Summary: When Jesus' enemies could not handle the truth of Jesus' words, their final argument was violence, preceded by an attempt to demonize him. Many fear that Christians are being demonized, and the next argument of society will be violence.
SERIES TITLE: VIOLENCE, THE WORLD’S FINAL ARGUMENT AGAINST CHRISTIANITY
Sermon # 1: IF WE WERE OF THE WORLD, THE WORLD WOULD LOVE US
A. Many fear that we are on the threshold of increasing violence against Christians. The residual effects of Christianity are wearing thin, and we are, as a nation, becoming more and more secular, making Jesus’ warning to his first century disciples more and more relevant to his 21st century disciples (John 15:18-20).
B. When the world sees itself losing the debate about sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:7-11), its final argument becomes violence.
C. We begin our exploration of this unpleasant thought with Jesus:
1. The scribes and Pharisees are having an ongoing debate with Jesus, which began when Jesus declared himself to be the light of the world (John 8:12) and continues throughout chapter 8.
2. Their final argument is in v. 59, the argument of violence.
D. This argument did not catch Jesus by surprise, and it should not catch us by surprise either (John 17:14).
I. THE WORLD HAS AN EARTHBOUND ORIENTATION (John 8:21-29)
A. In v. 21, Jesus says they will die in their “sin,” but in v. 24 he says, “I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins” (John 8:24, ESV).
1. The singular of v. 21 is the sin of unbelief, as in John 3:16-18.
2. The plural in v. 24 shows that the sin of unbelief spawns many other sins, as in John 3:19-21.
B. Ethnically, religiously, and biologically, they descended from the same father, Jacob, as was Jesus, but their spiritual DNA is derived from Esau (Rom 9:1-13; 1 John 4:1-6).
1. We no longer live in a monolithic society in which we can assume that our neighbors have the same basic beliefs and values as do we. The gap seems destined to widen.
2. Christian youth who may have lived somewhat shelter lives, are often confronted with “the other world” when they go away to college—even a Christian college, sometimes.
C. In spite of their earthbound orientation, some did come to believe (v. 30), but Jesus’ response suggests that their belief might be what has become known as easy-believism.
II. BEYOND EASY BELIEVISM (John 8:31-33)
A. Jesus wanted to lead them to true discipleship, but their earthbound orientation caused them to take offense.
1. The statement that they had never been in bondage was false. Jesus could have reminded them of Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, and Rome, under which they chafed as they spoke.
2. Jesus does not address that falsehood, because there is a greater bondage and a greater freedom (vv. 34-36; 1 Cor 7:20-24; 2 Pet 2:18-22).
3. There are not so blind as those who will not see (vv. 37-47).
B. Unable to deal with Jesus’ argument, they shift the ground to Jesus and seek to dismiss him by dehumanizing him, with their final argument being violence (vv. 48-57).
III. THE FINAL ARGUMENT OF THE WORLD TO DISCIPLES MAY BE CLOSER THAN WE THINK
A. The Nazis dehumanized the Jews before they tried to wipe them from the face of the earth.
B. The U.S. Supreme Court dehumanized slaves in the Dred Scott Decision of 1857.
C. This same court and millions of Americans, including many professed disciples, have dehumanized the unborn, permitting their slaughter.
D. How long will it be before Christians are dehumanized and demonized by those of an earthbound orientation?
A. The psalmist asks the question: “if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psa 11:3).
B. The short answer is found in the first verse of the chapter: “In the Lord I take refuge.”
C. There is no cause to flee to the mountains like a bird, because “The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord's throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man. The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence. Let him rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup. For the Lord is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face (Psa 11:4-7).
D. In the second sermon of this two-part series, we will show that God is still on his throne and in charge, and it is to his throne we can flee.