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Author:Rev. Sjirk Bajema
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Congregation:The Reformed Church of Oamaru
 Oamaru, New Zealand
 sites.google.com/site/rcoamaru/
 
Title:Who Else Could Be The One?
Text:John 7:45-52 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Maintaining the Antithesis
 
Preached:2022-05-01
Added:2023-11-09
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


JOHN 7:45-52

(Reading: John 7:14-52)

 

Who Else Could Be The One?

 

 

Congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ…

     There are many things that stand out about the Lord’s ministry. There are his numerous healings, which include a number of raisings from the dead. There is his deep insight into what people were feeling. There is his loving sensitivity for those in need.

     There is also the astonishment of the crowds at his teaching. Mark’s gospel begins in chapter 1 by noting what an impact that had. Verse 22 there tells us, “They were astonished at his teaching…”

     And why were they amazed at his teaching? Well, Mark goes on there to say, because “he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.”

     So it was not only that Jesus knew so much but also that he did not quote all the other authorities the teachers of the law and the Pharisees were constantly quoting. He spoke as if he were the authority!

     Yet, the crowds also wondered where Jesus got to know all this from. Further on in Mark 6 the crowd asks in verses 2 and 3, “Where did this man get these things? What is this wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James, Joses, Judas and Simon? Are not his sisters here with us?”

     Jesus was completely different than any teacher they knew. But it was a difference that made him all the difference! Here was teaching that didn’t lock you up into yet more laws – rather, he truly freed them!

     And now he was in the temple itself. There, in the place where you had to be extra knowledgeable and extra careful, he – a man with no professional training – flattened them all with his exposition of the Scriptures! How much wouldn’t you have loved to be there, seated at his feet, taking it all in?

     It was also clear this was a man who wasn’t full of himself. In fact, how much didn’t he keep drawing them back to what the covenant God had declared in their Scriptures? He told about the call he had from God himself, and how much didn’t that connect him with the prophets of the past?

     There is obviously something about him. And just like the true prophets who had come before him it was a divisive thing. Some were convinced that he was the Prophet, with some going even further and confessing him to be the Christ – the promised Messiah himself! Others were sceptical. This man had come from Galilee. That was nowhere near where the royal line was said to be – which was in Bethlehem, of the line of David.

     It was a confusion that also struck the temple guards ordered to arrest him. As we see now, they come to also realise, in the words of a first aspect, NO ONE EVER SPOKE AS THIS MAN. This is what we note from the verses 45 and 46.

 

     So the policemen of Jerusalem come back to their masters. It was likely a few days after they had been sent off. And it would have been a Sabbath day also, the last day of the feast.

     How hypocritical isn’t that for a council that is made up largely of those very sharp on the intricacies and practice of the Law? They who had no difficulty constantly accusing Jesus of breaking the Sabbath had no qualms about bending it to suit their own agenda!

     That it took several days to come back also tells us much about the dilemma of what the temple guards were sent to do. There had not been an opportunity to arrest Jesus. Especially with the kind of popularity he has, it would have been very difficult anyway. Knowing the people as they did, there was no way they could risk yet another insurrection.

     But, then, on top of that, there is the man himself. What he says and what he does honestly stumps them!

     The Sanhedrin accuses them of having been led astray. “Why did you not bring him?” they ask sharply in verse 45.

     Indeed, why didn’t they bring him in? Surely, this would be the opportunity to say the crowd dynamics were against them? Those who had sent them knew very well how quickly a riot could explode. Weren’t they themselves past masters at that evil art?

     But those temple guards don’t raise this. Instead, what they say actually shows how they have been distracted by Jesus. To answer, “No one ever spoke like this man!” is honestly true, but it’s not going to help them with the authorities.

     What their reply does give us, though, is an insight into the effect the Lord was having on the people. Those temple guards only reflected what others said about the teaching of Jesus. But they did say it. They were brave enough to honestly come out with this, even though they knew very well whose servants they were.

     In the words of J.C. Ryle, “They had never heard any man speak like this man. It tied their hands, and made them feel incapable of doing anything against him … They had never seen anyone exercise such influence over his hearers. They felt it useless to attempt arresting one who had such complete command over his audience.”

     So something had got to them. And it could have been what the Lord had declared in verses 37 and 38. There it is clear that what he taught was about the grace of God rather than any work of man.

