John 7 (1)
- Read John 7:1-17
In Verse 6, Jesus says, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always at hand.”
What in the world does that mean? My time has not yet come but your time is always at hand. Let’s think for a moment of the conversation that led up to this remark.
Verse 1 says, “After this, Jesus traveled in Galilee.” The word translated in this verse, in this translation is actually the word, “Walk”, because that’s the way Jesus traveled. He walked from place to place.
That is also the way He taught those closest to Him and the ones He would use to change the world. He fed into the disciples’ lives a little each day as they were walking. He would point out the birds of the air, and the fig tree, and the grape vines, and use them as illustrations to drive home truth. He used the scriptures in their lives each day, to impact and instruct them where they were.
That is also the best way to learn and grow as a believer today, little by little, a bit more each day.
In Psalm 63:1 David says, “
> Psalm 63:1 “You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.”
> Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
And in Jeremiah 29:13 we find this promise,
> Jeremiah 29:13 You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart.
You remember the lyrics to that old hymn, TRUST AND OBEY.
When we walk with the Lord,
In the light of His word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
Let us do His good will;
He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.
Trust and obey, for there's no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
There is no quick, easy way to Christian maturity. It is a daily, faithful walking with the Lord that brings maturity.
“Wisdom waits to be gathered. She cannot be bartered or sold. She is a gift for the diligent, and only the diligent will find her. The lazy man-the stupid man- never even looks.” (The Traveler’s Gift)
Growing and maturing as a believer is a daily thing and an ongoing thing. If you want to grow a squash, you can do so in a short amount of time, but to grow an oak that can stand against the storms, it takes years.
Oh and think of how Jesus ministered during those times of walking. He met Zaccehus in a tree, ate with him and the man was saved. He met the woman at the well, another divine appointment.
When you walk with the Lord day by day, you encounter people you can minister to. A word here, a prayer there, and example of following and trusting Christ there.
So often people want to do the big and exciting thing for God, but it is the faithful walking with Him day by day, that others see. It is when we are regularly, obediently walking with Him, that He sets up those divine appointments.
How many people have been harmed, by flash-in-the pan, supposed Christians, who start out claiming to be all of that, only to fall away from the Lord, the church and the faith, hurting the witness of all Christians.
Jesus has been walking through Galilee. He has been staying in the backwaters of Israel. The religious leaders wanted to kill Him for healing the man at the pool of Bethsadia, on the Sabbath, so Jesus has been staying out of sight. He’s been teaching, and healing in the wilderness.
But now, the festival of shelters or booths was coming up. This was a great, festive time. All of the Jewish men who lived within 20 miles of Jerusalem were expected to go to Jerusalem, and pilgrims from across the empire would go as well.
This festival was to be a time when the Israelites would remember how they traveled in the wilderness and how the Lord provided for them. All of the pilgrims would build booths, or temporary shelters along the walls of the city and in the surrounding countryside.
This was like a harvest celebration. The celebration would last 8 days, with feasting, and sharing memories with friends, and distant relatives. It was a time of catching up. A time of remembering, and a time of celebrating.
Jesus’ brothers are planning on going, and they wanted Jesus to go. They were tired of Jesus walking around the farming communities and wilderness areas. They said, “Jesus, if you’re really somebody, if you’re really going to start a movement, then go to the city. That’s where it’s happening. That’s where the crowds are. That’s where you can get a really big following. That’s where you can start a real movement.
Verse 5 tells us that not even his brothers believed in Him.
I don’t know how that would happen, or how it could happen, but at this point even His brothers didn’t believe in Him.
I really don’t understand that. How could you grow up in the same house as Jesus and not notice there was something different about Him? When you and your brothers were complaining about your chores, and Jesus doesn’t join in the complaining, didn’t that strike you as unusual? When you played games and Jesus never cheated, or tried to take advantage of you, you never noticed that? When other families had the oldest bullying their younger siblings and yet Jesus never did that to you, did that not make Him stand out? When Jesus was 12 and you had to go back to Jerusalem to find Him, and you find Him in the temple teaching the teachers, AT 12!, didn’t that make Him stand out?
You saw some of the miracles He did and heard some of His teaching, because the Bible records people telling Jesus that you wanted to see Him, did none of His miracles or teachings get through to you?
