Summary: God’s Messiah gives abundant life to all who accept him as he is offered in the Gospel.
A thermostat and a thermometer both relate to temperature. But they differ: a thermostat senses heat and starts the air conditioner. A thermometer only reports the heat.
The apostle John weaves a thermometer through his book. As he tells about Jesus, he also “feels the foreheads” of the religious leadership and reports their fever. And fevered they are. In the beginning they were curious—maybe flushed with the warmth of excitement. But the events we read about today occur only six months before Jesus’ crucifixion, and the heat is rising; the rulers of the church are hot around the collar. [Read John 7.25-36. Pray.]
Henry David Thoreau claimed that most men “live lives of quiet desperation.” To avoid that fate, he spent two years, two months and two days, alone in the woods of Walden Pond. He described his experiences in his 1854 book Walden, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” This is Thoreau’s philosophy of “abundant life” — as an early adopter of Darwinian evolution, he advocated a return to nature accompanied by a casting off of religion.
A different idea is illustrated by a “veteran mountain climber sharing his experiences with a group of novices preparing for their first major climb. He had conquered many of the world’s most difficult peaks, so he was qualified to give them some advice. ‘Remember this,’ he said, ‘your goal is to experience the exhilaration of the climb and the joy of reaching the peak…. If your purpose for climbing is just to avoid death, your experience will be minimal.’” (David Egnar, Our Daily Bread, February 13, 2003). Fear robs the climb of joy.
Sometimes Christians avoid the errors of Thoreau only to slip into those of a novice mountain climber. Professor David Egnar (Cornerstone University and RBC Ministries), who was listening to the mountain climber, said: “Jesus did not call us to live the Christian life just to escape hell. It’s not to be a life of minimum joy and fulfillment, but a life that is full and overflowing. Our purpose in following Christ should not be merely to avoid eternal punishment. If that’s our primary motivation, we are missing the wonders and joys and victories of climbing higher and higher with Jesus.”
Many voices call us to their path. Above the noise, however, if we have ears to hear, Jesus offers abundant life.
This church is not independent; we partner with other, like-minded congregations in a denomination called the PCA. One result of that relationship is that everyone who joins a PCA church makes identical membership vows, the second of which asks: “Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God and savior of sinners, and do you receive and trust him alone for salvation as he is offered in the gospel?”
That last phrase is relevant to our text: Jesus, “as he is offered in the gospel.” The Son of God stands in a crowd. I could imagine all falling on their faces before him. Yet they do not, because they wanted a Messiah different than God offered.