Jesus' Message to Hard Working Good People
Topic: The Gospel Passage: John 7:1–7:24
Sermon Title: Jesus’ Message for Hard Working, “Good People”
It’s hard to witness to “Good People”:
• Man: I was witnessing to a man that started telling me how he’d never cheated on his wife. When I tried to convince him that he was a sinner, he got up and left.
• Serbian Man: I spoke to a Serbian man on a plan flying over Europe. This man told me that he’d never sinned. Have you ever lied? Nope. Have you ever looked lustfully at a woman? Not that I can remember. I couldn’t find a sin that I could stick him with, so I just told him some verses from Romans. The Bible says, “That all have sinned.” And The Bible says, “The wages of sin is death.” That got his attention. “So we’re all doomed?” “Yes, you’re getting it. We are all in big trouble with God. We are all sinners deserving the punishment of God for the wrong we have done.”
• If a sinner can’t understand that, then the cross of Jesus Christ will make no sense to him at all. Jesus didn’t come for the healthy, but for the seek. He didn’t come to pat good people on the back, but to save sinners!
Intro to Text: Dean spoke of “The Great Divide” last week. Jesus is making bold and startling statements that force people to have to choose whether they are going to stick with him or leave him. Things start getting more intense at this point. Those who love him cling more tightly to him, and those who oppose him begin plotting his death. In the text here, we see Jesus interactions with 2 groups of people who oppose him, his own brothers and the Jews.
Divisions of the Text
• Introduction (1-2)
• Brothers (3-10)
• Jews (11-24)
4 Things Jesus Wants to Say to Hard Working, “Good People”
1. Your works are evil.
2. My teaching is from God.
3. You can know that my teaching is from God.
4. I am your Sabbath rest.
After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He would not go about in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill him. 2 Now the Jews' Feast of Booths was at hand.
• After this: This is a time reference that helps us figure out where we are in the chronology of Jesus ministry.
• Time Line: Here’s a timeline of the last year of Jesus life.
• Retirement Ministry: Jews seeking to kill Jesus (1): They had begun plotting His death. That’s one of the reasons Jesus stays up North and why he comes later and privately to the Feast of Booths.
• Feast of Booths (2): Or, the Feast of Tabernacles. This was a Harvest Celebration in the month of October.
o Just after the Day of Atonement: Where the people remembered the covering of their sin. Natural, that a celebration of joy and gratefulness for God’s provision would follow the Day of Atonement.
o Key elements: Commemorated events that occurred after their deliverance from Egypt while they were wandering in the dessert.
Shelter: or booth or tabernacle – hung fruits and veggies, thanking God for the harvest
Water: They had a ceremony where they poured out water from Siloam to commemorate the day that God had given them water from the rock in the wilderness. Jesus took this opportunity as the water was being poured out to declare in verses 37-38: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”
Light: In commemoration of the pillar of fire by night that led the Israelites through the wilderness, they lit a grand candelabra in the inner court of the temple and they had a torch-parade. Jesus took this opportunity to declare in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Transition: Jesus is still up in Galilee where he’s been hanging out with his disciples for the last 6 months off the radar of the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem. So, it’s now October, only 6 months before the crucifixion, and it’s time for the celebration of the Feast of Booths. Jesus’ unbelieving brothers challenge him to go to Jerusalem and go public.
1. Brothers (3-10)
3 So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples also may see the works you are doing. 4 For no one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” 5 For not even his brothers believed in him.
• Brothers: These are the half-brothers of Jesus. Mary was a virgin when Jesus was born, but later she and Joseph had other children. According to Matthew’s account, four of Jesus’ brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Jude, are here questioning Jesus. So Mary was a virgin at Jesus birth, but she did not stay a virgin. She wouldn’t have been a very good wife to Joseph if she stayed a virgin. As we see in scripture, Mary and Joseph had children together, and it’s some of these children of Mary that are challenging Jesus here in John 7.
• Challenge (3-4): If you’re really aspiring to be some great leader of the people, then go to Jerusalem and make yourself and your agenda known. What are these brothers up to? Why are they trying to get him to go public?
• Unbelief (5): Verse 5 says, “Not even his brothers believed in him.” So they’re not really trying to help Jesus grow his ministry. I think they’re being a bit sarcastic. “If you’re really that great, then go to Jerusalem and tell everybody what a big deal you are.”