     As we read there, “On the last day of the Feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow streams of living water.’”

     These words and others he used spoke deep and important truths in simple and striking language. And perhaps the Spirit John mentions in connection with this had touched them. It was all at once serious, convicting and loving!

     But the response they receive to their amazement at what Jesus said is all too predictable. As we turn now to the verses 47 till 49 we note, secondly, NO ONE OF IMPORTANCE BELIEVES HIM.

 

     It is a most negative response those temple guards receive from their masters. In verse 47 they reply to the temple guards, “Have you also been deceived?”

     What a terrible put–down! They are virtually told that they have been completely sucked in! The rulers’ words are full of indignation, sarcasm, ridicule and anger.

     Yes, there is a real hate here. They cannot stand this Jesus! And, so, as all the so-called enlightened classes do when so confronted, they shoot the messenger!

     There was a vivid example of this when a media commentator expressed her fear of living in an increasingly Muslim radicalised world. How much didn’t the chattering classes try to shut her down? And it was all through indignation, sarcasm, ridicule and anger!

     It was only through her Face-book page that the large majority of the public could openly share her concern in this. Twitter then was full of even more of the imperious intellectuals! One celebrity cancelled his twitter account after saying that it had become “a stalking ground for the sanctimoniously self-righteous”.

     How accurate that is as a description of the Sanhedrin! They are those who believe they have a ‘divine right’ to rule. And as for the rest of the population!

     Notice how they twist what the temple guards have said. For the temple guards had spoken of what Jesus said in a positively spiritual way. What Jesus said was godly – it was sincere grace and truth and because of that it was convincing and powerful.

     But the Sanhedrin turn this around to mean that he had cleverly tricked them. ‘Of course normal people don’t talk like this,’ they say, ‘it’s only the devious ones that do.’

     And then they really put the knife into those temple guards. They definitely put them in their place! In verse 48 they continue on, “Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him?”

     They are basically telling them – and all the common people they’re a part of – that they cannot have a mind of their own. ‘Don’t you try to have any thinking or opinion of your own,’ they declare to them. ‘We are the only ones who can do that here!’

     “Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him?” they shout at them. Well, have they? Oops, this is not a debate, is it? This is when people in power denigrate.

     But let’s also spot the lie this is. Because when you have a put down like this it is not showing how wise and considered they are. In fact, such a response really proves how clearly unwise and emotional they themselves are!

     They go on and say, “No! “But this crowd that does not know the law is accused.”

     Hey, what’s going on here? If these are the brilliantly enlightened ones here, they have just kicked an own goal! Here they actually confess that those they have the task of bringing up in God’s Law actually know nothing of the law.

     This is the most supreme arrogance. But it is also the worst possible stupidity. In the future this would be the very attitude that would bring about the destruction of Jerusalem as they then knew it. But they had no clue!

     Nothing new, is it? History has certainly shown this pompous perspective many times since – and before too!

     So NO ONE OF IMPORTANCE BELIEVES HIM. But that’s only because they are important in their own eyes.

     And how many times hasn’t the preaching of the gospel experienced this same reaction since? Those against Christ live in the fantasy world that those who don’t agree with them are completely ignorant. And they can even go to extensive lengths to make their point. Whether it is the modern day atheist or the the 17th Century Roman Catholic apologist they will lay their curse upon you too!

     The words of the apostle Paul cut through all their so-called earthly wisdom. In 1st Corinthians 1 verse 27 he says, “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.”

     There is only one way this is going to humanly speaking. In the words of the third aspect in verses 50 till 52, now we see, NO ONE LIKE THIS GETS LISTENED TO.

 

     It is Nicodemus who proves the lie to what the Sanhedrin has just proclaimed in verse 48. He who had spoken to Jesus earlier, and he who was one of their ruling council, asks, “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?”

     It is straight-away that the men who just denounced the “mob” for their ignorance are having their own ignorance exposed! And Nicodemus does it by the very rule of law! By his question he proves how very unlawful they are being in the case of Jesus. They who otherwise were so scrupulous about following the law will suspend all that when someone comes whom they cannot answer.

     Jesus exposes the lie they are. And, so, as corrupt regimes do everywhere, they must bury the truth!

