Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: God draws criticism until we are drawn to God.

Scripture Introduction

A miller and his son were driving their donkey to sell at the market when they met a group of women: “Look there,” cried one, “did you ever see such foolish fellows, trudging on foot when they might ride?” The old man hearing this, quickly placed his son on the donkey and walked merrily beside.

Presently they happened upon some old men debating: “There,” said one, “it proves what I said. No respect is shown to old age these days. That idle lad rides while his old father has to walk. Get down and let the old man rest his weary limbs.”

Upon this the boy dismounted and the father got up, and they proceeded until they met a company of women and children: “Why, you lazy old fellow,” cried several tongues at once, “how can you ride upon the beast, while that poor little lad can hardly keep pace by your side?”

The good natured Miller immediately took up his son behind him. But before they reached town, a citizen called out: “Pray, honest friend, is that Donkey your own?”

“Yes,” replied the miller.

“One would not have thought so,” said the citizen, “by the way you load him. Why, you two fellows are better able to carry the poor beast than he you.” So the miller and his son got down, tied the legs of the donkey together, and with the help of a pole carried it on their shoulders over a bridge near the entrance to the town.

This entertaining sight brought crowds to laugh at it, till the donkey, disliking both the noise and the strange handling, broke the cords that bound him, and, tumbling off the pole, fell into the river and drowned. Trying to please everyone, they pleased no one, and lost the donkey in the bargain.

Many wise observations have been made about criticism.

• “Nothing can be stated so perfectly as not to be misunderstood.” - Philip Melanchthon

• Let the man who says it cannot be done not disturb the man doing it. - Chinese proverb

• To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing. - Elbert Hubbard.

• For every action, there is an equal and opposite criticism. - Harrison’s Postulate

• He has the right to criticize who has the heart to help. – Abraham Lincoln

The people around Jesus did not have the heart to help, but they did have the heart to criticize. Let’s read about it and consider the causes and application to us in John 7.

[Read John 7.1-13. Pray.]


A dilemma requires you chose between two options. The “trilemma” refers to three choices for how we respond to the person of Jesus: is he a 1) liar, 2) lunatic, or 3) lord.

John McDowell writes in More Than A Carpenter (25): “To say what Jesus said and to claim what he claimed about himself, one couldn’t conclude he was just a good moral man or prophet. That alternative isn’t open to an individual, and Jesus never intended it to be.”

McDowell is borrowing from C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (40-41): “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him, ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

Lewis refers to the astonishing “egocentric” (John Stott) claims Jesus makes:

• That he and the Father are one.

• That whoever has seen Jesus has seen God.

• That God the Father sent him to do his will.

• That he is the Savior of the World,

• The one source of eternal life and spiritual nourishment,

• The only way to God,

• The supreme judge of mankind,

• The light of the world,

• The resurrection and the life,

• The messiah, and

• The unique Son of God.

• Jesus says he has power to raise the dead and to heal the sick. And he claims authority over the Sabbath, authority to answer prayer, and authority to forgive sins.

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