• “I think the brothers interpret Jesus’ reticence to go as an admission that he is a fake. They get it that he is making Messianic claims, but are offended that he, their own brother, would do so (Mark 6:4). They think—or want—him an ordinary man. Maybe they have even bought into the Pharisee’s narrative that Jesus does his miracles by the power of the devil. Likely they think he is crazy (Mark 3:21). They think he’s afraid to go to Jerusalem because he knows that there he will be exposed by the leaders for who he is.”
Transition: But Jesus intentions are to go late and go privately to the feast. So he responds to them in verse 6-10.
Jesus to the Brothers
6 Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. 7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil. 8 You go up to the feast. I am not going up to this feast [yet], for my time has not yet fully come.” 9 After saying this, he remained in Galilee. 10 But after his brothers had gone up to the feast, then he also went up, not publicly but in private.
• Not going [yet]: Jesus was going to the feast. He had no doubt about that. He just wasn’t going yet.
• My Time (6, 8-10): Jesus was well aware that the Jews were plotting his death. He knew that if he went to The Feast too early that would give the them enough time to put their plans together. So he held off for a little bit. “Had he gone up at once, with the firstcomers, there would have been ample time for the Sanhedrin to plan his arrest at this time, so as to put him to death now. But Jesus new that his death as the Lamb of God must take place at the time of the next Passover, not during the Feast of Tabernacles.” – William Hendriksen
• Also, he was constantly paying attention to God’s timing and the specific appointments that the Father had for him. “Every deed and action of the Lord (not only for his death on the cross) there is a definite moment, determined from all eternity in the plan of God. The will of Jesus being in complete accord with this eternal counsel of God , he naturally waits for the proper moment to arrive. For the brothers of Jesus there were no such considerations. They had no such conscious contact with the clock of God’s eternal counsel. Besides, they were as yet un believers.” – William Hendriksen
• The world cannot hate you, but it hates me (7): The world doesn’t hate Jesus’ brothers because they are part of the world. They are still unbelieving. They are still in darkness. They still belong to the world.
• It hates me…why?: Jesus says because “I testify about it that its works are evil.”
1. Your works are evil.
“We are created in God’s image and likeness, and loved and valued for that reason. Also, our depravity, though ugly and offensive, does not cancel his love. The fall has profoundly affected every human faculty: intellect, affections, will, and conscience. Every part of us naturally inclines towards evil and is hostile to God. Because of God’s common grace—grace freely given to his enemies—people are rarely as evil as they could be; they show glints of God’s glory, glints that we should honor. But were God to remove his common grace, what we really are would at once be revealed, and it wouldn’t be pretty.” – Dean Davis
Dean asks: How would God help us see our evil? (5 measuring sticks)
1) our own personal ideals,
2) the Law of God;
3) the Law of Christ: Love your neighbor as yourself and love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength;
4) the Christ of God, a Lamb without spot or blemish;
5) the glory of God the Father.
• If we compare ourselves with Adolf Hitler or Saddam Hussein, we look pretty good, but when we measure ourselves by these standards, we see that we all fall far short.
• Similarly, in verse 19, he says: “None of you keeps the law.”
• You’re in big trouble. You are evil and you have broken God’s law.
• What happens when you break the law? You get punished!
• Implication: YOU NEED HELP! You need a savior.
• Unless, we realize our sinfulness, we won’t realize that we need Jesus.
• Sounds harsh: You are evil! But, in reality it’s the most loving thing to say. Why? Because it’s true and if we don’t realize our sinfulness, we’ll never come to Christ to be saved from it.
Dean Davis: “Finally, from one angle, it’s actually a great relief to know that I’m evil; to know what’s wrong with me; to know I don’t have to wait a zillion years to evolve out of my depravity, or mediate out of my depravity, or reincarnate out of my depravity. No, I just need to come to Jesus, who will dethrone my depravity, heal my depravity, and in the end fully deliver me from my depravity, replacing it with the glory of God!. A message of great hope, after all!” – Dean Davis
Transition: Verses 11-24 begin the section on Jesus’ interactions with the Jews.
Last Section: The Jews (11-24)
Transition: Jesus heads off to the Feast of Booths…privately…and late. I doubt it was fashionable to be late back in those days. There’s tension in the air. Everyone is curious if Jesus is going to show up and no one knows yet that he actually is there...due to his somewhat cryptic response to his brothers, they don’t even know if he’s coming. Questions and opinions about him are circulating around the event. They’re circulating in whispers and private conversations… Everyone is afraid of the Jewish leaders, so they don’t speak publicly about him. [VERSE 11]
11 The Jews were looking for him at the feast, and saying, “Where is he?” 12 And there was much muttering about him among the people. While some said, “He is a good man,” others said, “No, he is leading the people astray.” 13 Yet for fear of the Jews no one spoke openly of him. 14 About the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and began teaching. 15 The Jews therefore marveled, saying, “How is it that this man has learning, when he has never studied?”
