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Saturday, August 27, 2016

Christ at Tabernacles, Part 5 (Light of the World)

Christ at Tabernacles, Part 5
(Light of the World)
John 8:12-20

As we’ve gone through the 7th and now the 8th chapter of John… we’ve gained a lot of information concerning the feast of Tabernacles.  We know that Jesus didn’t want to arrive into Jerusalem with a large “entourage” in tow… because He knew that the Jews were anxious to arrest… and kill Him.

So, after sending his brothers (and disciples) on ahead… Jesus left Galilee for the last time… and went to Jerusalem on His own… Joh 7:10 KJV  …as it were in secret.

When He comes into Jerusalem… it appears that He lays low for a few days… probably enjoying the crowds and each day’s activities… because we don’t have a record of Him doing anything there until somewhere in the middle of the week when He boldly enters the Temple and begins teaching.

When some of the people began questioning Him about His education and authority… He let them know that His origins were from God. 

And some among the people were so incensed with this declaration that they tried to take Him… presumably to the authorities for judgment… but they were divinely prevented because… Joh 7:30 KJV  … his hour was not yet come.

Now this won’t be the last time we’ll read those words… because our passage today ends with the exact same statement… Joh 8:20 KJV  … and no man laid hands on him; for his hour was not yet come.

All the plans and intentions of “mice and men” don’t make even a scratch in the Father’s plan.  Try as Satan might… he had no power or authority to bring about the capture or the destruction of the Son of God… before the time!

Those men who had heard Christ’s words and were so angered by them… were just as ineffective in “taking” Jesus before His time… as Pilate was in securing His release when once His time had arrived.

The Father’s plan for the salvation of men would proceed right along… according to His time schedule and predetermined counsel… and nothing in the universe would either rush it… or delay it.

We also discovered that of all the festivals given by God to the Israelites on Mt Sinai… this particular festival was the most loved by the people.  It was a festival that commemorated the wanderings in the wilderness… and it was filled with meaningful and symbolic ceremonies…

Ceremonies such as the Water Libation ceremony where the priests would pour water out at the altar each day… commemorating the water that Moses drew from the rock…

Then each evening there was a Candle Lighting ceremony.  On either side of the Temple… in the court of Women… there stood two huge golden candelabrums… on which hung a multitude of lamps that would be lighted after the evening sacrifices.

On the first night… and then on each succeeding night of the festival these were lit, and they would pour out such a brilliant flood of light… that the Temple and the surrounding city would be illuminated.  The people would dance around them, and the Temple musicians and choir would play and sing.

These candelabrums symbolized the presence of God, leading His people through the wilderness, in a pillar of cloud during the day… and a pillar of fire at night.

Now… in this 8th chapter… we’re also in the 8th day.  The festival is effectively over.  The shelters that had been erected for the festival were either taken down… or still in the process.  The ceremonies were done… The waters from the pool of Siloam aren’t poured out anymore.  The candles aren’t lit to illuminate the night sky any longer.  The crowds are leaving…

And it’s probably in this gap that remains… the void that’s felt by everyone --similar to the void we feel today after Christmas… and while still in the Court of Women… which was also where the “treasury” was located… and after dealing with the interruption by some Scribes, Pharisees and the adulterous woman… that Jesus turns His attention once again to those He had been teaching…  And we see…

I. The Light Revealed

Joh 8:12-20 KJV  Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

The people had just spent every day of the previous week being reminded of the wilderness wanderings… the water from the rock… and the pillar of cloud by day… and pillar of fire by night…

That light, which led the children of Israel for 40 years… was no ordinary light.  It provided guidance in their wanderings… comfort through the knowledge that God was among them… and protection from enemies.

It was an event that was unlike anything in human history.  The only parallel to it that I can think of… might be when God walked and communed with Adam & Eve in the garden.  For 40 years… God was visibly dwelling with His people…

So, undoubtedly, part of their daily readings during this feast that commemorated those wilderness wanderings, also included… Exo 13:21 KJV  And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night:

Now… we have other examples in recorded history of large groups of people… whether they be in caravans or armies… being directed in their travels in a similar fashion.

For instance… in the case of an army… a pole would be set up in front of the Commander’s tent which would have a pot of fire suspended from it so that its light would be visible at night… and its smoke by day.

When marching… this pole and firepot would be carried at the head of the column… and the direction taken… would be clearly seen by all who followed… Especially if great distances and level tracts of land were involved…

But what distinguished the Israelites from all others was that the Lord, Yahweh Himself, was in that fire and in that cloud.  Yahweh dictated the path and direction they would go. 

The Israelite’s wandering in the wilderness for 40 years was controlled and ordered by God.  They had no idea one day after another which direction they’d take.  They simply followed the Lord.

And that beacon of fire was unaffected by weather patterns, or atmospheric influences.  There was no storm that would put it out… no amount of desert heat would quench it.  It continued to give uninterrupted guidance and never altered its shape or became unrecognizable to the people.

That cloud by day… and fire by night brought unimaginable strength and comfort to all who were led by it…

God led His people through new territory.  There was no road map to follow and every time they “struck camp” to move to someplace else… they would walk across ground that was both new… and unknown to them.

And so He leads us even today.  Those who keep their eyes on the “light of the world” and walk with Him… will never walk in darkness.  They won’t trip over unseen and hidden obstacles… because their path is clearly lit.

This isn’t to say that the follower of Christ won’t ever stumble or even fall… but it does mean that the one who does… does so either through ignorance, or because they’ve closed their eyes momentarily to the light that He provides.  And folks… even in the brightest of day… if your eyes are closed… you will stumble over obstacles that others clearly see.

And when we aren’t sure of the direction we’re to take… or maybe we’re concerned that the path we’re on is going the wrong way… we can rest in the same comfort that the Israelites did, in the knowledge that God has given us a “cloud”, and a “fire” to follow… that lights the path before us.

