WARNINGS GIVEN, BUT UNHEEDED – John 8:21-30

Bible sermons, John 8:21-30, Uncategorized, warnings

INTRODUCTION:

In 1969, in Pass Christian, Mississippi, a group of people was preparing to have a “hurricane party” in the face of a storm named Camille.  The wind was howling outside the posh Richelieu Apartments when Police Chief Jerry Peralta pulled up sometime after dark.  Facing the beach, less than 250 feet from the surf, the apartments were directly in the line of danger.  A man with a drink in his hand came out to the second-floor balcony and waved.  Peralta yelled, “You all need to clear out of here as quickly as you can.  The storm’s getting worse.”  But as others joined the man on the balcony, they just laughed at Peralta’s order to leave.  “This is my land,” one of them yelled back.  “If you want me off, you’ll have to arrest me.”

Peralta didn’t arrest anyone, but he wasn’t able to persuade them to leave either.  He wrote down the names of the next of kin of the twenty or so people who gathered to party through the storm.  They laughed as he took their names.  They had been warned, but they had no intention of leaving.

It was 10:15 p.m. when the front wall of the storm came ashore.  Scientists clocked Camille’s wind-speed at more than 205 miles-per-hour, the strongest on record.  Raindrops hit with the force of bullets, and waves off the Gulf Coast crested between twenty-two and twenty-eight feet high.

News reports later showed that the worst damage came at the little settlement of motels, go-go bars, and gambling houses known at Pass Christian, Mississippi, where some twenty people were killed at a hurricane party in the Richelieu Apartments.  Nothing was left of the three-story structure but the foundation; the only survivor was a five-year-old boy found clinging to a mattress the following day.  What a terrible price to pay for their failure to heed those warnings!

I.  SETTING AND FIRST WARNING (verse 21)

The passage of Scripture that we are now studying is John 8:21-30.  Jesus has been defending Himself in the previous Scriptures by answering their questions, giving instruction, and describing His relationship with the Father.  Now He is going to take control of the conversation and issue some warnings to His listeners.  Verse 21 says, “He [Jesus] said to them, ‘I go away, and you shall seek Me, and shall die in your sin; where I am going, you cannot come’,”  Didn’t He just say those words in John 7:33?  Yes, but this time He inserts a warning:  “you shall die in your sin.”  In chapter 7, His listeners were composed mainly of the pilgrim Jews who had traveled a great distance to attend the feast.  They were open to His teaching and many of them were placing their faith in Him (John 7:31).  Here in chapter 8, Jesus is back in the temple on the following day and He is interacting with the Pharisees and the Jerusalem Jews.  They have been opposing Him since the beginning of His ministry, and now it’s time for them to face the music.  There are going to be dire consequences to their actions if they don’t heed His warnings.  When Jesus uses the words “die in your sin”, He is warning that they will die unpardoned.  Only the Messiah can pardon their sins and only He is the Messiah (Acts 4:12).  I don’t believe that Jesus was saying those words and the words that follow, in anger.  He was saying them with sadness and urgency in His voice, pleading with them to heed His warnings.  Before His death, Jesus expressed in words His attitude toward the Jews in Jerusalem.  In Matthew 23:37, He said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her!  How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.”

The word “sin”, here in verse 21, is in the singular and has the same meaning that it does in John 16:8-9, where Jesus says, “And He (speaking of the Holy Spirit) when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment; concerning sin because they do not believe in Me . . . “.  Their sin is that of unbelief.  It is the greatest sin:  the sin of rejecting Christ.

