the hair," which He did. "I hid not My face from shame and spitting." Jesus wasn't ashamed. He wasn't ashamed. He took it. "For the Lord God will help Me." He had confidence. "Therefore shall I not be confounded. Therefore have I set My face like a flint and I know that I shall not be ashamed. He is near who justifies Me. Who will contend with Me? Let us stand together. Who is Mine adversary? Let him come near Me. Behold, the Lord God will help Me. Who is he that will condemn Me? Lo, they all shall grow old like a garment, the moths shall eat them up."
Jesus says I stand boldly, unashamedly. I don't worry about anybody confounding Me. I don't worry about anybody harming Me. God is on My side. Such boldness. Such boldness! Jesus Christ stood in the face of those hostile people ready to kill Him and He was bold and it didn't matter what they did. Tremendous lesson for us, tremendous. You know, most of us don't even know what the meaning of boldness is. If we're ever confronted with an antagonistic situation toward Christianity, we tend to crawl in a shell and die. Jesus was bold. And I'll tell you something, if you really know and love Jesus Christ and you're really next to Jesus Christ and you're really living in constant communion with Jesus Christ, this same boldness is going to capture you. Remember in Acts chapter 4 verse 13 when the people looked at Peter and John and they proclaimed that they spoke boldly? They said they were amazed that they spoke so boldly and they perceived that they had been with...whom?...Jesus. You get with Jesus Christ in any kind of constant proximity and the boldness of Christ is going to become your boldness. Jesus Christ was bold. The apostle Paul had something of that same boldness and he told the Ephesians about it when he said this, "And for me...and he's asking them to pray...pray for me that utterance may be given unto me that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel for which I am an ambassador in bonds that in this I may speak boldly...watch this...as I ought to speak." We ought to speak boldly.
Second Timothy 1 verse 7, Paul told Timothy who was having a little trouble with boldness and he was really getting very shy. And some of the errorists had gotten to him and some people were getting to him because of his youth. And he had an ulcer that was bugging him. And he was kind of crawling up and shriveling away and Paul says to him, "God hath not given us the spirit of...what?...fear, but of power and love and a sound mind." There's no fear, power, boldness. So should we follow the example of Jesus Christ, confront the world with boldness as He did.
And He confronted them and shattered their hypocrisy and they couldn't move, they couldn't react. In stunned silence they just...they just were captive by His absolute mastery of the moment. They were confused. And the citizens of Jerusalem were confused because they didn't see any action coming from these leaders who had been chastised so. Then almost like a flash of lightning some of the Jerusalemites evidently got an idea of why the rulers weren't moving. They were trying to justify the fact that they were just standing there and they get a little idea. Well maybe this is it, verse 26, it says this, "But lo, He speaketh boldly and they say nothing unto Him," and then this question and here's what's running through their brain, "Do the rulers know indeed that this is the very Christ?"
Do they know something we don't know? They aren't acting. They aren't responding. Why aren't they responding? Maybe they know that this is the Christ. But then there's a very interesting thing in the Greek construction of this sentence. The Greeks had many interesting things that they did with their language. One thing the Greeks could do that we can't necessarily do in English is this, the Greeks could put a word in a sentence that you didn't even translate, but that word all by itself made the question have a no answer automatically. In other words, they had a wonderful ability to ask and answer their questions while they were asking them. They had the answer in there. The little particle is a two-letter particle m-e, me, pronounced may. Whenever meappeared in a Greek sentence, that was a negative reply expected. And that me is in this sentence. And in effect they're saying this, "Well the rulers haven't decided this is the Messiah? No way." See. No, that can't be. The question just kind of skips across their brains and they don't really even give it a second thought. They don't really believe it's possible. It's as if they say, "Well there's no possibility that they could think this is the Messiah, that would be ridiculous." And yet they did for a second entertain the thought as a justification for their inaction. So they're confused. They don't know why they're not acting. They ask themselves a question, before they even finish it they've stuck the mein there and said no to it. So they don't know what's going on.
And the reason they...you say, "Well why didn't they believe that the rulers were thinking that? Maybe the rulers were thinking this is the Christ." Well they don't believe that and the reason they don't is in verse 27. They say they couldn't be thinking this because, "We know this man from where He is, but when Christ comes no man knows from where He is." See, they say well this couldn't be, oh no, they know He's from Nazareth, the son of Joseph and Mary and he's just a carpenter, they know all that. Nah, nah, they couldn't think He's the Messiah, no way. You see, that shows their ignorance. They just say, "Nah, nah, they can't be thinking He's Messiah because we all know that He just, you know, lived up there in Nazareth. No big thing, He's been around for a long time." Same ole thing they said in Matthew 13:55 when they said, "You're nobody, You're just the son of the carpenter. You live in Nazareth, don't tell us anything." Same thing.
