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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
March 26, 2000
Where is Jesus From?
Where is Jesus from? That is still as good a question today as it was when the events in our text today occurred, for people still approach Jesus today as they did then. There are few that actually seek the truth. Most people make their decisions based on either their own presuppositions or the opinions of those claiming to be experts.
It has been long one of my personal contentions that our society has yielded itself too much to the supposed answers by those proclaimed to be "experts." These "experts" have brought about our current public education nightmare in which a small fortune is spent on Junior’s education and yet at the end of 12 years he can barely read or do simple math, but he does feel good about himself. "Experts" have developed modern psychology in which nearly every sin is now a disease caused by someone else. "Experts" have also changed our government and legal system into one that cannot understand even a simple reading of our Constitution.
The basis for all this is that "experts" remove a person from having to check out the facts for themselves into trusting the "expert’s" opinion. If the "expert" bothered checking out all the facts this would not be so bad, but too often the "expert" has not done this and they only give their very biased opinion which may even be in contradiction to the known facts.
The greatest tragedy in this is not in education, psychology, science, government or law, but in religion. It has been "religious experts" who have destroyed the once strong gospel preaching mainline denominations and turned them into the social groups that remain today that cannot even determine if adultery, homosexuality or abortion are sin. The experts did this by replacing Biblical truth with their own opnion.
This is not a new phenomenon. It was also true at the time of Jesus because the people had, for the most part, given over their own responsibility to study God’s Word and think for themselves to the expert opinions of the Pharisees and priests. As we concluded our study in John 7 last week Jesus had already confronted them on this and challenged them to "not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgement" (7:24).
If you will recall, Jesus had come down from Galilee to Jerusalem sometime during the middle of the Feast of Booths. The religious leaders and the people (including His brothers) thought Jesus was interested in increasing His following (7:4), so they had expected Him earlier. However, Jesus moved only as the Father directed Him and He was not interested in attracting more followers. Just six months earlier Jesus had alienated many if not most of His followers with His teaching (John 6 – Bread of life discourse). Jesus came to the feast without fanfare or announcement, but as it were, in secret. He then went to the temple and did what He had been doing throughout the course of His ministry. He began teaching (7:14). During the course of His teaching, some of the "Jews," who were antagonistic toward Jesus, began to mock Him (7:15). Jesus responded to them with a declaration that His teaching was not His own but was from God the Father (16), and that they could not understand this because they were not interested in God’s will (17) but were even seeking to break the Law of Moses in their plot to kill Him (19).
The multitude, which knew nothing of this plot, did not know what to make of this accusation and quickly, and wrongly, concluded that Jesus was demonized to make such a charge against their religious leaders (20). Jesus did not back away, but related the very event of healing the man at Bethesda who had been sick for 38 years as the reason for this plan to kill Him. Jesus also pointed out their inconsistency in being upset about Him doing this healing on a Sabbath when they themselves broke their own Sabbath rules when they circumcised a child on the Sabbath (21-23). It was on the basis of this that Jesus charged the crowd that was around Him in the temple to "not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgement."
This is where we pick up the story this morning in verse 25. The crowd is thrown into some confusion by this exchange of words between Jesus and the Jews who were present, but they do not heed His charge to them to judge righteously instead of by appearances.
25 Therefore some of the people of Jerusalem were saying, "Is this not the man whom they are seeking to kill? 26 "And look, He is speaking publicly, and they are saying nothing to Him. The rulers do not really know that this is the Christ, do they? 27 "However, we know where this man is from; but whenever the Christ may come, no one knows where He is from."
Notice first of all that it is not the "multitude" (vs. 20) which responds this time, but it is "some of the people from Jerusalem." The multitude would have been made up of many pilgrims that would have not known anything about the plan of the religious leaders to kill Jesus, but the people in Jerusalem are aware and plainly tell it. They affirm just what Jesus had said back in verse 19. The religious leaders were seeking to kill Jesus and they knew it. The rest of their answer shows both contempt for these men and that they themselves were really no better at making a righteous judgement.
Their observation and question in verse 26 shows their surprise that these rulers have not acted yet. They had known for a long time that they were looking for Jesus, and now that He was here and openly speaking, they were not even saying anything to Him. If you drop down to verse 32 you will see that they even seemed to be avoiding Jesus since they did not go to have Him arrested themselves. The Jerusalemites then challenge them with their question which is more literally translated, "Perhaps the rulers actually know that this is the Christ?" The Greek form expects a negative answer, so it is sarcasm, not something they thought the rulers would actually consider. They then assert their own conclusion as being superior to, though in keeping with that of the religious leaders.
