Summary: People may reject Jesus’ word, but that rejection does not invalidate His message. Jesus did not discover the Way; He declared, “I am the Way.”
“Everything from Above” Pastor Bob Leroe, Cliftondale Congregational Church, Saugus, Massachusetts
Verses 7-8, “Now they know that everything You have given Me comes from You, for I gave them the words You gave Me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from You.”
Not everyone knows this! In response to skeptics, it’s been noted that “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; Christianity has been found difficult and left untried” (Chesterton). People may stumble upon the truth, but many of them dismiss it. Belief doesn’t create truth; it helps us to understand what is real. Unbelief doesn’t destroy truth. We who put our trust in Jesus know what we believe and why. We know Who Jesus is, where He came from, and why He came to this earth.
“Faith is looking at a sunset and knowing Who to thank.” We know that everything Jesus said and did was divine in origin. We know that Deity took human form and lived among us. The word “know” in verse 7 means to understand with confidence. Ours isn’t some “hope-so” faith, but a “know-so” trust--a confident faith. Ours is also a reasonable faith; we don’t have to commit intellectual suicide to become a believer. We’ve been enlightened, and we know Who to thank.
Certainty does not mean that we have everything in Scripture all figured out. We struggle over some of the hard sayings of Jesus. He did not intend to make things easy for us. Jesus is the Way, but His way involves some effort on our part. Even His own followers struggled; John the Baptist asked for reassurance: “Are You the One who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” When some of Jesus’ followers left Him, He turned to Peter, asking if he too would desert. Peter replied, “Where else can we go? You alone have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).
When I was stationed in Hungary (98), I visited several churches that had been operating underground during the Communist regime. One was meeting in a huge, converted warehouse. I attended the grand opening of a more traditional-looking Baptist church in Kaposvar, which was covered by Hungarian TV--a far cry from the days of Soviet oppression. I heard of a Baptist college professor who was allowed to openly train people in theology, in Budapest. At a well-attended class, he lost track of time and realized that he had lectured into the students’ break time (just try doing that at UMASS!); he apologized for holding them over into the break, but was interrupted by a student who said, “Professor, don’t stop. We’ve had 40 years of break.” They truly appreciated learning about Jesus, the Light of the world, after so many years in darkness.
Over the centuries scholars have carefully labored to rightly interpret Jesus’ teachings. It’s no surprise that more has been written about Jesus than about any other person in history. He challenged people to think, to figure out what He meant. Jesus called His hearers to give up their old way of life, their worldview, and trust Him for a new set of goals. He calls us from our places of comfort and asks us to walk His narrow pathway.
Why do people reject Jesus and His message? Often because they prefer to walk their own way, to make their own rules, to follow their own decisions. They don’t want to surrender to Jesus. It also takes humility to turn to Jesus; this turning means we don’t have all the answers; we need what He alone has to offer.
How was Jesus able to do all He did? According to verse 7, by His connection to the Father. Everything Jesus had came from Above. In John 14, Jesus explains, “I am in the Father and the Father is in Me. The words I say are not My own, but My Father who lives in Me does His work through Me.” His words and work confirm that He is our Savior, sent from the Father. Through Jesus, God was personally present with His people. For 30 years the glory of God had a human face. His coming changed everything.
You’d think the religious leaders and teachers would have welcomed a message from God, but they did not. Jesus was seen as a threat to their influence and authority. They rejected the message and the Messenger. To them, Jesus’ words were not “Good News”. Jesus is often seen challenging tradition, disagreeing with popular ideas, placing truth in stories, and issuing some abrasive statements. His words and actions offended people. He associated with unpopular people, the “unclean”. He spent time with outcasts, undesirables, sinners—showing a radical acceptance, that God’s Kingdom welcomes all people. Jesus offended the high and mighty by the company He kept. He did not conform to everyone’s expectations.