Summary: Religion hung Jesus on a cross. It is time to stop and ask the question, "Is the Holy Spirit in our churches or is religion our God?"
March 23, 2002
Text: John 11:45-57
Title: Resisting the Truth
I’m proud to be from Missouri. The nickname, "The Show-Me State" has always had a lot of meaning to me. I don’t think that it refers to a state full of doubting Thomases. On the contrary, I think it speaks of common sense people who don’t jump to conclusions, who carefully weigh things before they make decisions, and are not easily swayed from their beliefs. We are a people who will stand up for what we believe in, and will not be distracted from our purpose in life. I know that I am speaking in general terms, but don’t you think that is a fair assessment of Missourians in general?
Now let’s go a step further. I think Missouri Christians fall into the same mode. Many have been in church all their lives. Others are new to Christianity. But one thing they do agree about. These are the things we have always been taught about our faith and we are going to stick to it. Good for them! Right? Well, maybe not. Like many others times in the history of Christianity, the idea of change threatens the masses. Every time a new, but completely biblical understanding of scripture comes along there are always those who are skeptical. Every time there has been a great revival break out, wherever in the world it might have been, the volunteer fire department has been there to put out the fire of the Holy Spirit, or at least attempt to.
Battle lines are drawn over theology. Fights break out over personal understanding of scripture. Arguments continue across denominational lines. Where change comes, intimidation follows. And the church languishes in yesterday’s anointing. You know, we aren’t going to agree about everything, especially religion. But we don’t need to make any more enemies than the church already has.
There was a man who celebrated his 100th birthday and a news reporter was sent out to talk to him and find out the secret of his longevity. The old man said, "I don’t have an enemy in the world." The reporter was in awe of this and asked how he was able to manage such an amazing feat. The old man, replied, "I don’t have any enemies because I have outlived them all."
It is good to get along with people but not at the cost of backing down from the word of God. As a minister of the gospel of Christ, my duty is not to make enemies, but to rightly divide the word of truth, with conviction and without compromise. So when you hear me preach something that may be a little different than what you have ever heard, go ahead, be a Missourian and then let me show you.
Our passage today takes place just before the last Passover of our Lord. Jesus has just raised Lazarus from the dead and many came to know the Lord because of that miracle. But there was a group of "Show Me" religious people out there who didn’t want to see the truth that was right before them.
We want to look at three things today that hindered those people from having the kind of relationship with God He desires.
First, there was a problem. The miracles and ministry of Jesus was different than anything they had ever seen.
Second, even though their religious leader received a word form God, they would not believe it.
Third, they would not be satisfied until the "boat rocker? was eliminated."
Church, be ready for opposition from "religious" people. They will not be satisfied until the fire is put out.
I. The problem. (Verses 45-48) The miracles of Jesus. What God had intended to draw people to Jesus had the opposite effect on the "religious". John 5:36, Jesus said, "But I have a greater witness than John?’s: for the works which the Father has given Me to finish - the very works that I do - bear witness of Me that the Father has sent Me." John 5:40, "But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life."
The religious people had watched Jesus perform miracle after miracle, one supernatural act after another, culminated by the raising of Lazarus, and they still were saying, "show me." John 3:2 Nicodemus, a teacher of the people, said to Jesus, "Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with Him." Paul wrote, "The Jews request a sign." Matthew 12:38, "Then some of the scribes and the Pharisees answered, saying, "Teacher, we want to see a sign from You".
Jesus’ response? "An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign." What Jesus was doing was not new.