They knew that Jesus and His family were from Galilee. They held to a popular notion that the Messiah would appear suddenly without indication of His origin. This was an erroneous theological belief based on some vague inferences from the Apocrypha. Since they knew where Jesus was from and thought they would not know where the Messiah was from, Jesus could not be the Messiah. They may have rejected one false aspect of the rulers, but they held onto another of their own making and came to the same false conclusion. They did not judge Jesus with righteous judgement but on how He appeared according to their false belief system.
Nothing has changed has it? This still occurs today. People may finally see through some false system they grew up in, but then the grab onto another false system without ever coming to the truth. A large part of the problem here is that all they really did was change from one false source authority to another false source instead of submitting to the true source of authority, the Bible. If an atheist becomes a New Ager or a Hindu, has there really been any improvement? If a Buddhist becomes a Muslim, has he gained any eternal benefit? If a person exchanges the false Christ of the Mormons for the false Christ of the Jehovah Witness, will it get him into heaven? If a person switches the system by which they were trying to earn their salvation to a different one, as from the Roman Catholic system to the Eastern Orthodox system or vica versa, will they some how avoid the truth of Isaiah 64:6 that "all our righteous deeds are as filthy rags" before a Holy God? Even those in fundamental Churches which claim to be Bible believing must be warned to be Bereans who check out the Scriptures for themselves lest they be misled by false teachers. You cannot judge righteously without a righteous source of truth and authority. The Jewish rulers failed in this and so did the people of Jerusalem. Jesus answers them in verse 28.
John 7:28 Jesus therefore cried out in the temple, teaching and saying, "You both know Me and know where I am from; and I have not come of Myself, but He who sent Me is true, whom you do not know. 29 "I know Him; because I am from Him, and He sent Me."
Jesus knew what they were saying about Him and Jesus raises His voice while teaching in the temple and repeats their words to them. This is irony, not a statement agreeing with their assertion that they knew Him and His origin. Notice that Jesus raises His voice. That doesn’t make sense if He is agreeing with them. Neither does it make sense for Jesus to say they know Him and His origin and then say they do not know Him nor His origin the next day (8:19). In addition, it would make no sense for Jesus to agree with them when He knew their belief about Him and His origin was false. The RSV gives a good translation showing the sense what Jesus said.
"You know Me, and you know where I come from? But I have not come of My own accord; He who sent me is true, and Him you do not know."
Jesus contrasts their mistaken belief with the truth. They think they know who Jesus is and where He is from, but they are wrong and Jesus corrects them. They do not know because they do not know the God who is true that sent Jesus.
John records the reaction of Jesus’ opponents in verse 30. They were seeking therefore to seize Him; and no man laid his hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come. Though they wanted to arrest Jesus and get rid of Him then, no one even laid a hand on Him. The reason is because it was not yet God’s time for Jesus to become the sin sacrifice. That would not come for another six months at the next Passover. John brings this point out again and again in his gospel account. Jesus life was lived according to God’s schedule and His death would also be according to that schedule.
The multitudes were in confusion by Jesus’ teaching and the response of the religious leaders. We have already seen that some, like those from Jerusalem, also rejected Jesus, but for slightly different reasons from the rulers. There were also some who responded positively.
31 But many of the multitude believed in Him; and they were saying, "When the Christ shall come, He will not perform more signs than those which this man has, will He?" The question here is also in a form that expects a negative answer. They believed in Jesus as the Messiah because they could not believe that anyone would do more miraculous signs that Jesus was doing. While it was good that they were believing in Jesus for the moment, the basis of their belief was also appearance and not righteous judgement. They were looking for a political Messiah and that is what they thought Jesus was. When we get to chapter 8 we will see that because of this false foundation, these people who profess faith in Jesus here will reject Jesus the very next day. I will make this point again in the future when we get to that passage, but I want to make it now as well.
