Regardless of Outside Pressure

Dr. Rob Green April 18, 2021 John 7:1-53
Outline

John 20:30-31 - Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.

John 1:11-13 - He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

4 ways to resist unhelpful pressure

I. Seek to Do God’s Will in God’s Time (7:1-13)

A. Sometimes unhelpful voices offer advice

John 7:3 - Therefore His brothers said to Him, “Leave here and go into Judea, so that Your disciples also may see Your works which You are doing. For no one does anything in secret when he himself seeks to be known publicly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.” For not even His brothers were believing in Him.

B. Happily obey when the time is right (7:6-13)

II. Trust Christ’s Words (7:14-36)

A. His words are from the Father (vv. 16-17)

B. His words are for the Father’s glory and not His own (vv. 18)

C. His words are convicting (vv. 19-20)

John 7:19-20 - “Did not Moses give you the Law, and yet none of you carries out the Law? Why do you seek to kill Me?” The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who seeks to kill You?”

D. His words are authenticated by works (vv. 21-24)

E. His words are controversial as predicted (vv. 25-36)

John 7:30-31 - So they were seeking to seize Him; and no man laid his hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come. But many of the crowd believed in Him; and they were saying, “When the Christ comes, He will not perform more signs than those which this man has, will He?”

III. Appreciate the Ministry of the Holy Spirit (vv. 37-44)

John 7:37-39 - Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

A. Every believer has the privilege of being indwelt by the Spirit

B. Every believer enjoys the benefits of the indwelling work of the Spirit

C. The presence of the Spirit is a reminder of who Christ is and the work He completed

IV. Refuse to Be Intimidated by Threats and Arguments (vv. 45-52)

A. Lame Argument #1: No one important believes

John 7:48 - No one of the rulers or Pharisees has believed in Him, has he?

B. Lame Argument #2: No prophet arises from Galilee

Luke 2:4-6 - Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth.

This is sermon #13 on John’s gospel. Each week we try to show how John proves

John 20:30-31 Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.

Our applications normally are first directed to those who are undecided about Jesus. Some have yet to commit to believing that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in Him you may have life in his name.

  • It is our desire that none of you remain undecided. It is our desire that you place your faith and trust in Christ and that you choose to live all your remaining days for him.
  • There is one sense where the application point for you is the same every single week – Repent and believe. Repent and believe. Repent and believe.
  • It is a simple message explained in every passage John wrote.

We have also explained that John’s gospel was written for believers. Many of us made our decisions years, even decades ago. We decided to believe that we must be born again, that we needed the living water and the bread of life. We believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God.

  • In our case, John’s gospel is designed to grow our faith -- to confirm in our hearts that there is no greater cause than the cause of Christ.
  • Jesus is worth our time, our energy, our focus, and our lives.

Today, we are going to study John 7:1-52. Since the passage is so long, I am not going to read the whole thing at the beginning. Instead, I am going to read it and explain it as we go. Please open your Bible to John 7. That is on page ____ of the back section in the Bible under the chairs.

We arrive at John 7 on a down note. We started so strong.

  • Jesus turned water in wine (2:1-12); cleansed the temple pointing people to his own body (2:13-25); told Nicodemus that he must be born again (3:1-21); offered living water to the Samaritan woman (4:1-45); equated himself with God by proving that he had both spiritual and physical resurrection power (5:1-47); and that we was the bread of life (6:1-71).
  • He is awesome. The text about him is awesome. But we also find …

Chapter 7 shows the growing opposition to our savior. This is not terribly surprising.

John 1:11-13 He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

We knew there would be a group who accepted and a group who rejected. The group that rejects becomes more vocal and more intense. However, this passage has some amazing truth for you and me.

Our series is called Enjoying life in His Name. The title of this sermon is Enjoying Life in His name regardless of outside pressure.

Let’s consider 4 ways to resist unhelpful pressure.

I. Seek to do God’s will in God’s time (7:1-13)

Read vv. 1-13

The gospel writers do not always tell us when they advance the calendar. However, from the close of chapter 6 to the opening of chapter 7 about 6 months has passed.

  • Jesus has been ministering in Galilee during that time presumably with his twelve disciples.

Passover occurred in John 6. Six months after Passover is the Feast of Booths (Tabernacles). It celebrates the time when the nation was delivered from Egypt and lived in tents during their wilderness wandering. It lasted for a week.

  • Imagine the fourth of July for a whole week where the entire nation descends on DC. It was a camping trip to Jerusalem that served as a crucial time for spiritual renewal.
  • A Jewish historian at the time of Christ tells us that this festival was the most popular. Jerusalem will be packed. It was the most important party of the year.

