Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg
with Tom Fuller
Removing the Filters
You?ve heard the ad ?People judge you by the words you use. To make a powerful impression you need a powerful vocabulary. You need Verbal Advantage.? Though this is true I think we also judge people by how they say words and where they come from. We hear an accent in someone and we think ?Deep South? or ?Canada? or ?Middle East? and each of these brings a set of preconceptions with it. This happened to Jesus as well.
John 7 is about battling with preconceptions and the opinions of others and whether you really listen to what Jesus says and let his words go deeply into your soul. Jesus in this chapter wrestles with his brothers prejudice, the crowd?s ever changing ideas, and the Pharisee?s increasing hatred?all the while patiently telling people to leave all that garbage behind and listen to the promise of eternal life and eternal satisfaction?to listen to his words because they will no only leave a powerful impression they are the keys to finding eternal life.
1 ? 2
From first reading this you might think that Jesus was afraid. That is not the case at all. Jesus knew that he would die on a cross and knew when that was to happen. Nothing anyone could do, whether human or demon could change that. I think the main reason Jesus avoided Nazareth is that the Jewish leaders were making it very difficult for him to work. Jesus was not there to provoke a fight, he was there to share God?s truth and die when it was time, so he focuses on the Galilee region.
The Feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:33-43) celebrated God?s provision of water, and His presence among them (the pillar of fire). This is a perfect opportunity for Jesus to proclaim His presence among them and his gift to them (of the Holy Spirit, which he describes in verse 38 as ?living water?).
3 ? 5
These were his blood half brothers through Mary. They did not believe that he was the Messiah until after the resurrection. It sure sounds like the taunting of siblings to me. ?If you are so great smarty pants than just go up and show yourself openly. You?re just chicken!? Look what Jesus says:
6 ? 9
Jesus tells his brothers that they were free to do as they wish, but he was on a mission from the Father and could only do what he was commanded to do by Him. They belonged to the world, they were infected with the terminal disease of sin, so the world system run by sin would not reject them. But when you start talking about the endemic evil in the human soul of course that is going to spark a bad reaction??hate? Jesus calls it.
10 ? 13
Jesus brothers wanted him to proclaim himself openly as the Messiah?not because they believed but perhaps to put him in his place. They didn?t know then that Jesus would do just that in chapter 12. But he does go to the feast. Jesus ministry is not in secret but it is His ministry, not ours to dictate.
By this time there was a great deal of interest in Jesus. He was in all the tabloids and the gossip (murmering) ran rampant about who this guy could be. I think they too wanted him to declare himself openly, perhaps have a show down with the Pharisees. Jesus won?t be manipulated by them either. Public opinion would also not determine who Jesus was. If Jesus had come today you?d have polls on the news: ?today?s Gallop poll shows that 35% of Jews at the Feast think Jesus is a good man while 37% feel his influence is negative. Jesus had no comment on the poll.? By the way, the Jews were very frightened of the consequences of speaking about Jesus. They could be excommunicated from the synagogue, a very serious punishment.
14 ? 18
Finally Jesus puts all the murmuring to rest. He goes to a very public part of the Temple and starts teaching. The people marvel because Jesus doesn?t have a PhD (he didn?t go to Rabbi school).
Look what he says here: ?if anyone?s will is to do God?s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.? Jesus comes back to this over and over?this idea that if the condition of your heart is a desire to know God then God will speak to you and witness to you that Jesus is Lord. In chapter 8 he?ll say ?if you abide in my word you will know the truth and the truth shall set you free.? You don?t have to understand every little bit about Jesus, but just have a soft heart towards him and let his words ?abide? in you.
So watch this next section. Jesus in effect is saying: ?How can you speak authoritatively about what is right if you don?t do the right you know??
19 ? 24
The incident Jesus refers to was in chapter 5 where he healed the paralyzed man on the Sabbath. The Pharisees were more interested in keeping their interpretation of the Sabbath than they were in keeping the Law of Moses, which says ?you shall not murder.?