II.  A SARCASTIC RESPONSE (verse 22)

The response of these Jews was not what Jesus wanted to hear.  Instead of heeding His warning of impending danger, we find these words in verse 22:  “Therefore the Jews were saying, ‘Surely He will not kill Himself, will He, since He says, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?”  They say those words sarcastically, and loud enough for Jesus to hear them.  I imagine they were probably laughing as they said them.  In their minds, they are adding up the things they have already said and thought about Jesus and are drawing their own conclusion.  “He’s a deceiver, He’s broken the law of Moses, and He’s crazy, so He must be suicidal also.  That explains why we can’t come where He is going.   He’s going to hell after He commits suicide, and we certainly aren’t going there!”  I must say, they are really stretching their imaginations to come up with that reply!  Ironically, they are the ones in danger of committing suicide spiritually and eternally by rejecting Him.

III.  EXPLANATION AND SECOND WARNING (verses 23-24)

I’m amazed at the patience and mercy of Jesus.  Instead of reacting to their insinuation about suicide, He ignores or overlooks it, gives a more detailed explanation of His first warning and then warns them again.  In verse 23, Jesus says, “You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world.”  There is a major difference between them and Himself:  their point of origin.  He’s from heaven and there is no one else like Him.  No one else can make that statement truthfully.  They, on the other hand, originated on earth.  They are not only in the world but they are also “of” the world.  Their attitude and their words and actions demonstrate their worldliness and their sinful resistance to the truth.

In verse 24, the Lord Jesus gives them a second warning:  “I said therefore to you, that you shall die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you shall die in your sins.”  He warned them of the consequences of their actions and gave them the only way out of their predicament.  In HIs warning, Jesus is once again claiming to be God.  The Greek text does not have the word “He”Jesus is speaking to them in Aramaic and is saying, “unless you believe that I am, you shall die in your sins.”  He is using God’s covenant name which He gave to Moses in Exodus 3:14.  It was the name the Jews would not pronounce.  When the Scribes copied the Old Testament Scriptures, they would use a new pen to write that name, and then set that pen aside.  Those listening to Jesus knew who He was claiming to be, as well as His authority to give those warnings.  Jesus has warned them again that an eternal disaster awaits them if they do not heed His warnings.  How are they going to respond to His words?

IV.  ANOTHER SARCASTIC RESPONSE (verse 25a)

Verse 25 begins with these words: “And so they were saying to Him, ‘Who are You?’ Those three words may sound innocent and inquisitive, but they are not.  Let me translate those words into a familiar expression:  “Who do you think you are to tell us what to do?”  Have you heard that expression or used that expression before?  It’s certainly not the kind of response you would like to receive after doing somebody a favor!  I think they are acting like bullies, making fun of Jesus and trying to badger Him to the point where He might lose His temper and explode in anger at them.  Do you have that impression also?

Sin’s effects in a person’s life are much like the answer to the following question:  “How does a worm get inside an apple?”  Perhaps you think the worm burrows in from outside.  Actually, the answer is “no”.  Scientists have discovered that the worm comes from inside.  But how does it get inside?  Simple!  An insect lays an egg in the apple blossom.  Sometime later, the worm hatches in the heart of the apple, then eats its way out.  Sin, like the worm, begins in the heart and works its way out through our thoughts, words, and actions.  That principle certainly holds true for these Jews as they interact with Jesus and make jokes about His warnings and His identity.  To them, Jesus was just a poor, uneducated carpenter from Galilee, whose warnings they considered to be ridiculous and unfounded.

V.  A REBUKE (verses 25b-26)

Jesus responds to their question by asking them a question as a form of rebuke.  He says, “What have I been saying to you from the beginning?”.  Jesus has been making those statements since the beginning of HIs ministry.  If we look at John 3:31-34, we find that John the Baptist said similar words about Jesus.  So the issue, here in verses 25 to 26, isn’t lack of information, nor the clarity of that information.  The problem on their parts is a stubborn unwillingness to respond in spite of the information given to them.  Have you ever observed a situation where a person knew that something was true; the explanation was clear and irrefutable but the person refused to believe it.  This is another one of those cases.

