Tuesday, March 13, 2012

John 7:14-36

I’m making a confession here! When I read this passage yesterday morning, I could not get excited about it. I dug in, however, but got to the point where I knew I couldn’t go forward. It was time to rely on the Holy Spirit big time! John tells us at the end of his gospel that there were MANY other things which Jesus did that John did not include. In fact he wrote, “If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” (John 21:25) And in John 20:31 he wrote, “These were written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

Therefore, whatever John included in his gospel, he did with this purpose in mind. So, as I reflected on that yesterday afternoon (having given up in the morning), I decided that John included this passage in chapter 7 to show us the build up of the opposition of the religious leaders to Jesus. Because there are people who deny that Jesus claimed to be God, it is really important that we see exactly what it was that lead to his death. They did not crucify people who just claimed to be teachers. Nor did they crucify someone for working on the Sabbath. So what was is that got the religious leaders’ panties in a twist to the point that they HATED Jesus and plotted to KILL him. John will show us how this animosity increased. With that in mind, let’s now look at today’s verses.

Not until halfway through the Feast did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach. The Jews were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having studied?” (John 7:14-15)

According to Jon Courson, at the time Jesus lived there were more than 30 seminaries in Jerusalem, and Jesus had not attended any of them. The crowds marveled that He was such a great teacher without any formal training. Jesus didn’t need training in the Word, because He IS the Word! In the verses that follow this passage Jesus affirmed that His teaching came from God, and that if anyone were willing to do God’s will, they would understand that (we saw in John 6:28-29 that the will of God is that we believe in His Son). Instead, they were seeking to kill him ostensibly because he had healed the lame man on the Sabbath.  However, the real hatred arose from His claim that God was His Father (John 5:18).

Jesus said to them, “I did one miracle, and you are all astonished. Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a child on the Sabbath. Now if a child can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing the whole man on the Sabbath? Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.” (verses 21-24)

Basically Jesus pointed their hypocrisy, saying, in essence, “You are fine with causing pain to a newborn on the Sabbath, but you are upset that I healed a man and made him whole on the Sabbath!” In the rest of this passage the people debated among themselves about whether or not Jesus could be the Christ.

At that point some of the people of Jerusalem began to ask, “Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill? Here he is, speaking publicly, and they are not saying a word to him. Have the authorities really concluded that he is the Christ? But we know where this man is from; when the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from”... many in the crowd put their faith in him. They said, “When the Christ comes, will he do more miraculous signs than this man?” (vs. 25-27,31)

There was great confusion among the people in Jerusalem. Some were looking to their religious leaders to make a judgment about Jesus, others were convinced by His miracles. This upset the Pharisees. They did not want their power usurped. So they sent the temple guards to arrest Jesus (vs.32). Again, Jesus stirs controversy wherever He shows up! It’s clear from this passage that feelings about Jesus were strong. The people understood that knowing His true identity mattered - whether or not He was the Christ had major implications. The Pharisees understood that, as well, but it’s revealing that they were not interested in getting at the truth if it led to a lessening of their own authority.

We, too, all have to come to a decision about Jesus’ identity. And we instinctively know that the ramifications of our decision will be huge. Making that leap of faith is a scary thing! We know that if we decide that He is, indeed, the Christ, the Son of God, our lives will be forever changed. For some, unfortunately, that is asking too much...


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