And we read about it in… Psa 119:105 KJV  Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

God’s Word is the “light” that illuminates the path before us

And where the Israelites had that “external” light to follow in their journeys we have the advantage in that our light is both “external” in the written Word of God… and “internal” because we… Joh 8:12-20 KJV  … shall have the light of life.

Through faith in Christ… His light dwells within us… but it also emanates from within to illuminate the life of Christ to everyone around us.  Just like the song that Rita mentioned last week in her scripture reading… “This little light of mine”… The light shines through us for others to see. 

Hide it under a bushel—NO!  I’m gonna let it shine!  So just like those “rivers of living water”, that bubble up within us to splash on everyone who comes near… this “light of life”… also shines out of us… and it reveals… Col 1:27 KJV  …Christ in you, the hope of glory:

But… not only does light illuminate and reveal… it also blinds

II. The Light Rejected

Joh 8:13-18 KJV  The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true.  (14)  Jesus answered and said unto them, Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go.  (15)  Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man.  (16)  And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.  (17)  It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true.  (18)  I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me. 

The Jews hated Jesus so much that they oppose Him at every turn.  In their minds… every word He say’s is suspect.  After making the bold claim of being the “light of the world” (which is now the second “I Am” statement Jesus has made in this book), they try to dismiss His claim by using a legal technicality.

Remember last week… when we talked about how God had given the Jews a law requiring multiple witnesses.  For instance… we read in…

Deu 19:15 KJV  One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.

The Pharisees use this very law against Jesus… saying that because He makes this claim without any other witnesses who’ll verify what He say… then what He says has to be false.  So therefore… they reject what He says as truth.

There are some problems with this reasoning.  The first I want to point out is that the law of witnesses… wherever we read of it in the OT… the vast majority of times it is referring to “legal” proceeding, but especially… “capital” cases which will involved the execution of the offender.  With the potential for such a harsh judgment… it makes great sense to have more than one witness.

The next problem is that by using this law in this fashion… they’re implying that every statement must be corroborated by someone else.  The very idea that Jesus couldn’t make a statement independent of witnesses to verify what He says… is ludicrous.  It’d be like me saying, “I’m hungry”… but that statement can’t be taken as true, without someone else saying, “Yeah!  Terry is hungry.”

We’ve also seen in the 5th chapter where He’s already addressed this issue anyway.   After He healed the paralytic man at the pool of Bethesda… He told these Jews many of them probably the same ones as now… that He had 4 witnesses to His truthfulness.  John the Baptist, His works, the Father and the Scriptures.

But this time, He approaches their rejection a little differently.  He flat out tells them that even if He did bear witness of Himself… His witness is true.  They may have thought that they knew all about Him… but they really didn’t know Him at all.

But He is intimately aware of who He is, and He knew where He came from and where He was goingHe is the Messiah of God… the second person of the trinity… who came from the father… and would soon be returning to Him.  He is Lord… and as the Lord… there are things that only He can attest to, and He is perfectly capable of speaking truth in and of Himself because He is Truth personified.

However… since they aren’t capable of hearing this truth… or seeing past their blind hatred… He condescends to conform to their standard of human testimony, and again tell them that

Joh 8:18 KJV  I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me. 

It’s not just me… My Father also bears witness that what I say is truth… because I only say and do what my Father shown me.  He has already given testimony of me at my baptism when He said… Mat 3:17 KJV  …This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

And at my transfiguration when He said… Mar 9:7 KJV  … This is my beloved Son: hear him.

And, He still bears witness to Me through the miracles I do.

And just as the wicked do in all generations… if they can’t win their argument with words and reason… they will always resort to ridicule.

III. The Light Ridiculed

Joh 8:19-20 KJV  Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also.  (20)  These words spake Jesus in the treasury, as he taught in the temple: and no man laid hands on him; for his hour was not yet come.

It is impossible to communicate with anyone who isn’t in a place where they will hear or understand.  We build walls, don’t we?  And we think they’re designed to keep us safe.  That they will protect and shelter us from all the evil this world can throw at us.

But, a wall which keeps the bad out… can also keep the good out.  This analogy of the walls that we build… goes right along with that old saying that… “There is none so blind as he who will not see.” 

The Jewish hatred of Christ caused them to retreat behind their walls and refuse to see, and honestly deal with, what was right in front of them.  I can almost visualize them putting their fingers in their ears and exclaiming “Na, na, na, na”… in a physical effort to NOT hear something they don’t want to hear.

To this very day… when the faulty arguments and the false reasoning of evil people fails… they will inevitably resort to ridicule, in their effort to “marginalize” an opponent.

And this is exactly what the Jews were doing with Jesus when they asked… Joh 8:19 KJV  Where is thy Father?

The fact that they ask “where” not “who” indicates to us that they knew that He was speaking of God as His Father… So they made light of His virgin birth, by inferring that His wasn’t a miraculous conception… but an illicit one.

They probably looked around… as if to see if someone would step forward.  Joh 8:19 KJV  Where is thy Father?

But Jesus, with infinite wisdom and dignity… refusing to be baited… instead let them know that though they thought they knew Him… they didn’t know Him at all.

Had they truly known who Jesus was… they would have known the Father as well.  Joh 8:19c KJV  … if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also.

You can’t have one, without the other.  If you don’t know one… you don’t know the other either.  Deny one… you deny both.  And this is exactly what they were doing… denying the Son… thereby denying the Father.

*  *  *  *  *
We deny the Son in many ways.  We deny Him when we don’t believe in Him for our salvation.  We deny Him when we don’t follow Him as we should, when we’re not obedient, when instead of speaking up…we’re quiet.

He has told us that He is the “light of the world” and that everyone who follows Him won’t walk in darkness… but that they’ll have the “light of life” emanating from them… providing light to others.