Jesus continues in verse 26 by telling them that He has many more things that He could say to judge and condemn them, but He speaks only the things that the Father wants Him to say.  God the Father is making the judgments and Jesus is passing those words on to them saying, “the Father who sent is true; and the things I heard from Him, these I speak to the world.”  He’s pointing out that the remarks they have been making were not only directed at Him but also at God the Father.

VI.  TWO MORE CLAIMS SILENCE HIS LISTENERS (verses 27-30)

In verse 27, the apostle John makes this comment:  “They did not realize that He had been speaking to them about the Father.”  John may be writing those words as one who was there, giving a possible reason for their sudden silence.  Personally, I think they knew what He was saying but couldn’t understand how it could be true.  Therefore, they refused to believe it but didn’t know what to say to Him.  There were no sarcastic remarks this time, but they still refused to acknowledge who He is.  In verse 28, Jesus goes on to say, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me.”   Jesus is talking about His crucifixion, and they are the ones who will be crucifying Him.  They will be handing Him over to the Roman authorities and demanding His crucifixion.  How will His death be proof that He is the Messiah?  There will be the miracles that accompany His death and follow His death.  For example, the three hours of darkness in the middle of the day, the earthquake, the words He said while on the cross, and the unusual way that Jesus gave up His spirit.  Add to that His burial, resurrection, appearances, and ascension into heaven.  There is another unmentioned proof that Jesus is truly the Messiah – the fulfillment of the prophecies of the Messiah as the Suffering Servant (Isaiah 52-53, Psalm 22, and many other Scripture passages in the Old Testament).  They were fulfilled completely, in every detail.  It was now obvious that these Scripture passages didn’t apply figuratively to the nation of Israel, but literally to Jesus Christ.

Jesus’ second claim, in the remainder of verse 28 as well as verse 29, was His perfect obedience and fellowship with His heavenly Father.  Here are Jesus’ words:  “I do nothing on my own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me.  And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.”  Jesus’ life was consistent with His message.  They would not be able to deny that Jesus’ obedience to the Father was perfect, even to the point of death.

Verse 30 tells us, “many came to believe in Him”.  As we progress through the rest of chapter 8, we’ll learn whether or not this belief was real.

CONCLUSION:

If you are not a true follower of Jesus Christ; if you haven’t experienced a changed life as the result of making Jesus Christ the Lord of your life, please give that decision some serious thought.  Please heed the warnings before an eternal disaster strikes you.  If it happens, it will be no laughing matter!  It’s a matter or eternal life in heaven or eternal suffering in hell.  Please don’t put it off.  There will be no excuses.

If you are a Christian, God has called you to be His ambassador.  As ambassadors of Christ, believers have a responsibility to warn people of the consequences of their unbelief and rebellion against God.

Here’s an example from American history.  “Late one night a salesman drove into a strange city and tried to get a room in a hotel.  The clerk informed him that there was no vacancy.  Disappointed, he started to leave the lobby when a dignified gentleman offered to share his room with him.  Gratefully, the traveler accepted his kindness.

Just before retiring, the man who had shown such hospitality knelt and prayed aloud.  In his petition, he referred to the stranger by name and asked the Lord to bless him.  Upon awakening the next morning, he told his guest it was his habit to read the Bible and commune with God at the beginning of each day, and asked if he would like to join him.  The Holy Spirit had been speaking to the heart of this salesman, and when the host tactfully confronted him with the claims of Christ, he gladly received the Savior.

As the two were ready to part, they exchanged business cards.  The new believer was amazed to read, “William Jennings Bryan, Secretary of State.”  You see, William Jennings Bryan was not only the Secretary of State under Woodrow Wilson, but more importantly, he was an ambassador for Christ.

May you consider that role to be both a privilege and a responsibility, and decide to pursue it wholeheartedly.  Let’s be ready, willing, and able!

CONSTRUCTION SITE:  COMPLETED

Welcome to this completed project:  John 8:21-30.  I hope you will come back again soon when you’re in the neighborhood.  There are many completed projects on this site.

