Summary: Explores Jesus interaction with the Pharisees--their choice--and the eternal consequence of their choice. The issues people face today are essentially the same.
Eternal Choices Eternal Destinies
Fortifying the Foundations # 20
There is in the passage before us this morning a life and death struggle going on in the hearts of these Pharisees and in the crowd that is listening to their dialogue with Jesus. The issues are eternal and they are basically the same ones people deal with today. Tragically some of the characters in this story make choices that will lead to eternal death. They are offered life by the only one qualified to give life. And they reject the invitation. But how is it that they could be standing face to face with Jesus Christ himself and still not receive life? What would cause a person to make the kind of choice these religious leaders are making? Where is their fear of God? What has emboldened them to challenge the creator of heaven and earth?
I. We begin this morning with Jesus’ Gracious Invitation to follow him.
It is after the Feast of Tabernacles—possibly the eighth day (which had been added to the seven day event) or possibly a day or so after that. We don’t know exactly. But the activities of the Feast would have been fresh on everyone’s mind. As you recall the purpose of the Feast was to celebrate the harvest and to give thanks to God for delivering Israel out of Egyptian slavery. During that week they even lived in temporary booths (tents) to help them remembers God’s faithfulness to their forefathers during Israel’s wilderness journey. How many remember the Pillar of Cloud by day and the Pillar of Fire by night as Israel traveled from Egypt to the promise land. It was a supernatural manifestation of God’s presence with and His care for His people. It gave them the light they needed at night and the guidance they needed both day and night.
One of the most spectacular events during the Feast of Tabernacles was the lighting of the great candelabra. The crowd would watch each night during the celebration as young men climbed 75 feet in the air to pour oil in the four huge candelabra and light up the whole temple area. With electricity we are used to well light streets and malls in our society. But this was quite a spectacle for these first century Jews. Imagine their joy and imagine the impression it made on their minds as they watched the temple area light up.
The darkness of the first night after the feast was quite a contrast. Now as Jesus sits at the temple court teaching he says to them, “I am the Light of the world” –not just a light to light up the temple area, although all of that was in anticipation of me, not just the light of Israel, but I am the Light of the whole world. I am the promised Messiah!
Listen to just a few scriptures that identified the coming Messiah as the Light of the world.
Isa 42:6-7 "I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness;I will take hold of your hand.
I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, 7to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.” NIV
5And now the LORD says--he who formed me in the womb to be his servant to bring Jacob back to him and gather Israel to himself, for I am honored in the eyes of the LORD and my God has been my strength-- 6he says:
"It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles,
that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth." NIV
Do you remember after Jesus was born, Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to the temple to consecrate him to the Lord and there was an elderly saint there by the name of Simeon who prayed of Jesus? Luke 2:25-32
“Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
29"Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace.
30For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31which you have prepared in the sight of all people, 32a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel." NIV