Do you know that this truth is operating through you right now?  Have you trusted in Christ for your salvation?  Have you been obedient to His commands and been baptized by being fully immersed in the water?

Do you speak up for Christ… and display the “light of life” to the people you come in contact with?

If you’re lacking in any of these areas… you can turn that around today.  In a moment we’ll be closing in prayer and we’ll have a time of invitation.  You can come forward and declare your faith in Christ publicly…

You can recommit your life to follow Him faithfully…

Or maybe you’re wanting to join with this fellowship of believers and have this become your church home…

It all begins with that first step out into the aisle.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Christ at Tabernacles, Part 4 (The Adulterous Woman)

Christ at Tabernacles, Part 4
The Adulterous Woman
John 8:1-11

I love the Bible.  I love reading the Bible.  I love getting into in-depth studies of the Bible.  I love talking about the Bible.  And, I love just thinking about the Bible.

I love the Bible so much that I can’t even begin to tell you how many Bibles I have.  I can tell you what translations I don’t have… but the number of Bibles?  Nope.  I’ve got no idea.

I love the Bible.  It’s God’s Word to mankind… and it tells me everything I need to know in regards to faith and practice.  What that means is that it tells me what I am to believe… and how I am to act.

When reading the Bible… I’m immediately struck with the naturalness of the flow… and its cohesiveness.  Though it’s made up of 66 books… it’s clearly one Book… one Thought… one Overall Message…

And its because I’ve heard it’s message… and I’ve received it into my very soul… there’s nothing that can convince me that this is not God’s Word to Mankind… and it upsets me especially when people of faith begin to tear it down… bringing into question it’s inspiration and truthfulness.

There are those who read the Bible in faith that this is God’s Word… And then there are those who read the Bible with an underlying goal of determining whether this word… or that verse… or this whole passage… is in fact God’s Word… or something that was just added by some ancient Scribe.

Our text today… John 7:53-8:11 is one of those passages that many “Biblical Scholars” have brought into question.  They admit that this is a true event in Jesus’ life and ministry…  There is extra-biblical evidence mentioning it from some 1st century writings and sermons.  However, many do question whether John is actually the author… and some even question its placement here, in the 8th chapter of John… rather than somewhere else in another gospel.

Personally… I don’t have the slightest doubt that this event actually happened to Jesus, and that it does form a part of the inspired Word of God. 

And I don’t think that anyone who is led by the Spirit of God needs to waste a lot of valuable time trying to discover whether or not this portion of the Bible is really part of God’s own Word.

Here it is… right here in black, white and red.  It fits so well… exactly where it is.  It’s part of that “cohesive” flow I mentioned earlier.  It follows right along with the rest of John’s gospel where he writes of an event or an incident which serves to introduce or illustrate a teaching of Jesus’ right after it.

For example… in chapter 3, Jesus had an encounter with Nicodemus which led into His sermon about being “born again”.  In the 4th chapter we have the woman at the well encounter… which introduces His teaching on “living water”.

In the 5th chapter… Jesus heals the impotent man at the pool of Bethesda which leads into His sermon on His equality with God.  The 6th chapter opens with feeding the 5,000… and His sermon on being the “Bread of Life”…

And now… here in the 8th chapter we have the event of the woman who was caught in adultery… which will lead us next week into His sermon on being the “Light of the World”.

So… this passage… right where it is… fits in perfectly with the rest of John’s gospel that we’ve gone through so far.  But there’s one other thing I want to point out.

If John 7:53-8:11 were taken out of the scripture… the new flow wouldn’t flow at all.  It would give a “choppy” feeling and would make you think something was left out.

Here is the way it’d read without our passage…

Joh 7:52;8:12 KJV  They answered and said unto him, Art thou also of Galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet.  …  (12)  Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

In verse 52 Jesus isn’t even in the room.  This is Nicodemus and the religious leaders.  Then all of a sudden… it transitions to Jesus once again.  Something is missing…

And that something is our passage today!  And we’ll begin by reading our first 3 verses…

Joh 7:53-8:2 KJV  And every man went unto his own house.  (8:1)  Jesus went unto the mount of Olives.  (2)  And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.

Now remember… Jesus is still in Jerusalem at the Feast of Tabernacles.  The 7th chapter ends with Nicodemus and all of the religious leaders arguing about what to do with Jesus…  And because Nicodemus reminds them of the law… he effectively ends the discussion and everyone leaves, and goes to their own homes…

It’s my belief that this ended the 7th day of the Feast.  If this is so… then it would explain why Jesus went to the Mount of Olives for the night.  The shelters that had been erected for the Feast were probably in the process of being torn down…

It’s also possible that after His teaching in the temple and being confronted by so many in the previous days… He needed to spend some time alone with His Father… which He frequently did… and which we all should use as an example for our own lives. 

If the Lord intentionally took time daily to be with His Father… why are we so haphazard in our approach to God?  Following His example… we should not only covet daily time with the Lord… but we should be very intentional in it… not allowing anything to interfere with it!

And that Jesus spent the night on the mount of Olives also brings home something that He had said elsewhere…  Mat 8:20 KJV  …The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

He who was rich… became poor for our sakes.  He had no earthly home of His own… but He would soon return to His heavenly home in order to prepare a place for us there!

So… after a night on the mount… He returned to the temple to teach… and it wasn’t long before He was faced with a question about…

I. The Penalty of Sin

Joh 8:2-6a KJV  And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.  (3)  And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,  (4)  They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.  (5)  Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?  (6)  This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him…

The religious leaders had sent the temple guard to arrest Jesus the day before.  When the guard returned without Jesus, they unashamedly confessed that their failure was because… Joh 7:46b KJV  … Never man spake like this man.

So because that plan failed… they came up with another one… One that they were sure would impale Him on the horns of a dilemma…

And take notice of the wickedness that’s on display in these “religious” men!  The cold-blooded calculations behind their evil intent is clearly seen when they bring this adulterous woman before Christ.