 

 

THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD – John 8:12-20

John 8:12-20, Uncategorized

I imagine that most, if not all of us, have been in a tunnel. What’s the best thing about a tunnel? It’s the light at the end of it, right? And the best thing about a cloudy day is when the sun peeks through those clouds and often spreads a rainbow across the sky. Most of us enjoy the light and prefer it over the darkness. This earth would be a cold, dark, lifeless planet if there were no sun in the sky to give it light and warmth. In John 8:12, Jesus makes a statement about Himself, and He couldn’t have picked a more appropriate setting to make His announcement.

I.  THE SETTING (verse 20)

Before we examine His announcement, let’s first skip down to verse 20 for a moment in order to learn the location of Jesus and to find out what is happening around Him.  The apostle John writes, “These words He [Jesus] spoke in the treasury, as He taught in the temple.” This treasury was located in the Court of the Women.  Thirteen treasure chests were there for the various kinds of offerings.  This was a very busy place, with a constant flow of worshippers coming in and going out.  The Mishnah, which is a lengthy Jewish commentary on the Law of Moses, states that, on every night of the Feast of Tabernacles, the Court of the Women was to be brilliantly lit up.  Historians tell us that four large candelabra burned brightly in the temple area to commemorate the pillar of fire which led the Israelites through the wilderness. 

II.  JESUS’ DECLARATION (verse 12)

It’s in this setting that Jesus declares loudly, “I am the light of the world.”  Another event may have been happening outside the temple at that very same moment.  John 8:2 says that it was early in the morning when Christ came to the temple.  He may have made that claim just as the sun was rising that morning.  The Courtyard of the Women was an open courtyard so the brightness of the sun, dispelling the darkness, would have been observed and welcomed by all who were there.  When Jesus shouted out His claim at that moment, He was comparing Himself to the rising sun.  This would have caused the people to think that Jesus was once again claiming to be God.  For the Jew, the sun was the symbol of Jehovah God.  Psalm 84:11 says, “For the Lord our God is a sun and shield.”  This planet of ours has only one sun and it is the source of our light.  The word “light” is an Old Testament image for the Messiah.  Isaiah 9:2 says, “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in the dark land, the light will shine on them.”

The Lord Jesus not only said that He was the light but “the light of the world.”  He and His light were not just for the Jews only.  It’s interesting that the Court of the Women, where Jesus is speaking, is the only court in the temple that was designed with large openings or windows so that the light could be seen outside by people in many parts of the city of Jerusalem,  I wonder if that thought came to the minds of some of the people who were there and heard Jesus make that claim.

Jesus goes on to say, “he who follows Me shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life.”  He’s drawing the attention of the people back to the image of the pillar of fire.  In the exodus from Egypt, God didn’t put the pillar of fire in the sky as something for the people of Israel to look at and admire.  It was a light to lead them through the wilderness to the promised land.  Jesus is saying that He is the light who leads them out of the darkness of sin to a relationship with Himself.

In Benjamin Franklin’s day, the streets of Philadelphia were dark after sunset.  Night time pedestrians had to walk cautiously to avoid rocks and holes.  Franklin decided to set a good example for his fellow citizens by placing a lantern outside his home.  As people stumbled down his street at night, they would come to that oasis of light and realize what a blessing it was.  Soon other Philadelphians were setting out their own lanterns.  After sunset,  the whole village became a place of illumined safety.  In a spiritual sense, this world of ours can also be a very dark place.  Have you found that to be true at times?  There is a need for the Light to guide our way. 

III.  THE RESPONSE (verse 13)

As expected, the Pharisees make their reply and give their judgment.  Verse 13 says, “The Pharisees therefore said to Him, ‘You are bearing witness to yourself.  Your witness is not true’.”  Their reference is to Deuteronomy 19:15 and they are using it out of context.  That verse says, “A single witness shall not rise up against a man on account of any iniquity or sin which he has committed; on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed.”  The rest of that chapter refers to witnesses in a criminal case.  Two or three witnesses are required in court to settle a dispute or pass judgment on a crime.  That command was expressed earlier by God in Deuteronomy 17:6, which says, “On the evidence of two witnesses or three witnesses, he who is to die shall be put to death; he shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness.”  That law didn’t apply in this situation.  The Pharisees were either unfamiliar with that law or were purposely making up their own rules of evidence in order to gain the approval of the crowd in the temple.    