With that background notice …

Sometimes unhelpful voices offer advice

John 7:3 Therefore His brothers said to Him, “Leave here and go into Judea, so that Your disciples also may see Your works which You are doing. 4 “For no one does anything in secret when he himself seeks to be known publicly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.” 5 For not even His brothers were believing in Him.

We believe that “brothers” does not refer to a spiritual term, but the literal half brothers of Jesus. At this point, they do not believe. Yet, they offer plenty of advice.

  • They explain to Jesus that his marketing plan has gone terribly wrong. Telling people to eat his flesh and drink his blood was a bit much, but the good news is that recovery is possible.
  • A large feast is coming. Go to the feast and do some wonders publicly. That will win everyone because you cannot argue with free bread and fish.
  • They are trying to explain to Jesus what he needs to do to be in everyone’s good graces.

I believe that all of you face similar pressures. Admittedly they are different.

  • When you are 8 people start telling you how to look and behave to be liked.
  • When you are 12 new pressures come to conform in the image of another person or group. Either conform to my image or we will tease you.
  • When you are 15 you must be this, or you have to do that.
  • When you are an adult, pressures come from your workplace or your adult acquaintances.

At times, these voices are no better than Jesus’ brother laying out the proper strategy. That is why your focus (just as Jesus’ was) to do God’s will in God’s time.

Happily obey when the time is right (7:6-13)

There are multiple words for time in the Bible, just like there are in our language.

  • When Jesus says that his hour has not yet come; he is talking about the time of his death/burial/resurrection.
  • When he speaks about time using the word here, he refers to a specific time. In our case, he says that he cannot go to the feast because it is not the right time. It will be the right time in v. 10, but not yet.

We presume that Jesus got the go-ahead prior to v. 10. Jesus was not saying to his brothers that he was NOT going to the feast. He was saying that he will not be boxed into the way he should go (publicly or privately) or the time he is supposed to leave (now or later).

We saw opposition in 5:18, but this time it is more intense. 7:1 says they were seeking to kill him and 7:11 says they were actively seeking him.

  • Jesus did not go when everyone else went. But when given the freedom to move forward that is exactly what he did – without fear.
  • One missionary once said, “the safest place to be is in the center of God’s will.”

John consistently presents Jesus as wanting to do the will of his father. This portion of the story seems a bit odd.

  • Religious leaders are trying to kill him
  • The crowd of people is unsure (v. 12 … is he good, is he a deceiver?)
  • The tension is thick. People want to talk about it, but they fear what the leaders might do.

There are a lot of reasons why Jesus might want to skip this feast.

  • My brothers are manipulating me, the leaders want to kill me, many of the travelers do not know. Let’s just sit this one out.

But anytime you try to reason your way to Jesus’ behavior you are in big trouble. He does what the Father wants him to do when he wants him to do it.

As a reader of John’s gospel that helps me explain all of Jesus’ behavior.

  • It also reminds me of the way I am supposed to live.
  • My job is not to figure out how to make life easiest for me.
  • It is not to avoid conflict or controversy.
  • It is not to allow my personal temptations toward idolatry to take over.

Notice v. 7 “I testify that its (the world’s) deeds are evil.” That is why the world hated Jesus. His mission was not simply to heal the sick and to give them bread to eat. He commanded them to repent and believe because they were deserving of a resurrection to eternal judgment (5:29).

I do not know all the things that God wants you to do for the cause of Christ. But it will often require the courage to face the opposition of people who want you to do something else.

  • Pastor Viars mentioned Dr. Smith last week. He paid a price for his beliefs and he paid a price for the way he did ministry. As a physician who believed more about the Bible then he trusted from secular psychology, he paid a price.
  • He did not care about that price. For Doc, living to do the will of God was far more important.
  • The same is true for you.

I hope that you regularly pray for the Lord’s will in your life and that you are ready to do it.

One more little tidbit about this section: v. 6 says “your time is always opportune.” Jesus is saying that since you are not on board with what God is doing, it honestly does not matter whether you go to the feast or when you go.

  • You are in the same state of under the weight of eternal judgment either way.

For all listening this morning who do not have a saving relationship with Jesus, those words serve as a warning. God’s will is that you repent and believe today. The second way to resist unhelpful pressure is to …

II. Trust Christ’s Words (7:14-36)

Knowing the will of God involves a couple of very clear objective realities.

  • First, there are times when God tells us his will. “This is the will of God …”
  • Second, we know that when we are faithfully following his Word and actively engaged in our relationship with Jesus that he directs our steps. This section focuses on the trustworthy character of Jesus’ Words.