Why bring her to Him?  He wasn’t one of the magistrates.  He wasn’t one of the judges of the land.  It’s obvious that they didn’t care as much about her sin as they did about using her as a pawn in their game against Him

They weren’t grieved that God’s holy law had been broken.  They only wanted to trap Jesus in what they thought was a no-win situation for Him and discredit Him in front of the people!

Even though the law was absolutely clear that she should be stoned for her sin… and of that there can be no doubt…

Lev 20:10 KJV  And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.

Their intent is clear for all to see when they ask… Joh 8:5b  …but what sayest thou?

According to the law… the penalty for this sin is death… but if Jesus said, “Let her go”… then they would be able to accuse Him of going against the law of God… even though by this time in Jewish history… very few people were killed for adultery any longer.  Instead of death… they’d take away her dowry… and she’d be divorced… or both.

And besides… Rome had taken death sentences away from the Jews… and because of their own licentious lifestyle… Rome very seldom approved death sentences for adultery or any other sexual sin for that matter.

But if on the other hand, Jesus said, “Stone her”… then they’d be able to ridicule the fact that He was the “friend of publicans and sinners”… not to mention the fact that it could be used against Him for going against Roman authority in capital cases.

If He had passed sentence on her… then what would become of His own words that… Joh 3:17 KJV …God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

The Jews felt they were on solid ground.  There was no way that Jesus would be able to get out of this.  Either direction He took, they felt sure they had Him cornered.

But… His response didn’t come quick enough for them.  Because they felt that He was dragging His heels… and they knew that victory was so close at hand… they began to pester Him for His answer… which shows us…

II. The Persistence of Sin

Joh 8:6b-8 KJV   … But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.  (7)  So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.  (8)  And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.

Much has been said about this portion of the story.  Every imaginable scenario has been presented and preached on as to why Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger.

And there have also been countless thoughts concerning what it was that He wrote on the ground.  Some say he wrote out the names of each person present and their own sins.  But the truth is… no one knows what Jesus wrote.  The winds of time have long since blown that “Sanskrit” away…(pardon the pun)

There’s also much said about the fact that only the woman was brought…  If she was caught in the “very act”… then where was the man?  And this is a good question… because the law required judgment against both guilty parties.  So the Jews were going against their very own law by bringing only one of person to be judged.

However… if the “very act” meant that she was caught “propositioning”… then there may not have been a guilty male involved.

As I said earlier... there are many ideas floating around as to why Jesus stooped and wrote on the ground… but to my mind its symbolism is obvious.  Because this isn’t the first time the Lord has written on the ground… He did that before on a Mountain called Sinai…

Exo 31:18 KJV  And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.

It’s as if He’s telling them, “You remind me about the law?  It was my finger that wrote that law!”

And then when they kept asking Him for His response… mistaking His silence for embarrassment…  They kept pressing Him… they had no more idea of what it was He was doing than did Belshazzar, when that same hand wrote on the wall of his palace, Dan 5:25 …MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN

And then He stands again… probably looked around Him, and said… Joh 8: 7bHe that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. 

The law also required the testimony of at least two witnesses in all capital cases… and those witnesses also had to take part in the execution of the person they gave witness against.

Deu 17:6-7 KJV  At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.  (7)  The hands of the witnesses shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people. So thou shalt put the evil away from among you.

Surely then… since she was caught in the “very act”… there had to be at least two witnesses to the act.  And since they’re such sticklers for keeping the law (which they weren’t in fact keeping)… then surely these “sinless” and “guiltless” witnesses wouldn’t have any problem with throwing the first stones!

Then… once again He… John 8:8 KJV … stooped down, and wrote on the ground.

He wrote on the ground again… just as He wrote on tablets of stone again after Moses had broken the first set… and then the second set were placed in the ark of the covenant… and were covered by the blood-sprinkled mercy seat!

The first time He wrote on the ground He was showing that the law would be upheld… it would be “established”.  The second time He wrote on the ground, He was showing that the blood of an innocent substitute would cover those who were condemned by that law.

All those who will repent of their sin and cry out for mercy… will be covered by the blood and will receive…

III. The Pardon of Sin

Joh 8:9-11 KJV  And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.  (10)  When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?  (11)  She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

Notice first of all that all who had been holding stones in their hands and heard what Jesus said… were convicted by their own conscience and began to disappear into the crowd.

Instead of drawing these men to Christ… their conscience drove them away.  Our conscience is God-given… and it will tell us if we’re doing right, or wrong.  But nothing can bring anyone to repentance and faith in Christ, except for the Holy Spirit.

If the Spirit of God has not quickened that person to believe and receive… then they will only run away… just as these men did.

But if the Spirit of God has quickened a person’s heart… they will stand ready to receive Christ’s forgiveness as this woman did.  One who remained unrepentant would have fled into the crowd as soon as her accusers disappeared…

But she remained… standing there… in humble repentance…  And when Christ stood once again, and saw that her accusers had left… and the crowd had pulled even further away… He asked… Joh 8:10b KJV  …Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?

And her response was… Joh 8:11b KJV  She said, No man, Lord 

“Lord”… not “Master” as the Jews would refer to Him, but “Lord”… because… 1Co 12:3 KJV  … no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.

There was no one left to accuse her… so the law was now powerless to touch her.  The way was now open for Jesus to act with “grace” and “truth”.

Joh 8:11 KJV  Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

He would never condone her sin… but He will pardon all who come to Him in repentance and faith.  His command to her is His command to all who truly repent of their sins… “Go, and sin no more”.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Christ at Tabernacles, Part 3

Christ at Tabernacles, Part 3
John 7:37-52

All of human desire can be summed up in one word… thirst.  Now, the dictionary describes “thirst” as “an ardent, or strong desire”, “to crave vehemently or urgently”. 