Saving faith in Jesus is a faith that continues in Him. It has a foundation that is based on righteous judgement, not the appearances of the moment. These people believed for the moment (aorist tense) but without conviction and substance that would have their faith continue (perfect tense). People today respond the same way, so we must be careful both for ourselves and in our presentation of the gospel. We must push and make it clear that belief in Jesus needs to be based on truth and not in getting what you want for the moment. Jesus warned that belief in Him will lead to being persecuted by the world (John 16:33, etc.), only a true faith stand firm in suffering.
32 The Pharisees heard the multitude muttering these things about Him; and the chief priests and the Pharisees sent officers to seize Him. The Pharisees are not aware that most of those making these statement of faith in Jesus would reject Him the next day. They only heard what was being said then and they did not like it. They entered into an agreement with the chief priests, most of whom were Sadducees. The Pharisees and Sadducees were antagonistic to each other, but neither group liked Jesus, so they cooperated in the effort to eliminate Him. They sent officers, the Temple police, to arrest Him. Notice again that the people were "muttering" or "grumbling." They were speaking in low tones because they were afraid to draw the attention of the Pharisees to themselves and risk being banished from the temple and synagogues by them.
This does not threaten Jesus, for as verse 30 already pointed out, "His time was not yet come," and Jesus knew that. He responds to the crowd and, I would infer from verse 32 & 46, the officers that had been sent to arrest Him in verse 33. Jesus therefore said, "For a little while longer I am with you, then I go to Him who sent Me. 34 "You shall seek Me, and shall not find Me; and where I am, you cannot come." This is another Mishal, a paradoxical saying that makes a veiled, but pointed remark. Jesus is referring to His coming death, resurrection and ascension to the Father. Notice that Jesus is specifically speaking to "the Jews" here. They could not follow Him to God the Father because they were rejecting Him and would not be allowed entrance into heaven because of their sin.
They do not understand Jesus’ statement and take it in a literal sense instead of its intended figurative meaning. 35 The Jews therefore said to one another, "Where does this man intend to go that we shall not find Him? He is not intending to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks, is He? 36 "What is this statement that He said, ‘You will seek Me, and will not find Me; and where I am, you cannot come’?"
Jesus leaves them in their confused state. If they had wanted to know the answer they could have asked Him, but true to their arrogance, they debated it among themselves instead. People still do this today too. People have not changed any in 2,000 years. We have different technology, but the heart of man is still as sinful, if not more sinful, than ever. People debate among themselves about who Jesus is instead of going with a humble attitude to the Scriptures to see what God has already revealed.
Verse 37 jumps forward in time. "Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out , saying . . .". We don’t know at what point in the midst of the feast Jesus came, so this could be a couple of days later or the very next day. Either way, it shows that Jesus was not deterred by the conflict that was rising around Him. He continued to teach.
What Jesus said next was in direct reference to a tradition that had developed during the Feast of Tabernacles. This feast celebrated both God’s past and present provision. The tabernacles, or booths, constructed and lived in during the week commemorated God’s care during the wilderness wanderings. This feast was also called the Feast of Ingathering (Ex. 23:16; 34:22). It was a very joyful time in the Jewish calendar for it was the end of the harvest and as such celebrated God’s current care for them in the harvest. As part of the daily ritual of this feast there was a special water libation (offering) ceremony. This feast occurred at the end of the dry season. If they did not receive the proper rains that would start in the next month, there would be a drought and no harvest the following year, so this ceremony was a prayer of trust for the Lord to continue to provide.
Without going into all the details, a priest with a procession of musicians and worshipers would go to the pool of Silom just south of the Temple. He would fill up a pill up a golden pitcher with water and then carry it back to the Temple through the Water Gate (which received its name from this ceremony). As he entered the temple, three blasts of the silver trumpets sounded and the priest with one voice repeated the words of Isaiah 12:3 – "therefore, with joy shall you draw water out of the wells of salvation." The priest would then ascend the Altar where both the water and a pitcher of wine would be poured out as an offering to the Lord. After this, three more blasts of the trumpet signaled the choir of Levities to sing the Hallel, (Psalm 113-118), which concludes with a Messianic Psalm.
It is with this background in mind that Jesus stood up in the temple and cried out, "If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scriptures said, ‘From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.’" The context of Jesus saying this made it very clear the spiritual nature of what He was talking about to those who heard Him. The quotation from Isaiah and the singing of the Hallel all pointed to the spiritual nature pictured in the libation offering.