Jews about Jesus
• There were questions about Jesus’ Authority: Based on 2 things. His goodness and where he got his teaching or his education.
1. His Goodness (12): Some said “He’s a good man” while others thought he was leading the people astray. “If he’s really a good man, why is he teaching people to break the Sabbath?”
2. His Teaching or His Education (15): How is it that this man has learning? Or, literally how can he know letters without an education? He never went to any of the rabbinical schools. He’s not a scribe, a Pharisee or a Sadducee. So how can we trust his teaching? Today this would be akin to saying, “How can we trust what he said because he didn’t go to an accredited school?”
Transition: Then out of nowhere Jesus suddenly, appears and addresses their arguments that have been spoken in private. He shocks them all by immediately addressing this issue of the origin of his teaching. The Jews have presented a false dichotomy. They are saying that either his teaching comes from the rabbinical schools or it just comes from himself. Jesus presents a 3rd option. [VERSE 16]
16 So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me.
2. My teaching comes from God.
• Logic – The False Dichotomy: My teaching is not from the rabbinical schools and it’s not just something I made up in my own head. There’s a 3rd option: My teaching comes directly from God.
• Galatians 1:11-12
Paul said: 11 For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man's gospel. 12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.
• Christianity is not a man-made religion: If it were man-made Jesus would be telling us just like all the other religious leaders: “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps. Try harder to be a good person. If you put your mind to it, you can do it. The power is in you!”
• His Teaching is straight from God: And Jesus’ message is: “You can’t do it. You are evil and the changes that need to be made in your life are beyond your ability. Trying harder won’t do it for you. You need someone else to do it for you. That’s why I came. You question, ‘Am I good?’ Yes, I am. I am the ONLY one who is good. I am the ONLY one who has kept the law. I am perfect and completely righteous. And I am going to the cross to save people who could never save themselves. If you believe in me, my righteousness is credited to you and your sin is credited to me, and I will do away with it when I die on the cross in your place!”
• This is God Religion! It’s not something you can do yourself. It’s something I must do for you.
Transition: Jesus says: 1. Your works are evil. 2. My teaching is from God. And for the people listening, this begs the question, “How do we know your teaching is from God?” Jesus answers this for them. [VERSE 17]
17 If anyone's will is to do God's will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. 18 The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.
3. You can know that my teaching is from God.
Jesus gives 2 instructions on how to know whether or not teaching is from God.
1. In order to know, you have to really want to do God’s will. Jesus says: If anyone’s will is to do God’s will.
• Did they really want to do God’s will? Sadly, for many of them the answer was no. Their chief concern was not to do God’s will, but rather to accomplish their own personal agenda or to have people like them.
• Do you really want to do God’s will? What if it costs you? What other priorities do you have? What do you want to accomplish? What do you want to have? What comforts do you want to maintain? Who do you want to like you? Will you subjugate all of these priorities to the great priority of doing God’s will? Will you say, “I want to do God’s will no matter what the cost”?
o If I never get married…
o If I never get rich…
o If I lose friends…
o If people make fun of me…
o We’ve got to get to the point where we say, “I must do God’s will no matter what the cost.”
• That’s when you’ll know what the will of God is. Until then, everything is a blur. Life is a fog of confusion.
• Dean Davis: “This reminds me of a movie I saw about a Muslim terrorist who was commissioned by his leader to read the Bible and draw up a refutation of it. As he read, he became more and more persuaded that this might be the truth. He wanted the truth. He wanted to do God’s will. And so God opened his eyes. End of terrorist!” – Dean Davis
Transition: Then Jesus talks about the teacher who is seeking his own glory versus the teacher who is seeking God’s glory.
2. In order to know, evaluate the motives of the teacher.
• Is he trying to exalt himself or seeking his own glory? NOT from God
• Is he trying to exalt God? FROM God
• Preacher Test: We as preachers need to ask these questions of ourselves from time to time. Why am I teaching this message? What’s my aim? Is it to exalt myself? Am I trying to make a flashy presentation that everyone will love, so they think that I’m a great preacher? Or, am I driven to accurately teach the word of God with the aim of exalting him? The more a preacher is into promoting self, the more his message will stray from the truth of God’s Word.