     You see, in the eyes of the Sanhedrin Jesus was a deceiver, as we’ve seen in verse 47. Further, he was someone who had to be arrested, as we’ve also just read in verse 32 of chapter 7. And he was deserving even of the death penalty, as John 5 verse 18 had shown.

     But all this was completely contrary to the law of Moses. Exodus 23 verse 1 said that it was wrong to spread false reports and you aren’t to help a wicked man by being a malicious witness. And in Deuteronomy 1 it declares in verses 16 and 17, “Hear the disputes between your brothers and judge fairly, whether the case is between brother Israelites or between one of them and an alien. Do not show partiality in judging; hear both small and great alike. Do not be afraid of any man, for judgment belongs to God.”

     Justice must be impartial! It must always give a person a fair hearing before condemning him. Isn’t that why the statue of the woman found on a law court bears the scales of justice with a blindfold upon her eyes?

     Nicodemus hasn’t yet come to a genuine Christian confession. But he is brave to question the largest and most powerful force in his religious world.

     And how much didn’t that force express its contempt and resentment in verse 52? They really poured it all on Nicodemus! “Are you from Galilee too? Search and see that no prophet arises from Galilee.”

     By sharply asking Nicodemus if he is from Galilee isn’t to suggest that’s where he was born or finds his roots. It is actually to throw him into the camp of Jesus. ‘Oh, no, you’re one of them, are you?’ would be a similar aspersion.

     It really puts someone down in such a way they will gain no hearing. It dismisses them with a very nasty label. Just like the media calling someone a right wing fundamentalist tells the world we’ve got a loony here! And certainly being called a racist or a sexist means you can’t say anything anymore! 

     In the same way then anyone from Galilee was definitely from the backblocks. Out of Galilee came Jesus and out of Galilee came those who called him at least a prophet, as in Deuteronomy 18. But in Galilee the law was not studied as in Jerusalem! So cursed be those Galileans!

     These are all complete lies, though. This is what the Sanhedrin next saying to Nicodemus clearly proves. You see, they add to this vitriol the most blatant lie! “Search,” they shout, “and see that no prophet arises from Galilee.”

     But there were prophets that came out of that northern region of Israel. 2nd Kings 14 verse 25 tells us that Jonah the prophet came out of Gath Hepher which well and truly in that province. And then it seems quite certain that Hosea and Nahum came from that area. Besides, the Bible doesn’t tell us about where every prophet originated from.

     Now, to give the Sanhedrin a break, the word for “a prophet” here was “the prophet” in two early manuscripts. So they could be referring to the one great Prophet – the Messiah. Regardless of that, however, who are they to know where Jesus had been before he got to the point of coming out of Galilee?

     They are showing the utmost arrogance to presume they can make judgments on who God’s servants are or where they come from. But that’s exactly the point here, isn’t it? There is nothing reasonable about their actions here. They are hell-bent on doing away with Jesus!

     And so it is that to hell they are heading. In their rejecting the Christ they cannot be saved.

     This will lead to the inevitable trial and condemnation and crucifixion of Jesus. But let’s note how much injustice had to be done in order for that to take place. And increasingly we see the leaders of the Sanhedrin really lose it to their emotions.

     And that’s no surprise. None at all! This is very much the way of the devil behind it all, doing what he can through wicked men to do away with the Messiah.

     You know, it may even appear that those men are winning. Everything seems against the faithful believer. Just the slightest questioning of what is happening in this world has its scorn and punishment bare down on you! And that’s whether by the secular humanists in the western world or the pagan religious authorities in much of the rest of this world.

     Yet what is all that in the bigger picture? And if Christ had to bear up under it, who are we to expect any different? He who went all the way to death on the cursed cross also tells us in Luke 9:23 that we too must take up our crosses in following him.

     While the world may throw all its negativity and hatred upon us we must yet respond in love. Clearly and calmly we must state the truth. And while twitter might go into meltdown and the media go into overdrive it is actually bringing out all the more clearly whose they are.

     But perhaps it might make some open to where we are. Let’s pray and work that this might be. Amen.

 

 

PRAYER:

 

Let’s pray…

 

     O Lord God, may this indeed be! Please, by your Spirit, show us to be yours in all we do.

     And then may your Word and Spirit work in those around us to also see and believe. In the precious and saving name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.

 

 

 

    

 

 




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
The source for this sermon was: www.rcnz.org.nz

(c) Copyright 2022, Rev. Sjirk Bajema

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