Summary: Choosing to not seek God is still an active choice. There is no sense of spiritual neutrality.
This morning I believe God wants us to engage our myth of neutrality. Now there are some things in life that may allow for some level of neutrality…. issues that make no claims upon our lives or the lives of anyone else. A country may choose to be neutral in response to two countries that engage in conflict if they have no relationship or practical connection to either country….but if a country comes and engages us… neutrality is simply not an option. We are now a party in the situation. When something or someone engages us, response is inescapable. Often we may think we are avoiding or not responding… but we are fooling ourselves because the lack of response is itself a response… a choice.
As we continue in our series…a Journey with Jesus through the Gospel of John… we are reminded that we are engaged with the least neutral figure to ever enter the human arena. The truth is that every time Jesus came to town… what he declared and did forced all to respond… to make choices. The first time, he cleaned out the temple, and drove the animals and birds, and moneychangers out of what he called, “My Father’s house.” On his next visit to Jerusalem we saw him heal a man who had been paralyzed for 38 years. Many were blessed but it stirred up murder in the hearts of the religious leaders.
And now…he’s coming to town again, and who knows what will happen this time?
It wasn’t that he came to Jerusalem often- for at least six months he had been ministering in Galilee, 80 miles to the north, but hope and challenge he presented was only growing , affecting everyone in the city. In fact in another 6 months, it will finally result in his crucifixion.
TEXT TO BE PRINTED AND REFERRED TO
John 7:7, 10-18, 40-53 (NIV)
7The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil.
10 “…after his brothers had left for the Feast, he went also, not publicly, but in secret. 11 Now at the Feast the Jews were watching for him and asking, "Where is that man?" 12 Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, "He is a good man." Others replied, "No, he deceives the people." 13 But no one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the Jews. 14 Not until halfway through the Feast did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach. 15 The Jews were amazed and asked, "How did this man get such learning without having studied?" 16 Jesus answered, "My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me. 17 If anyone chooses to do God's will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. 18 He 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.
40 On hearing his words, some of the people said, "Surely this man is the Prophet." 41 Others said, "He is the Christ." Still others asked, "How can the Christ come from Galilee? 42 Does not the Scripture say that the Christ will come from David's family and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?" 43 Thus the people were divided because of Jesus. 44 Some wanted to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him. 45 Finally the temple guards went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, "Why didn't you bring him in?" 46 "No one ever spoke the way this man does," the guards declared. 47 "You mean he has deceived you also?" the Pharisees retorted. 48 "Has any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him? 49 No! But this mob that knows nothing of the law--there is a curse on them." 50 Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier and who was one of their own number, asked, 51 "Does our law condemn anyone without first hearing him to find out what he is doing?" 52 They replied, "Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee." 53 Then each went to his own home.
Feast of Tabernacles - It was one of three times all Jewish men were required to go to Jerusalem. It commemorated the time their forefathers dwelt in tents in the wilderness.
Already lots of expectations rising… and Jesus is navigating what he senses as the Father’s time. Does not go to the Feast in Jerusalem at it’s start nor with his followers but rather waits and comes quietly. For even without him the religious leaders are searching for him and the people are talking all about him… but all in fear.