And using these definitions, we can also see that “hunger” and “thirst” are synonymous.  In this sense…they mean the same thing.  Both are an intense craving after something you don’t yet have.

Jesus told us in Matthew… Mat 5:6 KJV  Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

When our goal in life is to attain unto the righteousness of Christ… when we crave His righteousness vehemently… we are, not “will be”… but “ARE” blessed… and we “will be” filled. 

Our thirst will be slaked… and our hunger will be fed… our desire will be fulfilled… and we are blessed, because we are given the righteousness of Christ through faith in Him!

Rom 3:21-22 KJV  But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;  (22)  Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe…

Php 3:9 KJV  And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

Now, it’s important to understand that this righteousness that we’re blessed with isn’t our own righteousness… it’s not that our righteousness has been made better… or improved upon…  This is His righteousness… God’s righteousness… the righteousness of Christ… that’s been given to us through faith.

Our sinful selves can’t be “improved upon”… or made “better”… we have to be made “new”.  Like Jesus said in the 3rd chapter… we have to be “born again”, and once that has occurred… we have been made “new”… just as Paul told the Corinthians… 2Co 5:17 KJV  …if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

I love this promise of Christ also because in it I understand that His righteousness is given to those who believe… instantaneously.  The moment I believed in Christ… His righteousness was imputed to my account… His righteousness was credited to me!

And at that moment that I trusted in Christ “unto salvation”… God looked upon me as righteous.  And believe me… when your account is filled with Christ’s righteousness… you’ll never have to worry about overdraft fees!  You’re account will never get overdrawn!

And all of those who are Christians today… have experienced that “hunger” and “thirst” that Jesus spoke of.  Every true believer in Christ… at some point in their life… became “thirsty” for what Christ offered them. 

When the Spirit of God moved in them… drawing them to the Son… they became “thirsty”… and as Jesus tells us in our passage today…  If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.

I. The Gospel Presented

Joh 7:37-39 KJV  In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.  (38)  He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.  (39)  (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)

Each day of the feast of Tabernacles, the high priest… in a ceremonial procession… would draw water from the pool of Siloam and carry it back to the Temple.  They would enter at the Water Gate, which was on the south side of the inner court… and as they proceeded to the altar, the shofar (a ram’s horn trumpet) would blast three times… and Isaiah 12:3 would be recited…

Isa 12:3 KJV  Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.

Then the priests would march to the altar and pour the water out on the altar as an offering to God.

But, on the last day of the feast… this ceremonial procession would be much more elaborate and joyful.  It would be a “holy convocation”, and as the priests marched around the altar 7 times… the temple choir would sing the Hallel (Psalm 113-118)… and then the priests would pour the water on the altar as before.

It was against this backdrop that… Joh 7:37b-38 KJV  …Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.  (38)  He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.

This is the gospel of Jesus Christ!  If you’re thirsty, come to Him and drink!

Isa 55:1 KJV  Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.

The first thing I want to point out here is the specific-ness of His call… the “any man” in John 7… and the “every one” in Isaiah 55… are qualified… the invitation goes to those who “thirst”.  And though there are other places in the scriptures that call all men to salvation… here… the call is only to those who thirst.

And that’s because… only those who thirst… will drink.  If you’re not thirsty, you won’t drink… you won’t heed Christ’s call.  Only those who have had the movement of the Holy Spirit in their lives… those who recognize their insufficiency… that they’re lacking the spiritual nourishment that’s necessary for eternal life…

Those who have that intense craving within to drink of the waters of life… are called to come… and drink!

Which is the next necessary step… the second step… that if you thirst… you must come!  Come to Jesus… who is the only source of living water.

Now… there are many who come to Christ.  Many who recognize something in Christ… and they come to Him.  As we’ve seen in the past several chapters of John already… there are many who were followers of Christ, who were called “disciples”… who truly weren’t.

Some were hanging around to see the next sign or miracle He’d do.  Some were simply “excitement junkies” who were following and hanging around because to them, He was the latest “fad” or “trend”.

And there were some… like the “rich young ruler”… who came to Christ… only to leave Him, sad and dejected because they aren’t willing to pay the price of truly following Him.

So… all those who thirst… may come… but the final necessary step… the third step… is that those who come… must drink!  Only those who drink of the water of life… that living water that Jesus offers… will have life!

In other words… you have to appropriate Christ by faith.  You have to “receive” Him… in order to “have” Him.

Joh 1:11-12 KJV  He came unto his own, and his own received him not.  (12)  But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

Only those who “receive” Christ… those who have repented of their sins… will receive the living water of Christ.  All others prove themselves to false disciples.

Repentance isn’t simply saying “I’m sorry”.  People who are caught doing something wrong say “I’m sorry” all the time, in hopes of easy forgiveness and not being held accountable for what they’ve done.

No… repentance is a heartfelt sorrow for your sinfulness and recognition of your own personal guilt before God.  It’s not because you got caught… but because you have come to understand how you’ve hurt your connection with God through your rebellion

And true repentance is displayed in a turning around… it’s doing an “about face”, and going in a new direction… not doing anymore, those things you used to do, but now desiring to do only those things that honor and glorify God.

That’s what repentance is… and once this occurs in a person’s life… they will become channels through which the rivers of living water are sent out to others… Joh 7:38 KJV  He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.

Jesus doesn’t intend for any of His… to be ponds… where the water will just sit and become stagnant.  No… He intends for us to be flowing rivers that give life to the land around us… and bring salvation to all who would drink of the water flowing forth from us.

As Leon Morris wrote… “The believer is not self-centered.  As he receives the gift of God, so he passes it on to others.  Or to put the same thought in another way, when a man believes, he becomes a servant of God, and God uses him to be the means of bringing the blessing to others.”