Read vv. 14-36

There is a lot going on here. Jesus arrived at the feast. The initial frenzy of trying to find him subsided. The feast is progressing like the leaders hoped. In the middle of feast, Jesus walks into the temple and begins to teach. Not surprising, people are amazed at how Jesus teaches. There is something different about Jesus’ teaching.

  • Every now and then the gospel writers love throwing in a little comment that makes us readers giggle. Okay… I giggle. Verse 15 says, “having never been educated.”
  • Oh … my … the God of the universe did not attend the proper schooling… really? The creation needs to instruct the creator. That is another sermon for another day.

What Jesus said to the crowd that day is just as relevant today. He provides a series of reasons why we should trust his words.

His words are from the Father (vv. 16-17)

He invites people to test his words. Check them out. Bring them on. Take them to the bank. Use whatever metaphor you like.

  • Jesus only speaks the words and does the works that the father has given him to do. He has no problem with people applying whatever test they want.

The last time I had the opportunity to preach I spoke from the second half of John 5. It is the place where Jesus says he has authority for spiritual and physical resurrection.

  • He willingly applied the witness test. The first witness was … ding ding ding … the father!

His words are for the Father’s glory and not his own (vv. 18)

Jesus explains that his words are not for his own personal profit, glory, or reputation. He says and does only what the father gives him so that the father gets the glory.

I love how this argument is so clear even in the first century. People speak with underlying motives. They have an angle. There is some way that their speech comes back to benefit them. There is no righteousness in those words.

Jesus says, I have no angle. I do not speak for my own glory and therefore my words are righteous.

  1. His words are convicting (vv. 19-20)

John 7:19-20 “Did not Moses give you the Law, and yet none of you carries out the Law? Why do you seek to kill Me?” 20 The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who seeks to kill You?”

The question is rhetorical. Of course, Moses gave them the law. They would say that they cherish the law. They love the law. They abide by the law. Jesus explains that they do not live out the law. As a matter of fact, no one can live out the law!

His evidence is powerful. They are trying to violate commandment #6. John 5:18, 7:1 says they are seeking to kill him. Yet he is innocent of capital crimes. In fact, later in the trials they are hoping to find two people willing to violate commandment #9 – do not bear false witness.

Their response? Jesus is a madman, possessed by a demon. Wowzers. It should come as no surprise then that in 6 more months (the next Passover) these folks will be screaming “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”

  1. His words are authenticated by works (vv. 21-24)

Jesus’ words are trustworthy because they are backed up with action. This argument is a little tricky. Jesus discusses circumcision which was a commandment given to Abraham and the Sabbath which has its roots in creation but was technically not given until the law of Moses.

What happens when the command to circumcise on the 8th day occurs on a Sabbath day where you are not allowed to work? What do you do? Well, they argued that you must circumcise on the 8th day even if it was a Sabbath because the command to circumcise takes precedence.

Jesus uses that argument to explain something very important. He refers to his healing in chapter 5. He heals a man on the Sabbath and tells him to take his mat and go home.

  • Everyone panics. Oh my word, did you see that Jesus told a person to walk on the Sabbath. He cannot be from God.

Jesus says now, seriously. I mean really. Come on!

  • You circumcise every Sabbath day and I heal one whole person and you consider me a lawbreaker?
  • Jesus is not arguing that they broke the law. He is arguing that he did not break the law in the healing because there was a greater priority.

If they had properly understood his words, then they would realize that he fulfills the Sabbath and circumcision. Their lack of understanding leads to a wrong conclusion. Unlike the leaders, Jesus’ words and actions align perfectly.

  1. His words are controversial as predicted (vv. 25-36)

We have been reading the entire book. We know that Jesus’ words divide between those who will accept him and his teaching and those who will not. Even his own half brothers are not immune to this division. That is why it did not matter when they went to the feast.

Now we find the crowd wondering … weren’t they looking for Jesus a few days ago? Why aren’t they arresting him? They question whether the leaders have changed their minds. Maybe they have weighed the evidence and concluded that Jesus is who he says he is.

But by v. 27 they dismiss that thought. They describe a commonly held belief about Messiah. He will be unknown to the public until it is time to reveal who he is. Jesus does not meet this qualification. He has been preaching and teaching for a year or two.

Jesus’ words in vv. 28-29 reveal that while they know something about Jesus, they are wrong about the most fundamental aspect. Jesus was sent from the father.

This gets them riled up! So much so that they ….

John 7:30-31 So they were seeking to seize Him; and no man laid his hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come. 31 But many of the crowd believed in Him; and they were saying, “When the Christ comes, He will not perform more signs than those which this man has, will He?”