But interestingly enough there was a group of them that didn't feel that way. It was kind of a tradition that had grown up. You notice at the end of verse 27, they say, "When Christ comes no man knows from where He is." A tradition had grown up that Christ would appear suddenly. A beautiful job of misinterpreting Malachi 3:1, "The Lord shall come suddenly to His temple," and another beautiful job of misinterpreting Isaiah 53, "Who shall declare His generation?" gave them the misconstrued idea that when Christ arrived it would be zap, right out of the blue, and here's Messiah. And the fact that they knew Jesus had been around for 30 some years and that He came from Nazareth and that He was the son of Joseph and Mary, and the minds of some of them just purely disqualified Him. And that was really stupid. That was stupid cause had they known anything about the Old Testament they would have known that Micah told them exactly the city in which He was going to be born. "Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the sons of Judah, out of these shall He come forth who is to be ruler of my people Israel." And even back in Matthew in the second chapter when they had announced the birth of Christ, the chief priests and elders said He's going to be born in Bethlehem. Oh there was a group that believed that over in verse 42. Some of them piped up and said, "Now wait a minute, we know He's going to be born in Bethlehem." And verse 43 says, "That caused a division."
Now you've got two groups, some of them say, "Ah, this can't be the Messiah, He came from Nazareth." Other ones are saying, "Nah, this can't be the Messiah, He's got to come from Bethlehem and this one came from Nazareth." You see, they don't even bother to ask if He was born in Bethlehem. And so they decided it couldn't be the Messiah. No way this could be the Messiah because they knew where He came from. No big mystery. And even the ones who knew about the Scripture of Bethlehem and understood that hadn't found out that Jesus was actually born there. They didn't even pursue that. And so they're standing there all confused and bewildered.
Now, you say, why did you choose the word "dense" confusion? Well, I chose it, first of all, because it starts with "d," but mostly...mostly I chose it because it means stupid. And they were ignorant, inexcusable and stupid in their confusion.
END OF SIDE ONE
You say, "Why?" Because of this, if they had believed, that is that little one part of the group, that He was to come from Bethlehem, then they should have found out whether Jesus did in fact come from Bethlehem, first of all. If they were that group that said He was going to come from nowhere, then they should have read Micah 5:2 and found out that He was going to come from Bethlehem. Whichever way you cut it, it comes out willful stupidity, dense confusion. They should have known. They were inexcusable from a human viewpoint.
See they...both of them...just were so smug and so arrogant that they had all the answers. This is how Jesus will be. This is where He'll come. He'll fit our little mold. See. You can't make Jesus fit your mold, no time, not then, not today. You know, some people have the idea that Jesus is instant Jello and that everybody has their own mold and you can make Him any shape you want Him to be. And that's not true. I suppose you've talked to many people like I have too that say, "Well let me tell you what I think about Jesus...I want to give you my opinion of Jesus." Who cares? Who wants it really? Don't tell me your opinion of Jesus. Jesus isn't up for opinions. You do not make Jesus conform to your mold. You don't do it. Jesus is what He is, either you believe it or you reject it, you don't change Him. Paul hit the nail right smack on the head dead center in Romans 8 verse 29, listen to this, "For whom He did foreknow He also did predestinate...listen...to be conformed to the image of His Son."
Listen, you don't make Jesus fit your mold. Paul says, you become conformed to Him. And so these people thought, "Well, this guy just doesn't quite make it." We've got all the answers before anybody even asks the questions. They had their opinions about Messiah. They had their opinions about who He'd be and what He'd be and where He'd come from and all of this. They had grossly misinterpreted the Old Testament, or else they had stopped with their smug knowledge of Bethlehem and assumed that Jesus didn't come from there. And so they were densely confused. And as always, Jesus never explains Himself to unbelief. He makes no defense of Himself. He makes no explanation, none at all.