There is actually another type here that well could have been in the minds of those present because of the celebration of God’s provision during the wilderness wanderings and that was God’s provision of water at Horeb (Ex. 17:6). The people were extremely thirsty and fearful of dying, and God provided the life saving water. Those who thirst after God can find the eternal life giving water of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. There would even be the added blessing of having this spiritual water flowing out of you to others. This is similar terminology to what Jesus told the Samaritan woman.
John makes sure his readers understand Jesus meaning by clarifying in verse 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." Those who have faith in Jesus Christ also have the Holy Spirit who will use them bring the message of salvation to others.
Jesus’ proclamation caused continued division among the people as they debated back and forth about who Jesus could be.
40 [Some] of the multitude therefore, when they heard these words, were saying, "This certainly is the Prophet." 41 Others were saying, "This is the Christ." Still others were saying, "Surely the Christ is not going to come from Galilee, is He?"42 "Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David, and from Bethlehem, the village where David was?" 43 So there arose a division in the multitude because of Him. 44 And some of them wanted to seize Him, but no one laid hands on Him.
Some thought Jesus to be the promised prophet of Deut. 18 who would be like Moses. Others understood that Jesus was the promised Messiah. Still others continued to argue that Jesus could not be the Messiah because He was from Galilee. They correctly understood that the Messiah was to come from Bethlehem, the city of David, but they had never bothered checking out where Jesus was actually born. They simply assumed that since He was raised in Nazareth and ministered in Galilee that He must be a Galilean. They judged by appearance and not with righteous judgement. Then there were those who were the most hostile who wanted to arrest Jesus, but they would not do it themselves.
Is this not still the way it is today? There are those who believe Jesus is a good man, a moral teacher, or great leader, but they do not recognize His own claim to be the Messiah, the Son of God. They may not be hostile to Jesus, but neither do they follow Him nor receive His gift of eternal life. They pick and choose what they want to believe based on their own presuppositions. They judge by appearance and not righteously. They are not true truth seekers.
There are those that correctly recognize Jesus and believe His claims. May they increase in number and be bold in proclaiming Him even though they will be opposed by skeptics who have never bothered to search out all the facts.
There are various kinds of skeptics, but they all have the same basic problem. They think themselves to have superior knowledge when in fact they have not even checked out all the facts. The group of Jerusalemites I pointed out earlier (25) rejected Jesus because they didn’t think they could know where the Messiah came from. They had a wrong basic understanding of prophecy. This later group correctly understood the Messiah had to be from Bethlehem, but rejected Jesus because of their false assumption that He was from Galilee.
It is healthy to be skeptical and question lest you be lead astray into falsehood. That is a reason we welcome any question here, but if your skepticism does not come with humility and a true seeking after the truth, it will lead you into prideful arrogance which God resists. It will end up leading you to eternal damnation.
Then there are those who are openly hostile to Jesus. In many respects they are in the worse position because it is hard to come to the truth when you are trying so hard to destroy it. Yet, the Christian response to such people is to love them for that was the example of Jesus. He forgave those who put Him on the cross (Luke 23:34). He loved us when we were His enemies (Rom. 5:8), and He commanded us to love our enemies (Mt. 5:44).
One of the difficulties for those that are hostile to Jesus is that their hatred blinds them to even basic truths and they begin to believe their own lies. This comes out in verses 45-53.
45 The officers therefore came to the chief priests and Pharisees, and they said to them, "Why did you not bring Him?" 46 The officers answered, "Never did a man speak the way this man speaks." 47 The Pharisees therefore answered them, "You have not also been led astray, have you? 48 "No one of the rulers or Pharisees has believed in Him, has he? 49 "But this multitude which does not know the Law is accursed." 50 Nicodemus said to them (he who came to Him before, being one of them), 51 "Our Law does not judge a man, unless it first hears from him and knows what he is doing, does it?" 52 They answered and said to him, "You are not also from Galilee, are you? Search, and see that no prophet arises out of Galilee." 53 And everyone went to his home. 8:1 But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
The Pharisees were upset because the officers had not arrested Jesus. They should have gone out
themselves, but from other passages we know they feared the people (Lk 20:19). It is remarkable that these officers are very bold and direct with their reason for not arresting Jesus. They do not blame anyone else or cite any kind of fear. They are simply very impressed with Jesus because "never did a man speak the way this man speaks." It was not Jesus style they were referring to, but His message. They simply refused to obey the orders and arrest Him.