How in the world can someone be so blind? And yet, don’t we continue to see the same thing today? I don’t know about you, but I have family members who grew up in the church, who have had the opportunity to see the difference between Christian families and non-Christian families; who have had the opportunity to see how different lifestyles end up, who still reject Christ.
Oh, and speaking of blindness, how many Christians do we see who head off the narrow path and get tangled up in the cares and worries of the world, who get wrapped up again in the very sins the Lord delivered them from. How do they do that?
The non-believing brothers say, “Jesus, why don’t you go up to the festival and start a movement?”
How did Jesus answer?
- Read vvs 6-10.
Jesus says, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always at hand."
What does that mean? I believe it means 2 things.
1. If you are walking with the Lord, there is a time for everything.
My time has not yet come - Jesus was sensitive to the prompting and leading of His heavenly Father.
My Father hasn’t told Me to go up yet. Jesus prayed all the time and was sensitive to His Father’s leading and to His Father’s will.
> Luke 3:21 Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus was also baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened,
> Matthew 14:23 After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone.
> Mark 6:46 After bidding them farewell, He left for the mountain to pray.
> Luke 6:12 It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God.
> Mark 1:35 In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.
We could go on and on, there are so many verses in the Bible about Jesus praying. Why? Because He wanted His Father’s leading and guiding. He wanted to do what God wanted, in the way God wanted it, at the place God wanted it, at the time God wanted it.
It didn’t matter to Jesus when the festival started. It didn’t mater to Him if He was going to miss a few days. What mattered to Him was being in the Father’s will.
Oh my friend, when you seek the Lord’s timing and are seeking His will, it makes all the difference in the world.
- Read John 21:5-6
Do you really think moving the nets from one side of the boat to the other is going to make that much difference? No! It was obedience and doing what God tells you, when He tells you that made the difference.
- Read Luke Luke 5:1-7
They had been fishing all night long and caught nothing. Maybe the tides were wrong, or the moon was in the wrong phase, or there was so much stuff washed off the banks due to recent rains, that the fish weren’t where they usually were. All we know for sure is that this professional fishermen had fished all night and caught nothing. They were tired and discouraged.
When they went where Jesus told them, when He told them, and did what He told them, they caught so many fish their nets began to tear. They called their partners in the other boat and they caught so many fish the 2 boats began to sink. That’s a lot of fish.
Do you remember when the Israelites tried to enter the Promised land the first time? They had sent spies into the land and came back complaining about giants. They didn’t want to go in. The Lord told them, OK then, none of you will go in, you’ll wander in the wilderness for 40 years. You never will get to go in, only your children.
Feeling guilty, the next day and bunch of them tried to invade the land on their own, and the residents killed a bunch of them and sent the rest running. 40 years later, when they entered the Promised Land when, where and how the Lord told them to, they marched around Jericho 7 days. On the last day they marched around the city 7 times, and blew their horns, and all of the city walls came falling down, killing many of the city’s defenders.
Doing things God’s way, in God’s timing makes all the difference in the world.
2. If you aren’t walking with the Lord, you can do what you want, when you want, but without His blessing.
“Your time is always at hand.” You’re in league with the world. The world hates Me, but you are unbelievers. You have the same values, the same morals as the world. You dress like them. Act like them. Talk like them. If you’re not seeking the Lord’s direction, if you’re not seeking His will, you can do what you want, when you want, and it doesn’t matter, because He’s not leading you.
You live in the world. You act like the world. And you make decisions based on worldly wisedom and worldly counsel. You will get worldly results.
- Read James 4:13-17
Doesn’t this describe some of us? Funny. Do you know who wrote this book, the book of James? It is James the 1/2 brother of Jesus. One of the very ones John tells us didn’t believe in Jesus.
Somehow, someway, somewhere, James became a believer. Instead of doing his own thing, his own way in his own time, somewhere along the way, he became a believer in his 1/2 brother Jesus, and instead of doing his own thing, He did God’s thing.
Oh, and what a difference that decision made. James ended up becoming the pastor of the church in Jerusalem, and the Lord used him to write the book of James, recorded in our Bibles. What an impact this one-time unbeliever has made on the world, because of the change in his life. Being in God’s will, listening to His voice and seeking His will and timing makes all the difference in the world.