• Motives Matter: They matter a lot. The content of what we say will constantly shift based on our motives. So, whenever you listen to a teacher, listen for truth and pay attention to motives.
• Dean Davis: “Look for a preacher who loves Jesus, loves to talk about him, loves to bring every sermon and every text around to Christ, where it truly belongs. Look for a preacher who loves the all-sufficiency of the WORK of Christ: Jesus did it all, Jesus paid it all, simple faith in Jesus is all we need.” - Dean Davis
Transition: At this point, Jesus tells the Jews, just like he told his brothers, that they are evil, that they have broken God’s law. [VERSE 19]
19 Has not Moses given you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law.
• Jews worked so hard to keep the law. Despite your effort, you still fail to keep it.
Why do you seek to kill me?”
Transition: Here Jesus cuts to the chase. He calls out the pink elephant in the room…and he drives the conversation toward the point of dispute, that point of contention that will ultimately cause him to wind up on a cross. He confronts the Jewish leaders on their plot to kill him, but the crowd does not realize this plot is afoot. [VERSE 20]
20 The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who is seeking to kill you?”
• These pilgrims visiting Jerusalem for the feast were not in on the plot: It’s the Jewish leaders that are plotting Jesus death. Most of the people don’t know about this plot. So when he speaks of it, they think he’s crazy, paranoid or possessed by a demon.
• The truth of the matter is that the Jews were seeking to kill him.
o John 7:1 says, “The Jews were seeking to kill him.”
o John 5:18 gives 2 reasons why they wanted to kill him, “18 This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.”
Transition: The first reason had to do with Jesus healing on the Sabbath, and here Jesus points that out. He refers to the miracle he did at the Pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem where he made a crippled man walk on the Sabbath. [VERSE 21]
21 Jesus answered them, “I did one work, and you all marvel at it. 22 Moses gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers [or the patriarchs]), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. 23 If on the Sabbath a man receives circumcision, so that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because on the Sabbath I made a man's whole body well? 24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”
• Sabbath: The Sabbath was Saturday, the 7th day of the week. Through Moses, God had told the people not to work on the Sabbath. However, the Jews had come up with all kinds of man-made rules regarding the Sabbath. They had gotten completely obsessed with all these Sabbath rules. When Jesus healed the crippled man, he told him “Take up your matt and walk.” The religious leaders rebuked this man for carrying his matt and they condemned Jesus for healing on the Sabbath.
• Jesus points out their hypocrisy: You guys will circumcise a baby boy on the 8th day, even if it falls on the Sabbath, and you condemn me for healing a man on the Sabbath.
• Judge with right judgment: In short, he’s saying, “Think a little. Consider how crazy you’ve gotten with Sabbath observances that you would have denied this man his healing for the sake of your traditions.”
4. I am your Sabbath rest.
o Work Mentality: t-shirt at restaurant - “Earned not Given” – Carolyn, that is the anti-gospel
o My Pride: says I can do it myself. I don’t need a handout. I’ll earn my own way… In many ways, that is true in this life, but when it comes to my eternal soul, my only hope is that I will be GIVEN what I could never earn.
o For the Jews, it’s all do, do, do. Be good enough. Work hard enough. Obey the law.
o Jesus pops their bubble: You can’t do it. Verse 19 says, “None of you keeps the law.”
o Are you on the tread mill of works? You’re trying harder and harder, but you’re never good enough.
o Jesus wants to give you the Sabbath Rest: He would say to you today: “I am your Sabbath rest. You can get off the treadmill of works. You can stop fearing that you’re always in trouble with God. You can be a peace with God. You can be made totally pure and righteous. Not by working hard but by believing in Jesus.
o Hebrews 4 has good news for you. It will answer your questions about the Sabbath rest.
Is there still a Sabbath rest? Yes!
Vs. 9: So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.
Can you earn that rest by working hard? No.
Vs. 10: For whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.
Who enters into that rest?
Vs. 3: For we who have believed enter that rest.
Who do you have to believe in?
Vs. 14-16: Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
o Jesus was good enough. He kept the law that we couldn’t keep.
o By faith in Jesus, you can enter into that rest: “There still remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.” It’s a rest that is not achieved by slaving away at the impossible task of trying to keep the law. You will find this Sabbath rest by believing in Jesus Christ. Trust your life to him. He kept the law for you. He died on the cross in your place. If you believe in him, he will cleanse your soul from sin. He will end the enmity between you and God, and you will find rest for your soul.