Controversial Jesus

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We are on week 9 of our study in the book of John and we’re continuing with Chapter 7.

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John Chapter 7

Jesus at the Feast of Tabernacles 

After this Jesus travelled extensively throughout the province of Galilee, but he avoided the province of Judea, for he knew the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem were plotting to have him killed. Now the annual Feast of Tabernacles was approaching. So Jesus’ brothers came to advise him, saying, “Why don’t you leave the countryside villages and go to Judea where the crowds are, so that your followers can see your miracles? No one can see what you’re doing here in the backwoods of Galilee. How do you expect to be successful and famous if you do all these things in secret? Now is your time—go to Jerusalem, come out of hiding, and show the world who you are!” His brothers were pushing him, even though they didn’t yet believe in him as the Savior. 

 Jesus responded, “My time of being unveiled hasn’t yet come, but any time is a suitable opportunity for you to gain man’s approval. The world can’t hate you, but it does me, for I am exposing their evil deeds.  You can go ahead and celebrate the feast without me—my appointed time has not yet come.”

Jesus lingered in Galilee until his brothers had left for the feast in Jerusalem. Then later, Jesus took a back road and went into Jerusalem in secret. During the feast, the Jewish leaders kept looking for Jesus and asking around, “Where is he? Have you seen him?”

A controversy was brewing among the people, with so many differing opinions about Jesus. Some were saying, “He’s a good man!” While others weren’t convinced and insisted, saying, “He’s just a demagogue.” Yet no one was bold enough to speak out publicly on Jesus’ behalf for fear of the Jewish leaders.

Not until the feast was half over did Jesus finally appear in the temple courts and begin to teach. The Jewish leaders were astonished by what he taught and said, “How did this man acquire such knowledge? He wasn’t trained in our schools—who taught him?”

So Jesus responded, “I don’t teach my own ideas, but the truth revealed to me by the One who sent me.  If you want to test my teachings and discover where I received them, first be passionate to do God’s will, and then you will be able to discern if my teachings are from the heart of God or from my own opinions. Charlatans praise themselves and seek honor from men, but my Father sent me to speak truth on his behalf. And I have no false motive, because I seek only the glory of God. Moses has given you the law, but not one of you is faithful to keep it. So if you are all law-breakers, why then would you seek to kill me?”

Then some in the crowd shouted out, “You must be out of your mind! Who’s trying to kill you?”

Jesus replied, “I only had to do one miracle, and all of you marvel! Yet isn’t it true that Moses and your forefathers ordered you to circumcise your sons even if the eighth day fell on a Sabbath?  So if you cut away part of a man on the Sabbath and that doesn’t break the Jewish law, why then would you be indignant with me for making a man completely healed on the Sabbath? Stop judging based on the superficial. First you must embrace the standards of mercy and truth.”

Then some of the residents of Jerusalem spoke up and said, “Isn’t this the one they’re trying to kill? So why is he here speaking publicly and not one of the Jewish leaders is doing anything about it? Are they starting to think that he’s the Anointed One? But how could he be, since we know this man is from Galilee, but no one will know where the true Messiah comes from, he’ll just appear out of nowhere.” 

Knowing all of this, Jesus one day preached boldly in the temple courts, “So, you think you know me and where I come from? But you don’t know the One who sent me—the Father who is always faithful. I have not come simply on my own initiative. The Father has sent me here, and I know all about him, for I have come from his presence.” 

 His words caused many to want to arrest him, but no man was able to lay a hand on him, for it wasn’t yet his appointed time. And there were many people who thought he might be the Messiah. They said, “After all, when the Anointed One appears, could he possibly do more signs and wonders than this man has done?”

So when the Pharisees heard these rumors circulating about Jesus, they went with the leading priests and the temple guards to arrest him.

Then Jesus said, “My days to be with you are numbered. Then I will return to the One who sent me. And you will search for me and not be able to find me. For where I am, you cannot come.” 

 When the Jewish leaders heard this, they discussed among themselves, “Where could he possibly go that we won’t be able to find him? Is he going to minister in a different land where our people live scattered among the nations? Is he going to teach those who are not Jews? What did he really mean by his statement, ‘You will search for me and won’t be able to find me. And where I am you can’t come’?”

Rivers of Living Water

Then on the most important day of the feast, the last day, Jesus stood and shouted out to the crowds—“All you thirsty ones, come to me! Come to me and drink! 38 Believe in me so that rivers of living water will burst out from within you, flowing from your innermost being, just like the Scripture says!” 

Jesus was prophesying about the Holy Spirit that believers were being prepared to receive. But the Holy Spirit had not yet been poured out upon them, because Jesus had not yet been unveiled in his full splendour. 

Divided Opinions about Jesus

 When the crowd heard Jesus’ words, some said, “This man really is a prophet!”  Others said, “He’s the Messiah!” But others said, “How could he be the Anointed One since he’s from Galilee? Don’t the Scriptures say that he will be one of David’s descendants and be born in Bethlehem, the city of David?” So the crowd was divided over Jesus, some wanted him arrested but no one dared to lay a hand on him.

The Unbelief of Religious Leaders

So when the temple guards returned to the Pharisees and the leading priests without Jesus, they were questioned, “Where is he? Why didn’t you bring that man back with you?”