Jesus points out that the Jews would overrule one tradition (the Sabbath rules) if it meant not fulfilling a requirement of the Law (circumcision on the 8th day) if it fell on the Sabbath. Yet because they were so slavish about their rules, they didn?t see that healing on the Sabbath was more important than not working on the Sabbath. It?s always important for us to look at the Scriptures, and see God?s heart and his intent, rather than just force an opinion of something based on outward appearances.
An example from today might be that a Christian frequenting bars might be seen as a drunkard and ?not a good Christian.? In fact, it may be that God has a special call on that person to reach out to those who are caught in the vise grip of alcohol with the gospel. Now I?m not advocating us all going over to Joe?s Bar and Grill after church to put down a few cold ones for the Lord. I?m just saying that there is often more to what God is really doing than we can see without the eyes of faith, the guidance of the Bible and the leading of God?s Holy Spirit.
How can you claim something is of death (?you have a demon?) when it brings life (?I made a whole man?s body well?). Saying ?you have a demon? is like saying ?you?re out of your mind!?
25 ? 31
The crowd was dealing with several issues: should we follow someone who doesn?t have consensus of popular opinion (12)? Should we believe someone without credentials we recognize (15)? Should we follow someone that we are familiar with and doesn?t fit our preconceptions (27)?
If you truly seek to know and understand God you will know and understand who Jesus is and what he is doing. If you dismiss Jesus as just a good person you will miss who he really is and what he has done for you and can give to you. This idea that no one would know where the Messiah would come from, that he would just appear, was urban legend and may have come from writings that didn?t make it into the Bible.
In the end, after all their questioning the people seem to conclude that he really fits the mold of the Messiah. This is a very surface belief, however, not real trust. But it has an effect on the Pharisees who see power slipping from their hands.
32 ? 52
If we think our ideas and our logic are correct, we miss the true substance of the Messiah, from heaven, going to heaven (36).
Scripture for water flowing from the Spirit (Isaiah 12:3 ? spring up from the wells of salvation)
As Jesus spoke the people realized the truth of his words went beyond anything they had heard from the own leaders. They started in earnest talking about whether he was the Prophet (Duet 18) or the Christ (Messiah). When you really listen to Jesus he makes perfect sense.
So then the people and later the Pharisees start arguing over if Jesus is the Messiah he comes from the wrong state. He grew up in Galilee but was born, as we know, in Bethlehem. Micah 5:2 is where it says the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem.
But I want to point out two things: 1 is the reaction of the guards sent to arrest him. They come back without him and when asked why they say (46) ?no one ever spoke like this man?. I love this. Even the hardened thugs of the Pharisees are softened by Jesus? words. No heart is too hard that the gospel cannot penetrate.
The other is Nicodemus. The leaders are bent on murdering Jesus but Nicodemus has talked to Jesus and he must have been wrestling with what Jesus told him in chapter 3.
The bottom line: ?give him a hearing and learn what does? (Deut 1:16, 19:15).
Will you give Jesus a fair hearing? Will you let his words penetrate your heart? Or will you through your own preconceptions rule him out like the Pharisees?
?Your time is always here?
Jesus said this to his brothers. And he still says it today to all of us.2 Corinthians 6:2-3 Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
Don?t let the crowd?s ideas sway your opinions
Your decision to follow Jesus may be swayed by all the negative and positive things said about him by others. You may wonder if he is truly the only way then why are there so many other religions, you may have heard so much about him that he seems almost too familiar?but when you listen to his words they don?t follow the preconceptions you?ve always had.
Let his words seep deeply into your soul. Don?t decide what you think about him based on what the polls say, but on what your heart says to you. A plethora of choices doesn?t make them all right or all wrong. Only Jesus deals effectively with sin, evil, salvation and eternity. There is a little good in all those faiths, but none of them but Jesus will do you any long term good.
Are you trying to apply your own logic to understand Jesus (like the crowds did with his origins and his destination)? Jesus doesn?t always make sense to us but he always makes sense if we take the time to listen.
Are you thirsty?
Only Jesus has thirst quenching power for the soul. And only Jesus can supply that life giving water that can flow through us to others.