The outraged Pharisees verbally attack and seek to belittle the officers by claiming them to be as ignorant as the multitudes. They professed themselves to be superior and anyone that disagreed with them as ignorant fools. However, their claim that none of the rulers or Pharisees had believed on Jesus was incorrect, for there was one in their very midst, Nicodemus, who then spoke up.
Some belittle Nicodemus for only asking a question and not be more direct and vocal, but remember that he was facing a large and powerful group that controlled religious life in Jerusalem. It took great courage for Nicodemus to speak up as he did for he directly challenged their practice of the law they claimed to know so well.
What they were doing was against the Mosaic law (Ex. 23:1; Deut. 17:6; 19:15), but they do not answer his question. Instead, they try to belittle Nicodemus. That is the common method of dealing with an opponent who has caught them in their hypocrisy. Ignore the question or statement and belittle the opponent while making further false claims. There has been a huge increase in this defense method in American politics in recent years.
They insinuate that only a Galilean would give Jesus any defense and they despised Galileans. They did not know where Jesus was from and falsely also assumed that Jesus was a Galilean. But Nicodemus should have taken up their challenge about a prophet coming out of Galilee. Searching the scriptures reveals the following.
Jonah was from Gath-Hepher which was located a few miles north of Nazareth (2 Kings. 14:25, cf. Jonah 1:1). Nahum may have been from Capernaum (which may mean, "village of Nahum"). In addition, Isaiah 9:1,2 speaks of a "great light" coming to the lands of Zebulun, Naphtali and Galilee of the Gentiles. This is actually a prophecy of Jesus going there (Mt. 4:15).
The Pharisees were wrong, but being wrong seldom is a concern to those who are arrogant. What they want and their opinions are all that really matter to them. Truth is of little concern.
Where is Jesus from? Depends on who you ask. The supposed "experts" may tell you one thing, but that doesn’t mean they have the truth. The majority of the population may tell you something else, but that does not mean they have the truth. If you want the truth, you will have to go beyond the experts and popular opinion.
Jesus’ own claim is to be God in human flesh who came to save us from our sins through His atoning sacrifice and resurrection.
If that is true, and you believe it, then everything in your life will be lived in a radically different manner from the world.
If it is true, and you do not believe it, then your life will be lived pretty much the same as everyone in the world.
If it is false, then you are wasting your time here, and as Paul said in 1 Cor. 15:19, "we are of all men most to be pitied."
What do you believe? Why do you believe it? Do you judge Jesus based on appearances, or with righteous judgment? The answer to those questions will show up in how you live your life.
Sermon Study Sheets
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Count how many times the word "judge" is said. 2) Discuss with your parents how to properly judge Jesus’ claims.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. What are some of the consequences of letting "experts" make your decisions for you? What is the Feast of Booths and why was it important? Why did Jesus delay in going to the feast with his brothers? What opposition did Jesus face when He did arrive? Why did the religious rulers want to kill Jesus? Why did the people from Jerusalem acknowledge this plot (25) while the multitudes denied it (20)? How did the Jerusalemites respond to Jesus? What did they think of the rulers? Why did they come to a wrong conclusion? How did Jesus respond to them? Why didn’t they know Jesus? Why didn’t they arrest Jesus at that time? What was the nature of the multitudes "belief" in verse 31? What was it based on? How did the Pharisees respond? What is the meaning of Jesus’ mishal in verses 33,34? What is the significance of Jesus’ statement in verse 37, 38? How would the activities during the feast help explain its meaning? Describe those activities and their meaning. What were the various responses of the people at the feast? Why did so many reject Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah? Why didn’t the officers arrest Jesus? How did the Pharisees treat the officers? How did they respond to Nicodemus’ question? Where they correct in their statements? Where do you think Jesus is from? Why?
Sermon Notes – 3/26/2000 a.m.
Where is Jesus From? – John 7:25-53
The Setting (1-24)
Judging Jesus (25-36)
Response of the Jerusalemites (25-27)
Jesus’ Rebuke (28,29)
God’s Timing (30)
The Multitudes Belief (31)
The Pharisees Opposition (32)
Jesus’ Mishal & Resulting Confusion (33-36)
The Great Day of the Feast (37-53)
Jesus’ Analogy (37-39)
Mixed Reactions (40-44)
The Pharisees Anger (45-53)
Anger at the Officers (45-49)
Anger at Nicodemus (50-52)
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