What a scene this must have been. Jesus said it … John said it … Jesus’ words divide. They divide families, they divide communities, they divide towns, and they divide nations just as he promised.

They could not seize him because his hour (the time for his death, burial, and resurrection) had not yet come. The situation grows even more intense as a formal group comes to seize him.

While on their way, Jesus explains that it will not be long before it is time for his cross work. Not surprisingly, people struggle to understand.

I want to suggest that this section shows the trustworthiness of Jesus’ words. His words were solid gold then and they remain solid gold today.

Everyone must decide who they are going to listen to. Who will have influence in your life? Will it be Jesus’ words?

  • One take away relates to the way we read and study our Bibles. But beyond personal study, one of the ways you can learn and know Jesus’ words is teaching them to others – even children.
  • This is week 2 of Serve 21. There are a lot of nursery positions open and we hope that if you help create the need for the nursery that you would also participate in helping fulfill the need.
  • There are also teacher and assistant positions open. You will learn your Bible better if you take the step of teaching children.
  • While staffing children’s ministry is important for all our plans at Faith East, I want to emphasize here that serving children in this way may be one of the most beneficial things you ever do in growing your own knowledge and trust in Jesus’ words.

We have seen so far (1) Seek to do God’s will in God’s time and (2) Trust Jesus’ Words. That brings us to point 3.

III. Appreciate the Ministry of the Holy Spirit (vv. 37-44)

Read 7:37-44

When we read the gospels there is always, always, always at least two audiences: those who lived the events when they happened and those who read it later. The argument in this section is a little complicated, but the truth is amazing. Let’s look at a few verses again…

John 7:37-39 Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. 38 “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’ ” 39 But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

During the feast, each day, the people would bring branches and lay them at the alter while the priest would retrieve a golden pitcher full of water. When he poured the water over the alter and the branches the people would recite Isaiah 12:3 “With joy, shall we draw water out of the wells of salvation.”

  • This water ceremony not only remembered God’s provision of water during their wilderness experience, it pointed forward to the day of salvation.
  • Since the OT often links water and the Holy Spirit the fact that Jesus did this on the last day is very significant.

In essence, Jesus says, for a whole week you have been looking forward to the day of your salvation – the day of the Spirit’s arrival.

  • I am that day of salvation and I am the one who provides the Holy Spirit. Verse 39 makes that clear. Here are some implications of this passage for you and me.

Every believer has the privilege of being indwelt by the Spirit

This requires a sermon all to its own, but OT believers watched the Spirit come upon people for various tasks. That was wonderful, but they longed for the day when the Spirit would come and indwell them permanently.

  • Verse 39 reminds us that while it did not happen at the feast, it did at his ascension. That leads to implication #2…

Every believer enjoys the benefits of the indwelling work of the Spirit

Again, this could be a sermon all to its own. The Spirit convicts us of sin, guides us according to the truth of God’s Word, equips us to serve faithfully, prays as we pray, and serves as the promise of our redemption.

When I, as a Christian, read this passage I am reminded of all the benefits that I enjoy as a NT Christian! What a privilege to enjoy these benefits and what a stewardship opportunity to make a difference.

I would like to encourage each one of you to consider the role you will play in serving the Lord and helping FE steward all our opportunities. Here are several possibilities.

  • If you are teaching/leading an ABF, then rebuild it. Pray, prepare, organize, and invite. Teach it with passion. Lead it with excellence. Do not merely wait for “everyone to return.” The sad reality is that some people will not return. Invite every person you see to join you.
  • If you are serving in youth – assume they are struggling. First, because that is often a hard time in life. Second, because the pandemic may have been very discouraging to them. Reach out to them. Seek to make a difference in their life. Be a cheerleader for them.
  • If you are serving in Children’s ministry right now – do it with passion. These children have had a rough year. They need to see people excited about Jesus.
  • If you are involved in leading on one of our worship teams. Lead us with passion. Sing like you believe the words. We want to be reminded that God has this.
  • Be hospitable. The weather has turned and there are some beautiful days. Invite people over and build relationships.
  • If you are not involved, then talk to one of your service pastors.
  • VBS
  • Children’s ministry / nursery

I see this as simply appreciating the Spirit’s work enough that it changes how we live.

The presence of the Spirit is a reminder of who Christ is and the work he completed

Jesus’ words spark a debate. People are all over the place. Some say he is the prophet like Moses. Some say he is the Messiah. Some question whether he is Messiah. Others want to seize him.

Reading John’s gospel today, we know that the Spirit came and it ended the debate.