As Christians… we’re to be rivers of life… flowing… bubbling… and splashing along… benefiting all who come into contact with us…  But we must realize that we’ll have different responses to our message, just as Christ did… and we’ll see…

II. The Gospel Effects

Joh 7:40-46 KJV  Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, Of a truth this is the Prophet.  (41)  Others said, This is the Christ. But some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee?  (42)  Hath not the scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was?  (43)  So there was a division among the people because of him.  (44)  And some of them would have taken him; but no man laid hands on him.  (45)  Then came the officers to the chief priests and Pharisees; and they said unto them, Why have ye not brought him?  (46)  The officers answered, Never man spake like this man.  (47)  Then answered them the Pharisees, Are ye also deceived?  (48)  Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him?  (49)  But this people who knoweth not the law are cursed.  (50)  Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them,)  (51)  Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth?  (52)  They answered and said unto him, Art thou also of Galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet.

As I said earlier… and in the previous weeks as we’ve gone through this gospel of John… we’ve seen that people who respond to Jesus Christ, can be separated into four groups.  All of which can be seen in this passage we just read.

And we’ll begin with the first group we come across.  Those who are…

1. Close…  Of a truth this is the Prophet.

The “Close” group is like those who go to the carnival and shoot the rifles at targets… but because of faulty equipment… or lack of experience… never really hit the target.  They get “close”… but get no “cigar”, or no prize.

These are those who have heard the message of Christ, and believe that He is something “special”… or someone “unique”… but that’s about as close as they ever get.  They aren’t willing to take that necessary step of faith, and declare Him LORD.

And this group would probably represent the majority of the people in the world.  Whether they come from a “Christian” country, “Muslim” or “Hindu”… they will recognize Jesus as a “great teacher”, or a “holy man”, or as the muslims say… a “prophet”

But they will not claim Him for what He truly is… the LORD!  They might even go so far as to say that He was sent from God… but their adamant refusal to acknowledge Him as “God with us”… will lead them to their doom.

Because “close” only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades.  When it comes to salvation… you have to hit the mark.  And those who hit the mark… are those who are the…

2. Convinced…  This is the Christ.

Despite all the intimidation from the Jewish authorities… the threats of being cast out of the synagogue and cut off from the people… these are those who have become convinced that Jesus is the Messiah of God.

All the miracles He’s performed have served their purpose.  They declare to all who will see, that the words He speaks are both truth… and life.  He is the son of Man and the son of God.

He came to do His Father’s will and all who believe in Him and place their faith and trust in Him… are saved… and will be resurrected in the last day.

That He died on the cross for our sins.  He was buried.  He rose from the dead on the third day.  He ascended into heaven and will one day very soon, return for His church and establish His kingdom in which justice and righteousness are the orders of the day.

And now… having become convinced of Jesus’ identity… they boldly proclaim it and are now a part of Christ’s “flock” and are among those who have entered through the narrow gate that leads to salvation.  They are the “thirsty” who have drank of the “living water” and are now counted among the “redeemed”.

But all those who are faced with the evidence… but continue in unbelief… are in the group called the…

3. Contrary…  Shall Christ come out of Galilee?  … Are ye also deceived?   Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him?

Some who were among the crowd… and many of the Sadducees and Pharisees… weren’t convinced of Jesus’ authenticity… and they not only refused to believe… but they actively opposed Him and all those who would follow Him.

They tried to argue against Christ out of the scriptures as some of the crowd did… “Shall Christ come out of Galilee?”  Or they’ll use their position and education to intimidate those who don’t “toe the line”… “Are ye also deceived?  Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him?”

They’re the scoffers that are described by Peter in… 2Pe 3:3-4 KJV  Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,  (4)  And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.

2Pe 2:17 KJV  These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever.

And finally we come to the fourth group… those who aren’t quite sure just yet.  They haven’t turned away from the truth as the “contrary” have… nor have they fully embraced Christ yet as the “convinced” have.  No… these are the…

4. Contemplative…  Never man spake like this man  … Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth?

The temple guard, who were sent to arrest Christ, returned without Him in custody.  When they’re asked about it… their only response was “Never a man spake like this man”.  They didn’t try to blame their failure on the “crowds”… but admitted to being “mesmerized” by Christ’s words.

Now, these were trained and educated Levites.  They couldn’t be accounted among the “rabble”, as the leaders called the people.  Neither would Nicodemus.  Earlier… Jesus had called him a…  Joh 3:10 KJV  … a master of Israel

And though he still wasn’t a “believer”… it could be said that he was still in that “contemplative” stage.  He was still thinking about it all… and weighing all that he heard and saw in Christ… and putting it all together with what he knew from the law and the prophets.

And despite the mocking and belittling thrown at him by the other religious leaders… Nicodemus refused to be swayed…  He weighed all these things in his own mind, so that he could come to his own conclusion, which he eventually did.  Ultimately… his decision was for Christ and he moved from being among the contemplative… to the convinced.

*  *  *  *  *

Each of the three groups… the “Close”, the “Contrary” and the “Contemplative”… all of them still have the opportunity of turning it all around.  Jesus still cries out to all who have yet to believe…

Joh 7:37 KJV  …If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.

And maybe you’ve identified yourself as being among one of these groups… Maybe  you’re close to believing, but haven’t got the prize… Or, maybe you have openly declared that you don’t believe, but now, you’re not so sure of that anymore… Or maybe you’ve been thinking it over for some time now…

If that thirst is rising within you again… you can still come… and drink.

And if you do… you’ll never thirst again!  Joh 4:14 KJV  But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Christ at Tabernacles, Part 2

Christ at Tabernacles, Part 2
John 7:25-36

Throughout this chapter… we see that one party after another becomes exposed… Jesus is the light that shines into the deepest reaches of the heart and soul, and as light always does… it reveals... it exposes what’s there.