They answered, “You don’t understand—he speaks amazing things like no one else has ever spoken!”

The religious leaders mocked, “Oh, so now you also have been led astray by him? Do you see even one of us, your leaders, following him? This ignorant rabble swarms around him because none of them know anything about the Law! They’re all cursed!”

Just then, Nicodemus, who had secretly spent time with Jesus, spoke up, for he was a respected voice among them. He cautioned them, saying, “Does our law decide a man’s guilt before we first hear him and allow him to defend himself?”

They argued, “Oh, so now you’re an advocate for this Galilean! Search the Scriptures, Nicodemus, and you’ll see that there’s no mention of a prophet coming out of Galilee!” So with that their debate ended, and they each went their own way.

Study 

Here we have a story that involves manipulation, controversy, speculation and division where all of these deceptive flaws lead into one another. John Chapter 7 holds valuable life lessons I’d like to look at today.

In the beginning of this chapter we witness Jesus’ brothers ‘encouraging’ Him to do something against the will of the Father. Why was that? Were they jealous or were they wanting Him to be successful and famous and therefore encouraged Him as any loving family member would do?

I feel that there could possibly be a hidden motive of Jesus’ brothers in their attempt to get Jesus to unveil His splendour prematurely. The reason for this is the text states that, ‘they didn’t believe in Him as the Saviour’, so why would they encourage Him to go in all His glory to show Himself off and become “successful” and “famous”?

This type of behaviour can be seen in the world too. A person may encourage someone else to do something and on the face of it will look like encouragement but underneath, the motive is very different. Jealousy is at the centre and they are actually hoping that the person they are encouraging will indeed fail!

I love the way that Jesus dealt with this behaviour and He gives us such a great example. He moves aside from it, explaining to His brothers that they are free to celebrate with the world but He would not be partaking until His appointed time. Jesus’ eyes are fixed on the Father and His will and are not fixed on the expectations of man.

We are to be challenged to fix our eyes on God also, just as Jesus did.

We then move on to a scene where we see lots of people arguing, shouting out their opinions, the atmosphere is tense, with aggression and hostility in the air, people are battling it out to get their agenda across and they want to be in the right. The text describes it as controversy broke out. The word controversy is described in the dictionary as ‘a prolonged public disagreement’ or ‘heated discussion’.

In the world we generally see people take sides when in the middle of a debate. They believe one thing or the other. we see it all the time in politics, at work, at school, even in our families; disagreements where people listen to one side of the story and decide, “Yes, that’s true.”

How do we come to that conclusion though? If it’s with factual evidence then that’s fine but if it’s on the weight of a person’s argument, then we are only speculating. In this context there was a group of leaders that came up with the ideas that the people followed. These ideas came from scripture, the law of Moses but were interpreted by these power hungry leaders. The people who listened to what the religious leaders taught, believed it, lived their lives by it and were followers, which is again something we see in the world.

As we continue to see this debate unfold, there are many people throwing in lines of who Jesus might be and what He came to do. This is what is known as ‘speculation’. The problem with speculation is that they are developed without firm evidence. When we speculate we’re not totally sure that we’re right but the person with the loudest voice is normally the one that people will follow. Jesus deals with this so well by directing the people to the Father. Again though, they are unsure and we still have those with the loudest voices shouting their opinions and obtaining followers, which in this case were the people shouting, “You must be out of your mind! Who’s trying to kill you?”

The religious leaders knew that their plot was to do away with Jesus and they were using manipulation, controversy and speculation in an attempt to make Jesus look like a fool! 

What we see here again is people with their eyes fixed upon people. We’ve talked about this time and time again but this week here’s some evidence of what happens when we keep our eyes on people and not on God – Division.

The people had divided opinions on who Jesus was and then the religious leaders did too, it says at the end of the chapter that they each went their own way.

It happens so much in the world. We manipulate to get our own way, have people on our team, be the leader, the influencer, it can start with all good intention but before we know it our opinion dominates the group of people we are influencing then it spreads. It’s like Chinese whispers; we say something and then it’s repeated in another version. Before we know it people are believing something that doesn’t even exist. In a world full of people that have so many stories, we need to be listening and not be opinionated.

The issue is that when we listen, we are listening in order to respond. Not because we want to understand but because we all want to be right! And that’s what happened here. Listening resulted in a spread of opinions, with a little bit added and a little taken away. Then we see people try to make sense of nonsense and we see speculation. Along with that is guess work and because there’s no weight to the speculative opinions and comments, people lose faith, they lose hope and trust and they walk away.

Now, more than ever do we need to focus on the truth, the facts the evidential truth. We need to ensure there is weight to our stories and we need to be listening, not just to have an opinion but to understand. We need to be spreading the truth of Jesus and we need to be united in the truth of Jesus, not divided by manipulation, controversy or speculation.

This week’s study scripture:

2 Timothy 3:16 (NLT)

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.

6 R'S

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We believe that the word of God is powerful and life changing. When the word of God is applied to your life, you will be renewed!

4 thoughts on “Controversial Jesus

  1. Another great lesson! It’s amazing how He was right in front of them, but they couldn’t see for they were expecting someone else.

    Like

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