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Golden Nursing Center in Mannington, NJ –Evening Service on 2/20/2014
(edited May 2020)
Have you ever been misunderstood or misunderstood someone else? Have you ever made an enemy just because of confusion or miscommunication? I know I have. Well, if you have, don’t feel too bad. Jesus Christ, Our Lord, was often misunderstood. And not just in Bible Times. Because of our weaknesses, ignorance, and spiritual battles, He is still often misunderstood today.
Verses 1-2: “After these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him. Now the Jew's feast of tabernacles was at hand.”
The Jewish leaders despised Jesus as some sort of Antichrist figure! That was an absurd and dangerous MISUNDERSTANDING. They were trying to use it as an excuse for murder, and that is exactly what eventually happened. Also, Jesus had some half-brothers. (He was the Son of God, through Mary, and they were the sons of Mary and Joseph.) Well, at this point, His own brothers were actually deriding Him as a phony:
Verses 3-9: “ His brethren therefore said unto him, Depart hence, and go into Judaea, that thy disciples also may see the works that thou doest. For there is no man that doeth any thing in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly. If thou do these things, shew thyself to the world. For neither did his brethren believe in him. Then Jesus said unto them, My time is not yet come: but your time is alway ready. The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil. Go ye up unto this feast: I go not up yet unto this feast: for my time is not yet full come. When he had said these words unto them, he abode still in Galilee.”
People, in general, were confused about Christ (doesn’t that sound familiar today?). They weren’t sure what to make of Him:
Verses 10-12: “But when his brethren were gone up, then went he also up unto the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret. Then the Jews sought him at the feast, and said, Where is he? And there was much murmuring among the people concerning him: for some said, He is a good man: others said, Nay; but he deceiveth the people.”
Satan was at work here, too. There is a dark, sometimes subtle, pressure on us all to remain in a fog and confused about Jesus. And confusion about Christ can lead to ignoring Him or a half-hearted interest that doesn’t seem to ever lead to true repentance, salvation, and spiritual growth. This is very true in our day, even in churches. I’m not proud to say this, but in my own personal Bible study I often find myself becoming distracted and mentally absent. And it seems like the harder I try to concentrate, the more distracted I become. That has led to a lot of confusion on my part! To one degree or another, we are all in a battle when we try to discover and embrace the Truth of God’s Word. And no subject is more under attack than the true nature and work of Jesus Christ. That battle can be very oppressive. Look at the effect it was having back then:
Verse 13: “Howbeit no man spake openly of him for fear of the Jews.”
But even with all the confusion and discouragements, Jesus STILL manages to get to the Temple in Jerusalem and preach to the Jews and their leaders. And, you know, if you seek Him today with your whole heart and being, somehow, someway, He will break through ALL the barriers, whatever that means in your life, and He will reach, and teach, and comfort you. But it’s often not as easy as we often make it sound.
Verses 14-15: “Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught. And the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?”
Maybe now they will begin to understand Him. Listen as Christ explains how to get unconfused about Him:
Verses 16-17: “Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.”
This is an important principle. Jesus is not to be understood as other people can be. To know Him, to really know Him, you must be seeking to do the Father’s will. And the FIRST item on the Father’s list of “Do’s” is to believe His Son!
Many Hollywood movies have attempted to accurately portray Christ with little results, I think. I know we can learn by watching movies, but the ones I’ve seen about Christ just seem to confuse me. I think it’s because God expects more of me than just passively sitting back and staring at a movie screen! To really understand Christ, I have to willing to actually live out the Gospel in my own life and share it in the lives of those around me.
Next, Jesus addresses the confusion of his half-brothers:
Verse 18: “He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him.”
I wonder if this stung a bit as it emphasized that they shared only a mother, and it was the Heavenly Father (not Joseph) Who had sent Jesus into their lives. We know that at least two of them did keep listening and eventually “got it” about Jesus. Those are James and Jude who, after the death and resurrection of Christ, began believing in their Half-Brother and even held important positions in the early church at Jerusalem. We know them best today as the authors of the Book of James and Book of Jude in the New Testament.