1Co 4:5 KJV  Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts…

Just as one little flame can illuminate the darkest of caverns… so also, intense light will reveal much more than normal lighting.  Think of a woman’s vanity mirror… While she may look just fine to all the world around her… when she sits in front of that bright lighted, and even magnified mirror… every pore… every little bit of fuzz and tiny white hair becomes exposed for her to pop, pluck, or exfoliate…

So in a similar fashion… through the bright light of Christ… we have seen that His own brothers were revealed as men of the world… unbelievers.  The Jews (the religious leaders) are exposed as carnal… and for the most part… apparently unable to comprehend even the slightest spiritual innuendo.

The “people” show us their true heart when they mock Jesus by telling Him that He has a demon… and now… we come to the inhabitants of Jerusalem who show their own confusion as to who Christ is.  For the most part…  they hide behind the religious leaders and are unwilling to say “yay” or “nay” for fear of being put out of the temple and cut off from the people.

   Rom 3:9-11 KJV  …for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;  (10)  As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:  (11)  There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.

Rom 3:22c-23 KJV  … for there is no difference:  (23)  For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

There is none that understands… everyone has fallen short of the glory of God… Jesus’ brothers didn’t believe… and they had the benefit of living with Him and growing up with Him all their lives…

The Jewish leaders, the Sadducees and Pharisees, didn’t believe… and they had the added benefit of God’s written Word to guide them.  They could have seen Christ anywhere they looked in the Scriptures… but though their eyes were open and saw… they were blind to the truth right before them.

The people outside of Jerusalem… the “country Jews” and the inhabitants of Jerusalem had no more heart for Christ than any of the others.

All of them had the benefit of witnessing His miracles… and these should have proven to them that His message was true and that He had God’s seal of approval… but it didn’t.  Matter-of-fact… some even tried to use the miracles as a sign that He was actually doing Satan’s bidding…

Mat 12:24 KJV  But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.

Rich or poor… great or small… educated or uneducated… male or female… Jew or Gentile…  How plain, and clear it is… that no one will ever come to Christ except the Father draw him…

And it remains so to this very day.  One group… or class of people is just as opposed to the Gospel as another.  Though technology has advanced… and knowledge is greatly increased… we’ve reached out to the stars and have looked deep within to map out DNA… despite all of this, mankind remains the same. 

He is completely unchanged in his thoughts… attitudes… and emotions…  And because of this… we’re all… still… desperately lost and in need of a Savior.

And just as it is today… that there is much controversy surrounding Jesus Christ… so it was back then… Jesus brought controversy and division which resulted in hostility…

All of which stems from one source… unbelief.  But the unbelief of the masses never caused Jesus to amend His message.  And that commitment of His, to do the Father’s will and to preach His Word faithfully… highlights the crowds response to Him… and their…

I. Dense Confusion

Joh 7:25-27 KJV  Then said some of them of Jerusalem, Is not this he, whom they seek to kill?  (26)  But, lo, he speaketh boldly, and they say nothing unto him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is the very Christ?  (27)  Howbeit we know this man whence he is: but when Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence he is. 

Last week we saw that some of the “country” Jews… those who lived outside of Jerusalem or in Galilee… weren’t as “in-tune” with the happenings and rumblings around Jerusalem as were the people who lived in the city.

When Jesus asked them why they were wanting to kill Him… their response was… Joh 7:20 KJV  …Thou hast a devil: who goeth about to kill thee?

And now we see here that the people who lived in Jerusalem knew exactly what the score was when they asked… Joh 7:25b KJV  … Is not this he, whom they seek to kill?

And their question is asked in such a way that it begs for a positive answer… “Yeah… of course this is Him!”  And because they now see Jesus in the Temple… boldly teaching the people… the Jews of Jerusalem are struck with a great sense of confusion.

None of this made sense to them…  They knew that the leaders wanted to arrest Him and even kill Him… yet here He was… right out in the open… as bold as anything… right under their noses… and they’re doing nothing about it!

Now… it could be that the Jewish leaders let Jesus continue His teaching in the Temple because experience had taught them that every time they confronted Him about something… they tended come out with the short end of the stick.

Or, He might have had such a commanding presence that even though they were opposed to Him… they were still in awe of Him and didn’t want to face the sting of that whip of cords that He wielded so well a couple years ago in the Temple

But the most likely scenario was that the leaders simply were afraid that trying to arrest Him now… so publicly… because it might cause a riot.  Even though Rome had allowed them to keep quite a bit of local policing authority… in order to keep the peace… but, if they started a riot… they would be held accountable…  Not to mention all the bloodshed that would come when the Roman soldiers came in to put down the riot.

So… just as the people were afraid of their leaders… their leaders were afraid of the people.

But regardless of their reasons… the people saw their inaction… and it confused them to the point that some began speculating…  “Have the leaders come across some new evidence?” “Have they changed their minds and now they think He is actually the Christ?”

And their prideful hearts are revealed in their next statement… because even though they thought their leaders might be having some doubts… many of the people felt that they knew better… they knew exactly who He was… Joh 7:27a   Howbeit we know this man whence he is…

Apparently they were well aware of Jesus’ family life and His upbringing in Nazareth… and they assumed that this was also the place of His birth.  But they held onto a popular, though false belief of the day, that… Joh 7:27b  …when Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence he is. 

They thought that no one would know anything about Him…  No one would know where He came from… And this thinking came about through a misunderstanding of OT verses such as… Mal 3:1b KJV  …the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple… and this led them to think that the Messiah would just suddenly appear out of nowhere to redeem Israel

And because they felt that they knew all about Jesus… it led some of them think that He couldn’t possibly be the Messiah.  But… as we can see from other Scripture that though this idea of a “suddenly appearing Messiah” may have been popular with many people… not everyone ascribed to it.