But He does really react. And I mean, He reacts violently. You know, Jesus Christ in His lifetime on earth could really get hit to the quick. He could really get it right down to the depth of His soul. And when He did, He responded. He responded. And in the next verse, not too many times in the Bible when Jesus really yelled, but in the next verse He really cuts loose and yells. He has really had it with their...with their dense confusion, willful ignorance. And He really lets it go, the superficial uninformed non-caring, non-seeking kind of judgment that they had given to Him really reaches the depths of His being. They have despised Him, they have written Him off. They have mocked Him and He yells at Him. And in verse 28, notice it, "Then cried Jesus in the temple as He taught saying," and the word "cries" is a Greek word ek krazen(?) and it carries with it the idea of crying out, ek krazenand He yelled at them. Great support for yelling when you're preaching. Jesus had been hit from the bottom of His heart. He had taken as much as He could take. This is the character of God who said, "My Spirit shall not always strive with man." Not too many times in the Bible you see Jesus get sarcastic and ironic, but you're going to see it here. His words are full of irony. You can catch the fire in verse 28, "Cried Jesus in the temple as He taught saying...listen to it..., 'Ye both know Me and ye know from where I am and I am not come of Myself but He that sent Me is true whom ye know not, but I know Him for I am from Him and He hath sent Me.'"
You know what He's saying here? I want you to catch this, just the first phrase. Ye both know Me and you know from where I am. Now He says you know Me and you know from where I am. Now compare that with 8:19, listen to this. Here He's talking to the same people again, 8:19, "Then said they unto Him, 'Where is Thy Father?' Jesus answered and said, 'Ye neither know Me nor My Father.'"
You say, "Hold it, contradiction. There He says you don't know Me. Back in chapter 7 He says you do know Me. What's going on?" Just this. Chapter 7 is sarcasm. Can you see it? The construction lends itself to this, listen. "So you know Me, do you? That's what you think." That's the construction. You don't know Me. You see it? Do you catch the ek krazen,the crying out? He has been cut to the depth and He says, "Right, you know Me and you know from where I am, don't you? Yeah, you sure do. You don't know anything about Me." See it there? "I have not come of Myself, I'm come from Him whom you don't even know, but I know Him because He sent Me. You know Me. You don't know anything." They were sitting around saying, "Ah, we know You, You're from Nazareth. Ah, we know You."
"You don't know anything," He says. He was right, wasn't He? They had it all categorized...carpenter, Joseph, Mary, baby, Nazareth. You don't know anything. You know zero things about Me. So you think you know Me, huh?
Isn't that true of so many people? You present Jesus Christ...
Oh yeah, I know all about Jesus Christ, yeah.
Sure do, don't you? You don't know Him.
He was a...oh, I know who Jesus is.
No, you don't know who He is.
Well, I read about Him and I went to Sunday School.
Ah, you don't know who He is. So you know Him, huh? You don't know anything, Jesus says. You don't know anything. You super-spiritual, you pious, you looking for a vacancy in the Trinity, you super-self-glorified, you don't know anything. I tell you, Jesus Christ never got angry very many times, but every time He got angry He got angry over spiritual hypocrisy. Boy, He really got angry over that. He took those Pharisees on one occasion and absolutely tore them to shreds. "You whited sepulchers, you smell good on the outside, you stink on the inside. You're painted white but you're full of dead-men's bones, you big phonies." Boy, when He got angry, He got angry over the same things...spiritual hypocrisy.
Jesus says, "You don't know anything." Verse 28, "I didn't come here of Myself, I'm not riding My own ambition. I'm not operating on My own whims. I'm not in this thing for My own desire for self-glory. That ought to be obvious. There's a divine uniqueness to My coming that you haven't even begun to learn." And then He indicts them with the most conclusive, dynamic, devastating, thunderous indictment that He ever indicted them with, at the end of verse 28. "But He that sent Me is true...go to the next four words...whom ye know not."
Oh man, these people had spent their life reading the Old Testament. They prided themselves on the knowledge of God. He says, "You don't even know God." Didn't Jesus say, "No man cometh unto the Father...what?...but by Me?" You don't know Me, you don't know God.
People say, "Well, what about the heathens all around the world?" Peter said, "Neither is there salvation in any other name than the name of Jesus Christ." You don't know Him, you don't know God.
But people worship God. No they don't, they don't know who they're worshiping. You don't know Christ, you don't know God. And the tragedy of this is that they had all the things that could have truly revealed God to them, didn't they? That's the...that's the most tragic thing, to have all the Scripture, all the promise, all the covenants, all the adoption, as Paul says in Romans 9:5 there, all that you have and you don't know anything. Whew...and they had prided themselves on all their knowledge of the rules and the regulations. You know all the stuff, you just don't know God. What an indictment.