3. You can walk with the Lord and you can know His will
- Read John 7:17
Did you see the key to knowing God’s will? Did you see the key to understanding scripture? It is to decide you will do His will. “The key in dealing with God’s will is to commit to doing it before you know it. If you get on your knees before God and pledge to obey Him whatever He desires for you to do, He will guide you and use you through every phase of your life” (Don’t Quit Before you Finish, Jimmy Draper, p 45.)
A lot of people claim they want to know God’s will, but seem to never hear from Him; they seem to never know His will. One of the reasons so few people know God’s will, and so few people hear His voice is because they vacillate. They go back and forth. They want to hear what God has to say before they decide whether they want to obey Him or not.
“Most people fail at whatever they attempt because of an undecided heart. Should I? Should I not? Go forward? Go back. Success requires the emotional balance of a committed heart. When confronted with a challenge, the committed heart will search for a solution. The undecided heart searches for an escape. sic A committed heart does not wait for conditions to be exactly right. Why? Because conditions are never exactly right. Indecision limits the Almighty and His ability to perform miracles in your life. If (sic) He has put the vision in you-proceed. To wait, to wonder, to doubt, to be indecisive is to disobey God.” (The Gift of the Traveler, p 86).
Will you, or will you not walk with the Lord? Will you or will you not know and obey His will? To be decisive, to decide once and for all will make all the difference in the world, and 1 decisive person, can change the world.
July 2, 1863. It was a hot, humid day, and a schoolteacher from Maine was in the fight of his life. His name was Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, formerly a professor of rhetoric from Bowdoin College, presently a 34 year old Colonel in the Union army. The place? Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
The southerners had attacked up the hill 5 times already. Each time the union troops were able to repel them. But, now, 1/2 of their troops were dead. The majority of those remaining were injured. During the last attack, some of the Union troops under his command were forced to punch those attacking and the fighting took place on both sides of the wall. He didn’t know how they had pushed the Rebels back down the hill.
As they quickly surveyed the situation, it became apparent that there were less than 2 bullets per man remaining. For all intents and purposes, the 20th Maine was out of ammunition. Glancing downhill and seeing the attackers readying themselves for a final assault, looking at what seemed to be certain death, Chamberlain’s own officers counseled retreat. “They outnumber us,’ the men cried, and we have nothing with which to fight. It is hopeless. It is hopeless.’
Joshua Chamberlain stood quietly for a moment. Here they come sir, a sergeant said urgently. Chamberlain didn’t respond. He was calculating the cost of freezing, remaining, staying where he was. The cost, he determined, was essentially the same as running away.
“Joshua! His sergeant screamed. Joshua, give an order!
And so he did. Chamberlain knew that he ha not been put on this earth to fail. But failure is the only possible result of a life that accepts the status quo. We move forward, or we die! ‘Fix bayonets! he barked. And his men looked at him like he was crazy.
Excuse me sir? the sergeant asked, and for a moment they all just stood there and stared.
They’re coming came a yell from down the line.
Fix bayonets, I said! he yelled, and charge. As his men scrambled to fasten their steels, Chamberlain drew his sword, charged down the hill with his men following. It saved the Union army at the battle of Gettysburg, and saved the war. It turned the tide, one man charging in the face of impossible odds.
And yet, don’t we see that happening around the world in our own society today as well?
Historian Tom Holland is known primarily as a storyteller of the ancient world. Thus, his newest book Dominion: How the Christian Revolution Remade the World, came as something of a surprise for several reasons. First, Tom Holland is not a Christian. Second, Holland’s book is one of the most ambitious historical defenses of Christianity in a very long time.
While studying the ancient world, Holland writes, he realized something. Simply, the ancients were cruel, and their values utterly foreign to him. The Spartans routinely murdered “imperfect” children. The bodies of slaves were treated like outlets for the physical pleasure of those with power. Infanticide was common. The poor and the weak had no rights.
How did we get from there to here? It was Christianity, Holland writes. Christianity revolutionized sex and marriage, demanding that men control themselves and prohibiting all forms of rape. Christianity confined sexuality within monogamy. Christianity elevated women. In short, Christianity utterly transformed the world.
In fact, Holland points out that without Christianity, the Western world would not exist. Even the claims of the social justice warriors who despise the faith of their ancestors rest on a foundation of Judeo-Christian values. Those who make arguments based on love, tolerance, and compassion are borrowing fundamentally Christian arguments. If the West had not become Christian, Holland writes, “no one would have gotten woke.”