Christ continues with comments directed at the Jewish leaders:
Verses 19-24: “Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me? The people answered and said, Thou hast a devil: who goeth about to kill thee? Jesus answered and said unto them, I have done one work, and ye all marvel. Moses therefore gave unto you circumcision; (not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers;) and ye on the sabbath day circumcise a man. If a man on the sabbath day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are ye angry at me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day? Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.”
This all refers back to an incident at a poolside in Bethesda, recorded at the beginning of chapter 5 of the Gospel of John. Jesus had healed a physically debilitated man on the Sabbath Day. Step by step, painfully for them I’m sure, Christ is explaining in detail the inferiority of the Old Covenant Law and the hypocrisy of the worship system the they had concocted around it.
And the leaders seem to only harden their stance against Jesus. But the light of understanding does begin to dawn on some the “everyday” people who were listening:
Verses 25-26: “Then said some of them of Jerusalem, Is not this he, whom they seek to kill? But, lo, he speaketh boldly, and they say nothing unto him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is the very Christ? Howbeit we know this man whence he is: but when Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence he is.”
But, as often happens today, that light is immediately suppressed:
Verse 27: “ Howbeit we know this man whence he is: but when Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence he is.”
There is a tendency to underappreciate the Lord just because He is so accessible and open to us. This can be a horrible misunderstanding, also. The time to comprehend and receive Christ is limited for all of us. But the friendlier He gets, the more we sometimes pull back, looking instead for lightning bolts or some spectacle. This must frustrate the Lord to no end, listen to what He says to them:
Verses 28-36: “ Then cried Jesus in the temple as he taught, saying, Ye both know me, and ye know whence I am: and I am not come of myself, but he that sent me is true, whom ye know not. But I know him: for I am from him, and he hath sent me. Then they sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come. And many of the people believed on him, and said, When Christ cometh, will he do more miracles than these which this man hath done? The Pharisees heard that the people murmured such things concerning him; and the Pharisees and the chief priests sent officers to take him. Then said Jesus unto them, Yet a little while am I with you, and then I go unto him that sent me. Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come. Then said the Jews among themselves, Whither will he go, that we shall not find him? will he go unto the dispersed among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles? What manner of saying is this that he said, Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come?”
Everyone needs to love and understand Christ. That’s right, everyone! I didn’t always believe that I needed the Lord. Then I began see that my life was not going to be something I could handle on my own. You could say, I began to thirst for something more. Eventually I found out what that something was. Listen to this:
Verses 37-39: “ In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)”
As it is today, there were many opinions about Jesus floating around. Some accepted what He said, tried understand, some rejected Him outright, and then there were many who were kind of lost in the middle.
Verses 40-49: “ Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, Of a truth this is the Prophet. Others said, This is the Christ. But some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee? Hath not the scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was? So there was a division among the people because of him. And some of them would have taken him; but no man laid hands on him. Then came the officers to the chief priests and Pharisees; and they said unto them, Why have ye not brought him? The officers answered, Never man spake like this man. Then answered them the Pharisees, Are ye also deceived?Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him? But this people who knoweth not the law are cursed.”
The Jewish leaders were not in the middle about Christ, they were just lost. They were never going to understand their Messiah, because they were suffering with an issue that I still have problems with sometimes. They tried to understand God’s Word, but not obey it. I need to remember daily what Jesus told them back there in verse 17. Remember?
“If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.”
Actually, there was one man among those leaders who was starting to understand Who Jesus really was:
Verses 50-53: “Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them,) Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth? They answered and said unto him, Art thou also of Galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet. And every man went unto his own house.”
Nicodemus shows us that it was possible to get to know Christ, back then, as it is now. And every believer matters, even if it’s just one person in the group. The faith of one person proves 100 unbelievers to be living in confusion. My prayer and challenge for you and for me tonight is that we can be that person were God has placed us. Embracing Jesus and reaching out to those we know who are yet to understand Who He is. Let’s pray.