Now mark it well. To know a few minor external things about God is not to know God. And to know a few minor external things about Jesus is to know nothing. And double disaster if you have all the truth and still don't know anything. I'm sure God will deal in love and wisdom to those who have never really had the Scriptures, but to those who have it and don't know it, tremendous judgment because to whom much is given, much is required. In Hosea 4 Hosea qualified the whole problem in Israel in one sentence. "My people are destroyed for lack of...what?...knowledge." They just don't know anything.
Boy, we see it today. We live in a culture where Jesus is a byword. Everybody knows Jesus. But nobody knows Him. Bibles all over the place, and nobody knows what's in them. Churches everywhere, and people don't know God and they don't know Jesus. But before you condemn the world, just look at the church. You know what the curse of Christianity is today? One word...ignorance. That is the greatest curse that we face in Christianity, trying to educate ignorant Christians. They can't reproduce themselves cause they don't know what they are. They can't teach the Word of God cause they don't know what they believe. They can't give some help to somebody cause they don't know what the Bible teaches. We presented a series one time at the National Sunday School Convention on why young people drop out of church, and we came to the conclusion that one of the dominant factors is the fact that they get frustrated over the fact of ignorance, where a kid is brought to church all his life by mom and dad, and then a crisis comes in his life and he says, "Help me, dad or mom, what does the Bible say?" And the parents say, "I don't know, I've only been going to church for 25 years. But ask me what's on page 198 in the hymnal and I'll tell you it's 'Just as I am.'" And that's tragedy. That is tragedy.
We're ignorant. That's why it's almost a consuming passion with me to communicate the knowledge of the Word of God. The apostle Paul said in Romans 12:2, he said you can be transformed from the world by the renewing of...what?...your mind, just your brain, just learn the things of God. They'll take care of the emotion and the motivation if you just learn. Paul didn't say, "Timothy, go out and get excited. Go hear a super-challenging speaker." Paul said to Timothy, "Study...study...study to show yourself...what?...approved, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth." Ignorance is the curse of Christianity. I daresay our faith is based on a Trinity view of God, I daresay 90 percent of the people in the church if they were confronted by somebody and they said, "Show me two places in the Bible where the trinity is taught," couldn't give them one. Ask yourself. And yet you know when they knock on your door, brother, they know the ones that prove the Trinity doesn't exist to them. We don't even know what we believe. That's why it's to teach...to teach...to teach...to teach that matters.
So the church is ignorant, the world is ignorant. These were ignorant. Stood there in confusion. Remember what Paul said, "That I may...what?...know Him." Knowledge, knowledge, knowledge and God will transmit it into action.
All right, so we see the dense confusion. They're all standing there fumbling around not knowing what to do. Jesus has shouted at them. Said, "You don't know anything." They still haven't moved. They're frozen there. But they're about to move and the second problem is the problem of divided conviction, and we'll see these more quickly.
The problem of divided conviction, we've already seen the problem of dense confusion as the crowd stunned just kind of stands there trying to unravel what they've just been in. Now the problem of divided conviction is a greater problem to these Jewish leaders, this one really stumps them. Verse 30 to 32, now this is again the same thing. They've just been awaken. What woke them up? Jesus claiming to be from God again. That's the thing that always infuriated them. Everything was going good. As soon as He started saying, "You don't know God, but I know Him because He sent Me and I'm going back to Him."
Whoa...they just flew off their handles again. And so in verse 30 you read this, "Then they sought to take Him." They had had it. They had had it. That claim really got them. "But no man laid hands on Him because His hour was not yet come." Nobody touched Him. They never laid a hand on Him. And they were going to lay hands on Him, and it wasn't to ordain Him into the ministry. The irritated citizens of Jerusalem who had been passively against Jesus Christ and rather indifferent, all of a sudden became hostile. They were filled with the desire to get the authorities together and arrest this man who had exposed them and condemned them and of all things told them that they didn't know God. They were infuriated.
But I love the fact that that happened because you see the constant claims of Jesus Christ are a flowing stream of sweet words to the believer, but to the unbeliever the constant claims of Jesus Christ become maddening words. You don't just throw off Jesus lightly. He says, "Love Me, receive Me and go to heaven. Refuse Me and go to hell." That's either sweet to hear or it's very bitter. And if you hear it long enough, you're going to get mad or you're going to get saved. So in their infuriated, frustrated, confused hearts, they desire to arrest Him. But nobody touched Him. They didn't touch Him. They remembered, it's just not easy to handle this guy. Remember the last episode in the temple when He chased everybody out. Nobody touched Him.