We have seen so far (1) Seek to do God’s will in God’s time; (2) Trust Jesus’ Words; and (3) Appreciate the Ministry of the Holy Spirit. That brings us to point 4.

IV. Refuse to be intimidated by threats and arguments (vv. 45-52)

Read 7:45-52

The Pharisees dispatched the temple guard to arrest Jesus in v. 32. They return in v. 45 empty handed. We know that Jesus’ hour has not yet come which makes him untouchable. However, it appears that some of the troops were enamored by Jesus’ teaching.

Those who sent them go off.

Those without a biblical worldview cannot explain the world. The problem of evil in the world is much more troubling for an atheist than for a Christian.

  • The problem of origins of the earth are much larger for the humanist than they are for the Christian theist.
  • You see only a biblical worldview is large enough to explain the world.

What happens when you cannot win an argument based on careful, logical, and scientific reason? You have no choice but to attack. You have no choice but to throw logic out the door and settle for arguments that are super lame. Maybe you have faced this kind of reaction before.

Lame Argument #1: No one important believes

John 7:48 “No one of the rulers or Pharisees has believed in Him, has he?

Classic. The argument is not to evaluate Jesus’ words and works carefully and go back through the Old testament looking for what Messiah ought to be. The argument is, “no one important believes.” How lame is that?

That is like saying that your faith is wrong because the Hollywood stars don’t believe it. Lame! The politicians don’t believe it. Lame! The star athletes don’t believe it. Lame!

Besides… uhhh … Did you notice v. 50? That is the same Nicodemus, one of the rulers, a Pharisee who not only defends Jesus here but will help to bury Jesus later.

Arguments that are based on no one important or smart or whatever are nothing short of lame. There is no reason to be intimidated by lame arguments.

Lame Argument #2: No prophet arises from Galilee

Have you noticed that when things are not going your way, your ability to come up with additional foolish and lame arguments knows no end? Well, these guys are still at it.

This second argument is lame because (1) there were OT prophets like Jonah and Nahum who came from Galilee. So, if they want to say that no prophet comes from Galilee then they are just plain wrong. Their desire to exaggerate has rendered their argument, LAME and (2) let’s pretend that it is a reference to Jesus directly. The argument is that Jesus cannot be a prophet because he is from Galilee. This time the argument is lame because it is wrong.

Luke 2:4-6 Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, 5 in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. 6 While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth.

Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the city of David. But that is how it is. When you do not have a worldview large enough for the world, then you must create lame arguments to justify your ignorance.

I said at the outset of this message that John includes it to prove that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God and that by believing you may have life in his name.

  • You might be here this morning and have never placed your faith in Christ.
  • The one who resurrections, regenerates, is living water and the bread of life is ready. You must repent and believe. I am happy to tell you that 2 people did that in our counseling ministry in the last two weeks and another after service at Faith North last Sunday.
  • Jesus offers it to you. You do not have to be deceived by lame arguments, intimidated into silence, or have reasons to question the truth of his words.
  • Join the others who in the last two weeks have put their faith in Jesus!
  • We want to talk to you today about that need.

Christian friend, this message was directed primarily at us.

  • We must seek God’s will in God’s time.
  • We must trust Jesus’ words because they do all he said they would do. He offers the words of life – salvation and sanctification.
  • We must enjoy the ministry of the Spirit in all its aspects today so let’s respond to his guiding.
  • Then, let’s not be intimidated by those who create lame arguments in the hopes of convincing us that we are foolish. Their arguments are lame because their worldview will never be able to explain the world.

When we live like this we are not conformed into the world’s mold. Instead, we courageously face the opposition and the pressure. Since that pressure means so little to us, it frees us up to focus on doing all that God has instructed us to do.

  • It frees us to serve, to give, to love, to worship Christ with our whole heart. It frees us to study his words which are the very words of life – for salvation and for Christian growth.

Authors

Dr. Rob Green

Roles

Pastor of Counseling and Seminary Ministries - Faith Church

MABC Department Chair, Instructor - Faith Bible Seminary

Bio

B.S. - Engineering Physics, Ohio State University
M.Div. - Baptist Bible Seminary
Ph.D. - New Testament, Baptist Bible Seminary

Dr. Rob Green joined the Faith Church staff in August, 2005. Rob’s responsibilities include oversight of the Faith Biblical Counseling Ministry and teaching New Testament at Faith Bible Seminary. He serves on the Council Board of the Biblical Counseling Coalition and as a fellow for the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors. Pastor Green has authored, co-authored, and contributed to 9 books/booklets. Rob and his wife Stephanie have three children.

Read Rob Green's Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Green to Faith Church.