I'd like to direct your attention today to John, chapter 7. We're continuing our walk through this Gospel, looking at The Word Became Flesh, looking in these last few weeks at Jesus' defense of who He is. His witness, His claim to Messiah-ship is being challenged. Today, we see that taken to yet another level as Jesus is being confronted by the authorities, and we see some…I guess you would say…those on the sidelines, their comments being recorded in the Holy Scriptures for us today.
And as I studied this and looked at it this week, the image, the thought that came to my mind that I see expressed in the words of those who are mentioned in our text today is a wall. I think a wall gets put up in our lives as people. There is a barrier; there is a place where we cannot see the truth the gospel has for us. We're unable to follow the will of God. We don't see Christ as a Savior. We don't answer the call to follow Him because of a wall in whatever form it may take.
We see several examples of that in our text today of people who are there in that unique moment in history with the Messiah right before them, speaking before them…wisdom that is beyond any they've ever heard…speaking with authority, performing signs and wonders before them, and the word of that circling all throughout Jerusalem and indeed all throughout the land of Israel.
Yet, why is it some could not see the Christ who was performing the signs, who was speaking the wisdom, who was everything Scripture had expressed the Messiah would be? Why is it they can't see Him? Why is it there are those today who, despite the presence of God, despite His presence in our worship, in our praise, despite His presence in the answers to the prayers of God's people today, why is it there is a wall it seems that keeps people from seeing Christ, from seeing His will, His purpose, from getting past this head knowledge of who Jesus is and being transformed into Christ-likeness? What is it that stops us so often?
Well, we see some examples of that in the text today in John, chapter 7, beginning in verse 25. I want us as we look at the wall and…what are you waiting for? What is it that is keeping you from stepping forward to claim Christ as your Savior? What is it that is keeping you from stepping forward and boldly living the Christian life you have claimed at least in word, but not in deed? What is it that keeps you from fully trusting Him, from wanting to make Him the priority of your life? Let's see if some of these examples do not speak to our hearts today, wherever it is we may find ourselves.
It tells us in John 7 and verse 25, "Now some of them from Jerusalem said, 'Is this not He whom they seek to kill? But look! He speaks boldly, and they say nothing to Him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is truly the Christ?'" Well, we get a little insight here on those who are gathered as the authorities are seeking Christ. We find Christ here boldly teaching out in public in Jerusalem, there in the Temple area. And these people on the sideline are questioning the scene they see.
It says, "some of them from Jerusalem." Now, these are those who live in the religious capital, who are as orthodox as you're going to get, are those in Jerusalem. They're the ones who hear first from the rabbis, and they hear from the top rabbis, the top teachers, the Gamaliels, those who run the rabbinical schools. These are the people in the capital city, if you will, especially of their religion.
And what we notice about them is there is a wall that is erected; a wall that is keeping them from seeing Christ as the Messiah. Now, these are religious people living in the hotbed of Judaism, and yet they cannot see the Christ of the very Scriptures they claim. And what we notice about them is that there is one wall that often holds a person back, and it is the wall of spiritual co-dependence. And that is what we see with these.
Notice that they are wondering what the authorities think. "Is this not He whom they seek to kill? But look! He speaks boldly, and they say nothing to Him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is truly the Christ?" They're not saying, "Well, maybe they believe He is the Christ." What they're really saying is, "I wonder what they believe? I don't want to fall for anything the rulers tell me not to fall for. I'm not willing to believe and take that step myself without this person I'm dependent on taking that step first." They're a people who are very involved in religion, but they were looking to the Jewish authorities to determine their own views.
And God, over and over again…let me just share with you in Scripture…He makes the decision to follow Him, the decision to receive Him, a personal decision. We talk about making a personal decision. A decision your parents cannot make for you; your preacher cannot make for you; your friends cannot make for you. It's a personal decision. And one of the walls that keeps you from stepping forward and making that personal decision is your dependence on the religion of someone else, your dependence on the views of someone else.
Now, it's great to get advice. It's great to seek wisdom. The Bible tells us to do that, but the decision is ours to make. And when we depend on someone else, when we depend on our religious family to make all the religious decisions in our lives, when we depend on our friends to determine what we're going to believe or not believe, we're living with a wall right in front of us.
