DISINFORMATION, AGENDAS, FEARS, AND UNCERTAINTY: Everyone has an opinion about Jesus, but most of them are wrong.
- John 7:1-14.
- We live in a time when people often talk as though all opinions are equally valid. You have your opinion and I have mine and we can both be right. (This is often held to be possible even when the two opinions are contradictory. That, of course, is logically impossible, but that’s a different sermon on the nature of truth.)
- Here in this passage we have a variety of opinions about Jesus. But they’re not right about Him.
- Looking around at those surrounding us and choosing to believe what they believe can lead to some destructive choices.
- At this point, the vast majority of the opinions about Jesus are disinformation, prior agendas, fears, and uncertainty.
- Finding the truth doesn’t happen by putting your finger in the air and seeing which way the wind is blowing.
- I want to talk for a minute about the three groups that this passage points out and how each of them had wrong opinions about Jesus. Then I want to look at how Jesus rightly handled all this.
1. JESUS' BROTHERS: “Put up or shut up!”
- John 7:3-5.
- It is interesting that His own brothers don’t buy into Him.
- We might expect that in Jesus’ childhood there were indications of greatness. We might presume that there would be signs of what was to come. But apparently not.
- Instead, we find His brothers in disbelief.
- The point His brothers were making was less “go to the feast” and more “go public.”
- They’re saying, “If You’re really that guy, then go prove it to everyone!”
- Undoubtedly they were thinking of a political Messiah, as most Jews were at this time. So they are calling on Him to go to Jerusalem and stand up.
- Might it be that His brothers were embarrassed or fed up with what He was doing and their statements here are a “let’s go disprove this nonsense” thing?
- What were the timetable issues here?
- One major one is that Passover is in six months. Jesus is to die as the Passover lamb. The Passover is in approximately April. This passage is the Feast of the Tabernacles, which is about six months before that in October.
- John’s gospel goes from the previous Passover in chapter 6 to this festival in the fall. The Synoptic gospels fill in the details of some of what happened in the intervening months.
- The passage is a difficult one because it sounds like Jesus lies. Is it that He says He won’t go and then He does?
- I think His statements are consistent. His brothers are not simply encouraging Him to go up to the Feast at all, but they are encouraging Him to go up and make a show. This Jesus does not do. And when He does finally make His presence in Jerusalem know, it’s not as a conquering king, but as a quiet teacher (v. 14).
2. JESUS' ENEMIES: “Where is He so we can kill Him?”
- John 7:1, 11.
- We know that a recurring theme throughout the gospels is the desire of the Pharisees and the religious teachers to see Jesus neutralized. They recognize that He is a threat to their power and they want Him taken out.
- We see instances of that here with Jesus staying out of Judea because of the threat to His life (v. 1) as well as the Jewish leaders keeping an eye out for Jesus during the Feast so that they can try to take Him out (v. 11).
- Whereas Jesus’ brothers were basically saying “Prove Yourself!”, the religious leaders did not need to see any more. What they had seen was more than sufficient to convince them. It did not convince them of Jesus’ divinity, but rather of Jesus’ dangerousness. He was a threat to their nation. He was a threat to their place in society. They didn’t need to see any more – they had fully made up their mind. He had to be killed.
- It’s easy to say that anyone who would stand against Jesus must just not understand who He really is and what He stands for. I think that’s a misguided thought, though. Jesus came with an agenda and that agenda put Him at odds with many people.
- Often, they didn’t hate Him because they misunderstood Him. They hated Him because they understood Him perfectly.
- Jesus wasn’t a harmless Mr. Rogers who wouldn’t step on anyone’s toes. Jesus came with a Kingdom to populate, truth to proclaim, entrenched hypocrites to root out, and disenfranchised to rescue. You bet He made some people mad.
3. THE CROWD: “Good man or deceiver?”
- John 7:12-13.
- The public is divided over Jesus. Some see Him as a deceiver who is after power. Others think He is a good man.
- The first opinion is further away from the truth, but the second opinion doesn’t exactly nail it either. Even though who see Him as a good man don’t fully comprehend who He is or what He’s doing. Their thoughts are closer but are still sorely short of full comprehension.
- Another thing worth pondering here is that sometimes we presume that the truth about something is determined by the majority of people. So in this case we see if more people think Jesus is good or bad. In truth, though, the people’s opinions don’t change the reality of the situation: Jesus is the Son of God. That remains true whether people agree with the assertion or not.
THE TIMELINE: Jesus intended to be who the Father said He was.
- John 7:6, 8-10.
- This echoes chapter 6 and the poor motives that the crowd had. (They wanted Jesus as king so they could have more bread.) Jesus declines to be who they want Him to be.
- The ideas in vv. 6, 8-10 also show up in v. 30.
- Why did He want to wait instead of going up and making a strong appearance?
- We get a taste of that in John 12:19. Jesus has His Triumphal Entry and the response of the Pharisees is panic that “the whole world has gone after Him.” This would, of course, demand a strong response.
- Avoiding that at this point in His ministry helped avoid that climactic conflict with the Pharisees.
- What might doing something similar look like in our lives?
a. Dig into the Bible to find God’s truth.
b. Seek truth over comfort.
c. Don’t rely on public opinion.