Summary: This sermon examines characteristics of genuine faith as depicted in Jesus’ life. Real faith does not take presumptuous risks, it submits to God’s timing and it challenges the status quo.
Following God’s Plan
Fortifying the Foundations #16
7:1After this, Jesus went around in Galilee, purposely staying away from Judea because the Jews there were waiting to take his life. 2But when the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near, 3Jesus’ brothers said to him, "You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do. 4No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world." 5For even his own brothers did not believe in him.
6Therefore Jesus told them, "The right time for me has not yet come; for you any time is right. 7The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil. 8You go to the Feast. I am not yet going up to this Feast, because for me the right time has not yet come." 9Having said this, he stayed in Galilee.
10However, after his brothers had left for the Feast, he went also, not publicly, but in secret. 11Now at the Feast the Jews were watching for him and asking, "Where is that man?"
12Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, "He is a good man." Others replied, "No, he deceives the people." 13But no one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the Jews. NIV
Our story, this morning, begins six months after the close of chapter six. We know it was six months because chapter six occurred during the Passover and chapter seven occurred during the Feast of Tabernacles, which is approximately six months after the Passover.
Chapter six ended with most of Jesus’ followers leaving him. John 6:66
“From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.” NIV
After the crowd left him, Jesus turned to the disciples and asked them if they were going to leave also. That’s when Peter made that marvelous statement, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God." NIV
Verse 1 “After this”—after the disappointing result at Jerusalem recorded in John 6, Jesus goes back to Galilee and spends the next six months ministering in the villages of that area. He is confining himself to Galilee, purposely staying away from Jerusalem. The text says, “...because the Jews were waiting to take his life.” We are told exactly why Jesus stayed away from Jerusalem. And the reason seems very, very strange. He stayed away because there were people there in Jerusalem waiting for him so they could kill him.
Why would the all-powerful Son of God, the Creator of the heavens and earth, the Alpha and Omega, stay away from Jerusalem to protect himself from those people? Why would he avoid the conflict? Why doesn’t he zap them with a ball of fire the way Elijah did the Samaritan soldiers?Why doesn’t he just go there and deal with them so everybody can know he is the Son of God? When we answer those questions we answer a lot of questions about the way God works in our own lives. We learn a lot about how real faith operates.
I. Real faith does not take presumptuous risks.
For Jesus to go to Jerusalem without the Father’s directive would have been an act of presumption, not faith. Do you remember Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness? One of Satan’s suggestions was "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written: "`He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’"
Jesus’ answered "It is also written: `Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’" NIV (Matt 4:6-7)
When we move by our own initiate—when we are not living in true submission and dependence upon the Lord—but simply following our own will, we do not have the same protection and authority that is ours when we are walking in simple obedience. The promises of protection and authority in scripture are based upon an obedient walk with God. I’m not talking about perfection or sinlessness. But I am talking about a commitment to hear the Lord and obey Him rather than just follow our own inclinations.
It is amazing how religious people in presumption can sound so pious, so spiritual. They can talk the talk. But in reality they are not walking the walk. The devil was very religious when he was tempting Jesus. He talked the talk—he quoted scripture. But his suggestion was marked by two qualities: pride and self-interest. Anytime a person is motivated by pride and self-interest there’s a good chance he or she is in presumption, not faith.