Summary: Why do so many people misuderstand the true identity of Jesus? Many times it is a choice.
Who is Jesus Christ? This is the ultimate question. Many answers have been given.
• Muslims believe Jesus was a great prophet sent by God, but superseded by Mohammed.
• Buddhists believe Jesus was a wise and enlightened man.
• Mormons believe Jesus was a man who became a god.
• Jehovah’s Witnesses believe Jesus was the first creation of Jehovah.
• The Church of Scientology believes Jesus is one of many good teachers.
The title of the cover story in the March 31, 2008 edition of MacLean’s magazine was “Jesus Has an Identity Crisis.” The article quotes Gretta Vosper, pastor of West Hill United Church in suburban Toronto. Here are a few statements she makes about Jesus:
“In trying to capture exactly what [Jesus] said, we have found, quite by accident, that what he said has little power” (p. 41).
“If we say we follow Jesus without clarification, we allow the assumption that we agree with all of his ideas, including the bad ones” (p. 41).
“Why do we need a ‘revolutionary’ voice from two millennia ago to guide us? We have fabulous ideas of our own, that are constantly weakened by having to tie them back to Jesus and Scripture” (p. 42).
People are no less confused about the true identity of Jesus today than they were back in His day. He is still misunderstood.
Confusion about Jesus in John 7 and 8 (these two chapters take place during the Feast of Tabernacles, except for 7:53-8:11):
• “He is a good man” (v. 12).
• “No, he deceives the people” (v. 12).
• “You are demon-possessed [crazy]” (v. 20).
• “Surely this man is the Prophet” (v. 40).
• “He is the Christ” (v. 41).
SCENE ONE (7:14-24)
There are three groups of people in this passage:
(1) “The Jews” (v. 15, 35) – the religious leaders and enemies of Jesus, who hated Jesus and wanted Him killed.
(2) “The crowd” (v. 20) – pilgrims in Jerusalem because of the Feast, who were unaware of the plot to kill Jesus.
(3) “The people of Jerusalem” (v. 25) – people residing in Jerusalem, who were aware of the plot to kill Jesus.
14Not until halfway through the Feast did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach. 15The Jews were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having studied?”
16Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me. 17If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. 18He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him. 19Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?”
20“You are demon-possessed,” the crowd answered. “Who is trying to kill you?”
21Jesus said to them, “I did one miracle, and you are all astonished. 22Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a child on the Sabbath. 23Now if a child can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing the whole man on the Sabbath? 24Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment” (John 7:14-24).
• Subject: The TEACHING of Jesus
• Question: Where did this man get such learning?
“How did this man get such learning without having studied?” (v. 15). Jesus had never received any rabbinical training, yet He possessed an amazing knowledge of the Scriptures.
• Answer: HEAVEN
“My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me” (v. 16). His diplomas were divine.
Originality was not prized by the Jews. A rabbi would teach by quoting other rabbis. If a teacher didn’t quote others, he was considered arrogant. Jesus often began His teaching with the phrase “I tell you the truth.” He didn’t quote other teachers. (He was also different from the OT prophets who began with the phrase “Thus says the LORD.”) But Jesus’ teaching was not His own. It came from the Father (“him who sent me”).
When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law (Matthew 7:28-29).
Jesus’ authority came directly from the Father.
• Irony: Jesus, the all-knowing Son of God, was regarded as an uneducated person.
The “one miracle” to which Jesus refers in v. 21 was His healing of the lame man in chapter 5. This miracle was performed on the Sabbath.