IV.  JESUS’ FIRST REPLY — I AM MY OWN WITNESS  (verses 14-15)

Rather than point out their mistake, the Lord Jesus responds to their objection.  He begins by saying, “Even if I bear witness of Myself, My witness is true; for I know where I came  from and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from, or where I am going.”  He’s telling them that He has the authority and qualifications to talk about Himself whereas they do not.  If they had recognized the true identity of Jesus, they wouldn’t have made that statement.  They asked the question because they refused to acknowledge His true identity.  Did the Old Testament prophets need witnesses to confirm that they were prophets?  No.  Their words and their actions were proof enough.  Does light need a witness that it exists?  No.  Light provides its own witness as we see it and feel the warmth of it.  In this verse, Jesus has stated His credentials.  A famous surgeon doesn’t need witnesses to testify to his competence every time he performs a surgery.  A well-known and respected judge doesn’t need witnesses to affirm his ability to judge a case in court.  The skills of these two professionals speak for themselves; they are a matter of public record.  Jesus is telling these Pharisees to come out of the darkness of their unbelief and into the light of reality, and then examine His credentials clearly and thoroughly.

In verse 15, the Lord Jesus makes a charge against them when He says, “You people judge according to the flesh; I am not judging anyone.”  He’s comparing their attitude and their perspective to His own.  They make their judgments based upon externals, relying upon their own human knowledge and personal biases.  Rather than judging on the basis of God’s Word, which reveals the thoughts and intents of the heart, they want to make their own rules and exalt themselves in the process of enforcing them.  Jesus, on the other hand, is not judging anyone.  His purpose for coming to this earth was not judgment but salvation (John 3:17-17; 12:47).  We have already seen that purpose exemplified in Jesus’ response to the woman in John 8:1-12.  He said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go your way.  From now on sin no more.” 

V.  JESUS’ SECOND REPLY — THE FATHER IS ALSO MY WITNESS (verses 16-18)

In verse 16 Jesus qualifies His previous statement by saying, “But even if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone in it, but I and He who sent Me.” He is saying, “If My own words and My own works are not enough to convince you, I have a second witness.  That witness is the one who sent Me.”  Jesus is humbly describing Himself as the ambassador of His heavenly Father.  An ambassador is an official representative from one country to another.  In this case, Jesus was sent from heaven to earth with an important message and mission.  An ambassador speaks the message of the one who sent him, with the authority of the one who sent him.  Therefore Jesus says, in verse 16, “My decisions are right.”

Over the centuries, ambassadors have been highly regarded and shown the utmost respect because of the countries and leaders they have represented.  Here is one case in point.  W.D. Dunn, the evangelist, was holding a campaign of gospel meetings in a large hall in the town of Motherwell, Lanarkshire, Scotland, an industrial town about 10 miles from Glasgow.  Having attended the funeral of a friend, Dunn arrived at the Carlisle station just after his train left.  His only hope of making it to his appointment on time was an express train that did not stop in Motherwell.