But the real reason nobody touched Him was because, this is so beautiful, verse 30, "His hour was not yet come." His hour refers to the time of His death and He knew that the time of the arrest would be just before His death and it wasn't time. There was just an invisible shield, you know, plunk! Right in front of Him. See. God just said, "Sorry, can't touch Him, hands off. Not time yet." What a tremendous thing that is. Redemptive history is on schedule. Haven't we seen it in this chapter? It's on schedule. The sovereignty of God is in action. God's sovereignty says, "Not now, don't touch Him." And nobody touched Him. You know, that's a tremendous truth for you as a Christian to realize. Do you know that the restraining hand of God is on your enemies? Did you know that? Did you know that you're immortal until your time? That's right. What a tremendous truth. They sought to take Him, they couldn't touch Him. They thirsted for His blood, they were determined to kill Him but some invisible restraint held them back. Oh that's an exciting thing to realize. Do you know that not a hair of your head can be touched without the permission of God? Not a hair. You're immortal until your time.
Oh, God's decrees are invincible. Proverbs 21:30 says, "There is no wisdom, there is no understanding and there is no counsel against the Lord." Listen to this one, Proverbs 19:21, what a verse, "There are many devices in a man's heart...listen...nevertheless the counsel of the Lord that shall stand." Men can come up with all the devices they want and they'll never alter the counsel of the Lord one width. God had decreed that the Savior would be captured at a certain time and that He would be betrayed by a familiar friend for 30 pieces of silver. That's in the Old Testament. And that's the way it was going to happen, not by an unruly mob at the Feast of Tabernacles. There are still six months before it's going to happen.
I'll tell you, it's exciting to realize that you're immortal. The psalmist said in Psalm 91, "Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night nor for the arrow that flieth by day, nor for the pestilence that waketh at noonday. The destruction, the thousand shall fall at thy side, ten thousand at thy right hand, it shall not come nigh thee." Do you get the picture there? Thousands falling over the place and if you're not to die and it's not God's time, you'll be there when all the rest are gone. That's God's decree. Job said, "He has appointed His bounds on my days." That's the way it is. That's exciting. I'm immortal till God's time. I've been trying to convince my wife of that. She doesn't want to fly on a certain airplane. And I keep telling her, "Honey, you're immortal till God's time." She says, "I know but I still don't want to fly on that airplane." Trust God, the bounds of your time were set in eternity past before you were ever born. In God's time, only in His time.
That's tremendous comfort, isn't it? We're invincible and immortal till God's time. So was Jesus. Nobody could touch Him. But I said it was a divided conviction, didn't I? So look at verse 31. Most of them were trying to lay hands on Him, but here's a little group that's kind of interesting. "Many of the people believed on Him." Humph....how about that? Some of them had the germs of baby faith, simple faith was beginning to spring in their hearts and they said, "When Christ comes will He do more miracles than these which this man hath done?" And that again has the particle mein it. It's a no answer...no, the Messiah couldn't do anymore than He's done. Maybe this is the one.
Oh that's serious. You say, "Why?" You see the Jewish leaders, oh, men were in trouble. Not only have we been shut down, not only have we been ridiculed, not only have we had our character assassinated, not only has our ignorance been exposed, but now He's winning over some of the people and we're losing our hold. We're in trouble, men. See. They were getting panicky. They were getting panicky. While some of the people were being hardened and bittered, some of them were being softened and softened and softened. My dad always used to say it's the same sun that hardens the clay and melts the wax. Some of them were beginning to think maybe so and the rulers perceived this. Oh, verse 32, "The Pharisees heard that the people murmured such things concerning Him." We're in trouble. And the Pharisees and the chief priests sent officers, temple police, to take Him. The said, "Oh, we've got to get rid of this guy. It's bad enough we've had our character assassinated, now if this guy wins over a group of the people to us, we are...to Himself...we are really in trouble, we lose our hold over the people and, brother, we're in trouble." They were afraid.
Their ignorance had been blasted. Their wisdom had been blasted publicly. There sincerity had been attacked. Their religion was in question. Their intellectual abilities were in question. Their knowledge was in question. And now their power was in question. And so there was a division, divided conviction. And they were confused and then they were divided and it became worse.
