Summary: Here God shows us: 1. the harm that comes from hard-hearted people. 2. the habits of hard-hearted people. 3. the help Jesus can give to hard-hearted people.
God's Help for Hard-hearted People
The Gospel of John
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - May 11, 2016
(Revised June 28, 2019)
*Have you ever been hard hearted toward God? That spiritual madness has been spreading like wildfire over the last few decades. And I know something about this, because from the time I was about 16 until the age of 22, I was very hard-hearted toward God. I was a very skeptical, extremely liberal atheist.
*I was a card-carrying member of the ACLU, and I was cynical. Mostly I was cynical about God. I thought that Jesus was just an ordinary man or a myth like Zeus or Apollo. I was convinced that Christianity was just a man-made crutch for weak people to lean on in life.
*Then in 1973, God led me out to Louisiana in a miraculous way, and in 1975, by the grace of God, my co-worker Georgia Savoie invited me to church, and I got saved! God had been patiently at work on my heart for several years, and I gladly trusted in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. But I had been very hard hearted toward the Lord. I sadly remember inviting Christian witnesses into our home, just so I could ask them questions I knew they couldn't answer.
*Here in John chapter 2, the Apostle spoke about some other hard-hearted people, some of the most hard-hearted people who ever lived. They were "the Jews" who questioned John the Baptist back in John 1:19-28.
*In today's Scripture, they began to question Jesus. In vs. 18, John again called them "the Jews," but He obviously did not mean all of the Jews. After all, the Apostle John was a Jew, Jesus Himself was a Jew, and so were all of His followers in the beginning. When John speaks of "the Jews" in this context, he is talking about the hard-hearted religious rulers of the Jews, the scribes, chief priests and Pharisees who hatefully rejected Jesus Christ. (1)
*By the time we get to John 5, these Jews will be plotting to kill Jesus. And the tragic truth is that most of them were so hard-hearted toward the Lord that they refused to believe in Jesus, and they are lost in hell forever.
*But there is hope for the hard-hearted people still alive today. There is help for them from our God. We know this because 1 Timothy 2:3-6 tells us that "God our Savior desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time."
*Our God can change the hardest hearts. In Ezekiel 11:19-20, the LORD said:
19. "Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh,
20. that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God.
*Then in Ezekiel 36:26-27, the Lord made another promise:
26. "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
27. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.
*Our God can change the hardest hearts, and tonight's Scripture helps us understand how.
1. FIRST GOD SHOWS US THE HARM THAT COMES FROM HARD-HEARTED PEOPLE.
*We can see it in the way Passover came to be abused by these corrupt leaders. Many of us know the background of the Passover from the Book of Exodus. When the Lord first called Moses, God foretold that Pharaoh would resist letting the people go, so God promised to send terrible judgments on Egypt.
*In Exodus 3:18-20, the LORD said to Moses:
18. . . . "You shall come, you and the elders of Israel, to the king of Egypt; and you shall say to him, 'The LORD God of the Hebrews has met with us; and now, please, let us go three days' journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.'
19. I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not even by a mighty hand.
20. So I will stretch out My hand and strike Egypt with all My wonders which I will do in its midst; and after that he will let you go."
*Those wonders came in the form of ten terrible plagues that God sent on Egypt: Water turned to blood, then plagues of frogs, lice, flies, severe pestilence on their animals, boils, hail, locusts, and darkness.