I'm afraid there are so many today who are like these Jews were. They were afraid to act on their own conviction. They were afraid to act on what they themselves were witnessing, and so instead, they were deferring it to someone else.
Now, I tell you, you may be here today, and the Lord may be gripping your heart. He may want you to follow Him. He may want you to change a job and choose a ministry. He may want you to break away from the damaging relationships you've been involved in with friends or others. He may want you to hear the call to accept Him as your Savior...whatever it might be in life, yet you're afraid to make that decision.
You're just like these Jews. You're looking to someone else. "I wonder what my friend would do..." Or, I've seen this all my life. I've seen one person come forward, and then their friends would come forward. They're coming forward because that one person came forward, not because there was a genuine decision to make. Of course, it didn't last. And I wonder sometimes if we don't act that way?
We look to someone else when God is speaking to us. We defer our glance over to the side when the Lord is right in front of us, speaking with such authority, performing the answers to prayers in life, and yet we're afraid of our own ability to make that decision, to trust Him, and to follow Him.
That may be a wall that is there today. If you're looking to others and their reaction to make your decision about following Christ, if the Lord is asking you to step out for Him, and your mind is flooded with…What will this person or what will this group think? What would this other person…Why haven't they made that same decision? Maybe I need to wait and see…you may be just like these that have that wall.
I tell you, there is another wall that comes up as well, and it's in the very next verse. In verse 27, they continued their discussion, these Jews. And they say, "However, we know where this Man is from; but when the Christ comes, no one knows where He is from." You see, these same Jews who were wondering what the authorities stated now have moved on to another actual wall that stands between so many people and what God wants them to do, and I call it the wall of popular theology.
Theology is simply the study of God. And this world has no shortage of views about how God ought to act, what God ought to do, how He ought to respond. And it becomes a theology in that you decide whether God is speaking to your heart, whether God is leading, based on a popular notion of…Well, if God was speaking to me, then such and such would happen. It would look such and such a way.
Now, they had a popular teaching the rabbis had taught for decades…When the Messiah came, He would come out of nowhere. He would just suddenly appear on the scene. Now, they were partially correct at that, but the reason they were confused is that they were taking prophecies of both the first and the second coming. My friends, when Christ comes back…Scriptures are very clear to us…we understand He will appear suddenly. And the Old Testament prophecies of that had caused some rabbis to be confused and to teach that we would never know who the Messiah was until suddenly He appeared. And they say, "Well, we know where this guy came from. We know his family in Nazareth. So, based on that, he can't be, can he?"
They had a wrong theology, and as such, the truth that was speaking right in front of them got filtered through that misunderstanding, and that is what happens with us. We have predetermined notions of how God has to operate, and so, when the truth comes into our heart, when it is spoken to us, witnessed to us, demonstrated before us, the wall causes us not to see the truth because we're filtering it through some popular notion we have about God.
It may be that I'm waiting for God to audibly speak to me. I'm waiting for the lightning to strike, and if the lightning strikes, and if I see it written in the sky, then I'll know it's God because the movies tell us, popular theology tells us, that is how the supernatural operates. So, we expect God to operate based on the popular theology we have about God. How many times have we heard, "What kind of God would let this happen to that family? What kind of God would let such a tragedy take place in that community?" And we filter the events happening around us by the popular notions about God.
You may be here today, and you may have even out of whole cloth…in other words, just completely made it up…had a notion that if God is going to lead me, it's going to have to be in this order, it's going to have to look like this, it's going to have to be in these steps that I understand…because you see God in the popular way, a God who is trying every trick possible to get your attention, a God who is not the Sovereign King of the universe, not holy and separate, but a God who is sitting there, and He's trying to show you in your terms how things ought to operate. And so, you respond in that way.
Their popular theology was wrong. It had caused them to view God's leading in a misunderstanding, in a filter that was wrong for them. You know, if you have wrong views about Scripture, if you have wrong views about Christ, it is going to filter the truth when it comes. It is going to keep you from following God, following after God. You may be waiting for God to act in a way you would act if you were God rather than trusting Him with your life.
It says in verse 28, "Then Jesus cried out, as He taught in the temple." And that cry is the word krazo in the Greek. It's the word for this very loud declaration, this very loud cry. And it says in 28, "Then Jesus cried out, as He taught in the temple, saying, 'You both know Me, and you know where I am from; and I have not come of Myself, but He who sent Me is true, whom you do not know. But I know Him, for I am from Him, and He sent Me.'"