Remember when the wise men came to Herod asking about the one who was born the King of the Jews?   The religious leaders told Herod that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem

Mic 5:2 KJV  But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.

So… some thought that Jesus was a “good” man.  Some thought that He was a prophet.  Some… a deceiver… and others… thought they knew all they needed to know about Him, when in reality… they didn’t know Him at all.  Others though… believed on Him…

It sounds just like our world today… doesn’t it.  A confusing mass of opinions which illustrates to us…

II. Divided Conviction

Joh 7:28-31 KJV   Then cried Jesus in the temple as he taught, saying, Ye both know me, and ye know whence I am: and I am not come of myself, but he that sent me is true, whom ye know not.  (29)  But I know him: for I am from him, and he hath sent me.  (30)  Then they sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come.  (31)  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?

Now, it would appear that Jesus is admitting that they in fact do know Him and where He came from… but when you consider that His statement here… Joh 7:28b  Ye both know me, and ye know whence I am…  is the exact opposite of what He says a little later in… Joh 8:19 KJV  Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also.

We have to understand then… that He’s using sarcasm and irony.  His point is that contrary to what they thought… they really didn’t know who He truly was at all.  They may have known something of Him in the earthly sense… but could never truly Him in the spiritual sense, because they didn't know God either.

So He doesn’t spend time on going over His life history and explaining to them that He was in fact born in Bethlehem… because experience tells us that even if you try to explain every question an unbeliever may have… you will never bring about the conversion of those who have determined that they will not believe…

So… instead of wasting time arguing over things that won’t serve to change anyone’s mind anyway…  get to the root of their problem… which is unbelief. 

IF they truly knew Him… from “whence” He came… as they claimed… THEN they would also know that He didn’t come on His own accord… but that He was sent by God.  If they knew the one… then they’d know the other…

BUT… since they don’t recognize His true source… then they’ve proven that they really don’t know Him or the Father who sent Him either!  You simply can’t have one… without the other.

Jesus told Philip… Joh 14:9 KJV  … Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father…

And in Matthew He said… Mat 11:27 KJV   … no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.

There is simply no such thing as knowledge of God without knowledge of the Son!

And because some of what He’s saying is beginning to sink in… the people are becoming angry.  The devout Jews among them would take it as a slap in the face when someone tells them that they don’t know the very God they claim to have known all their lives…

And so on the spur of a moment… probably in a fit of anger… they try to lay hands on Him, and seize Him… Joh 7:30  … but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come.

The restraining hand of God kept His enemies from their purpose!  “His hour had not yet come!”  The same sovereign power of God that kept the javelin that Saul threw at David from hitting its mark… the same sovereign power that kept the lions mouths closed as they lay around Daniel in the pit… the same sovereign power that brought the three young Hebrew men out of the fire without even a twinge of smoke lingering on them…

Is the same sovereign power that kept these Jews from causing the death of the Son of God before the appointed time… because… “His hour had not yet come!”

And it was also that same power of God that was working many miracles through Christ… that brought many more to faith in Christ…  Joh 7:31  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?

Though many came to faith in Christ because of His miracles… the vast majority remained confused and divided… And when the Pharisees heard that some were questioning their position… it caused them to join forces with their political and spiritual opponents, the Sadducees… where we now come to see their…

III. Derisive Contempt

Joh 7:32-36 KJV  The Pharisees heard that the people murmured such things concerning him; and the Pharisees and the chief priests sent officers to take him.  (33)  Then said Jesus unto them, Yet a little while am I with you, and then I go unto him that sent me.  (34)  Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come.  (35)  Then said the Jews among themselves, Whither will he go, that we shall not find him? will he go unto the dispersed among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles?  (36)  What manner of saying is this that he said, Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come?

The Sadducees were the ruling class in the Temple, and were comprised of the priestly Levites.  They were the liberals of their nation and only believed in the 5 books of Moses. They didn’t believe in a resurrection (so they were sad… you see)… and they were by and large, OKAY with the Roman governance of their land.

The Pharisees were the common people by comparison… but mostly of merchant and wealthy families.  They were conservative in their outlook… many had sat under the best of the Jewish teachers of the day… or they were teachers themselves… and they were sticklers for close adherence to the law… but especially the oral “traditions of the elders”.

Neither group liked the other very much… but “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”…  When it came to Jesus… they worked together to rid themselves of this nuisance… So, because the Sadducees had control of the Temple Guard and maintained the authority to “arrest” people… the Pharisees were able to unite with them against their common enemy.

I find it truly amazing that two groups like these… with all their education and religious experience… appear to be incapable to understand the subtle… or even blatant references of verbal imagery.

For instance… Nicodemus thought being “born again” meant going back into the mother’s womb.  We just read a couple chapters ago where Jesus spoke of “eating” His flesh, and “drinking” His blood… and they thought He was condoning cannibalism…

And now…when He tells them that…  Joh 7:33  … Yet a little while am I with you, and then I go unto him that sent me.  (34)  Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come.

All they can think about is… “Where’s He going?”  “Is He going to the Dispersion?”  “Is He going to the Gentiles?” “What’s he mean by all this?”

Their contempt is obvious… and instead of listening to His warnings and even trying to understand what He’s saying… they mock Him about going to the Gentiles… which no self-respecting Jewish rabbi would EVER do!

But the truth is that those who continue to reject Christ… those who continue to turn away from Jesus every time He’s presented to them… will never come to where He was going…

Those who continue to live in unbelief… continue to show their contempt for the blood of the Son of God which was shed for them on the cross. 

There will come a time when those who have never trusted in Christ will “seek Him”… but regardless of how hard or how long they search… it will be too late and they “shall not find” Him…

That where He is… they “cannot come”

But that time has not yet arrived.  There is still time to place your faith and trust in the Savior… to believe in Him with all your heart… and confess that He is both Lord and Savior.

And His promise to all who do that is… Joh 6:37 KJV  … him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.