I'm glad they were divided, you know that? That's the way Jesus always does, He said, "I came not to bring peace but...what?...a sword." In Matthew 10 He said, "I came to set a father against his mother...a brother against brother and sister and so forth and fraction the family if that's the way it has to be." Divided conviction.
So there they were. They were facing the problem of a dense confusion. The Jews were facing a problem of divided conviction. But lastly and very quickly, they faced the severest problem of all, the problem of delayed conversion. Verse 33, "Then said Jesus unto them," this is tragic, it almost makes me cry and did almost make me cry when I began to study this, "Then said Jesus unto them, 'Yet a little while am I with you and then I go unto Him that sent Me.'" Do you read any pathos into that? You know what He's saying? With sincerity and serenity and a majestic kind of a calm He just says, "Well, you won't have to put up with Me very long, I'll only be here just a little while and then I'll be out of your hair." See. Almost a pathetic thing.
I used to try and imagine something of the loneliness of Jesus Christ. If you could just imagine the most lonely moment you ever knew in your life and then magnify that lonely moment times infinity. Now you'll know the loneliness of Jesus Christ. All history had waited for the coming of the Son of God. He came and all He could say was, "Well, if you could just put up with Me for a little while, I'll get out of your way." Tragic...tragic. All they could see in the Son of God was somebody to get rid of. And He says, "Well it will only be till next April and I'll be out of your way." Tragic. He came unto His own and His own received Him not. And all the world could do was want to get rid of Him. That is really tragic. Such pathos.
But His story was always sorrow, always sorrow. But He says, "Some day I'm going to go back when My job's done." Then comes the tragedy of delayed conversion, verse 34. Shocking words, listen to them. "Ye shall seek Me and...what?...shall not find Me and where I am there ye cannot come." Boy, that is really shocking. Jesus says there will come a time you'll want Me and you won't find Me. What's He saying? He's saying exactly what Isaiah said when he said, "Seek the Lord while He...what?...may be found. Call upon Him while He's near." Don't delay. Harden not your hearts as in the day of provocation. Always remember Moody's sermon, he preached a sermon and said when he was just young, he preached and he said, "I want all of you to go home and think about Jesus Christ and come back tomorrow ready to make a decision." That night the Chicago fire broke out in that same area and 50 percent of his congregation went up in smoke. He said that's the last time I ever told anybody to go home and think about it. Don't delay, delayed conversion, the greatest tragedy of all because there may come a day when you'll seek Him and not find Him.
This is serious. Those Jews, they can't see it. Do you know what happened? They reacted in mockery, verse 35 and 36. This is all sarcasm. "Then said the Jews among themselves, 'Where will He go that we can't find Him? What is this?'" See. "Will He go to the dispersed among the Greeks? He didn't make it in Jerusalem, maybe He'll try the scattered Jews?" See. "Or maybe He'll even go so far as to teach the Gentiles. What manner of saying is this, that He said you shall seek Me and shall not find Me and where I am you can't come? Who's He kidding? Who does He think He is?"
Sick, faithless fools, you have mocked the Son of God. Oh blasphemous mouths, in their stupid ignorance, in their Christless words unwittingly they had prophesied the church. Do you see it? For where did Jesus go when Jerusalem refused Him? He went to the scattered and to the Gentiles, did He not? And He built His church. And so does God again make the wrath of men to praise Him. Spewing out their mockeries they have prophesied the truth. That's exactly what He did.
And so, they stand there confused, divided in their conviction, delaying their conversion until it is tragically too late, mocking the Son of God. So Jesus presents Himself. You've heard His claims. What do you decide? If you're confused, there's no excuse for it. If you're conviction is divided and you don't just quite know, the Word of God reveals the truth, either believe it or you can refuse it. But whatever you do, don't delay your conversion because there may come a time when you too will seek Him and you shall not find Him.
Father, we thank You this morning for Your Word. Thank You for teaching us again who the blessed sweet person of Jesus Christ is. God, You just know our grieved hearts. We don't understand how people can say no to Jesus Christ. We don't understand how the loveliness of His person does not draw them. God, we understand something of the measure of dense confusion. God, I pray this morning if there are confused people that the Spirit of God will open their minds. If there is divided conviction that there might be understanding. Father, that there will be no delayed conversion, no one will put off Jesus Christ into some convenient nevermore, but that today might be the day of salvation for some. To this end we pray in Christ's name. Amen.