Now, notice what Jesus is saying here. They're saying, "This person can't be the Messiah because we know who he is." Jesus says, "Well, you both know Me, and you know where I am from, and I have not come of Myself. But you don't know that because you don't know God. I am from Him. I do know Him," verse 29, "for I am from Him, and He sent Me."
Another wall that keeps us from understanding God's purpose and plan for our lives is the wall of speaking for God when God is really not speaking. The problem with making up your own theology is that God is not in it. Sometimes, we will attach to God something He did not say. We will give His name to something He has no part of. We'll say that this is the way God would have us to respond, this is how God acts, when it's not the way God acts.
Jesus is saying, "You don't know. You think you know how God would respond, but the problem is you don't know God." We cannot know His plans unless we know Him. To know His plans we have to know Him. The wall that may be in front of you is that you're trying to live a godly live, you're trying to keep yourself clean and pure, and your good outweigh your bad, you're trying to be a good boy and a good girl, but you don't know Him. And you cannot know His plan for you, His purpose for you, and what He desires of you until you know Him. You have to know Him first.
So, Jesus cries out. This is such an important thing He wants to share with them. "You don't know Me. You think that you know I'm from Nazareth, but I'm really from the Father, and you would know that if you knew the Father. But since you don't, you're making decisions with that wall in front of you."
My friends, before you make a lot of judgments about God's people, about God's churches, about Christianity, and about hypocrisy, and about all of these reasons that you are putting up on why you don't want to be a part of this, or you don't want to have anything to do with that, before you determine how God's people ought to look, ought to act, how His church ought to function, how it ought to look, how life ought to be, you first have to know God yourself. You have to have a personal relationship with Him before you can ever know how God looks in the lives and actions of other people. You have to know Him first.
Jesus said in 29, "I know Him. The difference between Me and you is I know Him." The difference between the Christian and the skeptic is the Christian knows Him, and that makes all the difference. There is a wall that will keep the skeptic from ever seeing the truth until he knows God, until he meets the Savior.
Verse 30 says, "Therefore they sought to take Him." Why? Because He said, "I know Him. I am from Him." He once again makes that claim they saw as blasphemous that He was from God, that He was equal with God. "Therefore they sought to take Him; but no one laid a hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come. And many of the people believed in Him." You see, not everybody had that wall. There were those there who didn't use those pretensions, who didn't use those excuses, who weren't limited by their views and by their own theologies. There were many of the people who believed in Him.
And what they said simply was, "When the Christ comes, will He do more signs than these which this Man has done?" In other words, it's obvious if you'll remove the walls and the limitations, and quit looking at other people, quit depending on some popular notions, quit saying that God said something He never said, or attaching His name and His character to something that really is not of His, and look at what the conviction is right before you, you'll say, "What other evidence do I need? What other proof do I need? If I need other proof, I'm simply using popular theology. I'm letting the world define this for me. I'm letting somebody on TV set the standards for me, and I'm losing out on eternity as a result."
So many said, "I don't need any more proof. He has shown Himself. What man could do more than what this one has done?" But as they say that, and as that spreads, and as there are many who believe, the Pharisees pick up on it, and we see another wall. Verse 32. "The Pharisees heard the crowd murmuring these things concerning Him, and the Pharisees and the chief priests sent officers to take Him."
The Pharisees exhibit another wall, and it's probably the most common of all. When they're asked, "What are you waiting for?" sometimes it's the wall of pride. These Pharisees saw they might lose some people. They saw they might lose some count to those who were under their influence. They saw their reputation, their standing, was being damaged in their view. They could not see the Messiah they always preached about, they were always praying for. What they saw was their pride being damaged.
I'll tell you, that has to be close to the number one reason why so many people hesitate at following God's calling for their life. It's personal pride. John tells us over in 1 John that the boastful pride of life is one of the roots of sin. And it acts in such an insidious manner that we will not come forward and pray because of what other people might think. We won't make a decision for Christ because of what other people might think. We won't surrender to His will because it might make us look weaker. We let pride…how we look, how we think, how we are perceived…to make so many decisions. It's a huge wall! I think it has to be one of the biggest walls that keeps us from surrendering to God.
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