Approaching the Stationmaster, he asked if the express train to Glasgow could be stopped for a minute or two at Motherwell to enable him to alight and be in time for a very important meeting there.  The Stationmaster said it could not be done.  Lifting up his heart in prayer, the evangelist was turning away when the Stationmaster added:  “But are you a Member of Parliament?  I have authority to have the train stopped for a M.P.”  “No,” replied Dunn, “I am not an M.P.; but I hold a much higher rank.  I am an ambassador.”  “An ambassador,” said the Stationmaster.  “All right, I shall have the train stopped at Motherwell for you.”  Mr. Dunn walked off, thanking him, but on further consideration, he felt he ought to clarify his position to the Stationmaster.  Going back to him again, he said, “I told you I was an ambassador, and that is true.  But I am not an ambassador of an earthly king.  I am an ambassador of the King of kings, and have a message from Him for over 1000 people who will gather at Motherwell to hear it.  Now I have told you frankly my position.  Will the train still stop at Motherwell?”  “Yes”, replied the Stationmaster, “I have arranged that it shall stop and it will stop without fail.”  This ambassador for Christ received the respect and treatment worthy of the One who sent him.

The Lord Jesus has also declared that He is the ambassador of His heavenly Father, and in verses 17 and 18 He continues to use the Scriptures to prove His authority.  These are His words:  Even in your law it has been written, that the testimony of two witnesses is true.  I am He who bears witness of Myself, and the Father who sent Me bears witness of Me.”  Jesus might be called the “Expert Witness” demonstrated by His life, His words, and His miracles.  His Father might be called the “Source Witness” – the One who authorized, sent, and empowered His “Expert Witness”.  According to the Law, this is more than sufficient proof.  The burden is now on His listeners to try to disprove it.

VI.  RESPONSE AND REBUTTAL (verse 19)

What do you say when your accusation has been disproven and there’s really nothing more to say?  How do you keep yourself from saying anything at all?  Have you ever been in that situation?  What was your response (if any)?

In this case, the Pharisees asked for more physical evidence. “Where is your Father”, they ask.  I visualize them looking around as they said those words, seeking an older man with His family resemblance  They wanted Jesus to point him out so that they could interrogate him.

Once again, the Pharisees fail to realize that when Jesus talks about the Father, He’s referring to God.  How many times do they have to hear those words from Him?  They have already tried to stone Him to death for saying those words because He was making Himself equal with God by calling God His Father (John 5:18).  Jesus replies to them, making His point very clear:  “You know neither Me, nor My Father; if you had known Me, you would know My Father also.”  That was a well-deserved, stinging rebuke!

The Pharisees were still in the tunnel spiritually.  They preferred darkness to the light of truth because the truth didn’t agree with their own belief system.  The witness of the Father was not only through Jesus Christ, the living Word, but also through the written word of God, and they rejected both.

VII.  NO ARREST (verse 20)

In verse 20 we are once again informed of the practices of the Pharisees and other leaders of the Jews.  When they can’t disprove or deny the evidence, they seek to destroy it.  In this case, the evidence is Jesus Christ.  Verse 20 ends with the words, “And no one seized Him, because His hour had not yet come.”  They wanted to seize him alright, but God restrained them.  The hour when Jesus would be arrested was in the Father’s timing, not theirs.

CONCLUSION:

Are you personally in a “spiritual tunnel” at this moment in your life?  Are you seeking the light at the end of it, or are you content to be in spiritual darkness?  The only light at the end of that tunnel is Jesus Christ.  There is no way to the Father except through the Son (John 14:6; I Timothy 2:5).  You can’t know God except through Jesus Christ.  That is the very core of the Gospel message.  If you choose to believe in Him and follow Him, the Lord Jesus will dispel the darkness and fill your life with the light of His presence (John 1:4-5; II Corinthians 5:17).  I hope that today will be that day, as you let the Son shine in your life.

If you are a committed follower of Jesus Christ, the Lord Jesus wants the light of His presence to shine brightly in the midst of the world of spiritual darkness around you.  As Jesus said in His Sermon on the Mount, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).  We are ambassadors for the King of kings.  God wants to use us to bring others to Himself (II Corinthians 5:20).  May our words and our lives be used by God to bring many out of their darkness and into His glorious light!  

CONSTRUCTION SITE:  COMPLETED

Thank you for visiting this completed project:  John 8:12-20.  Now that you know the location, I hope you will drop by for a visit again soon.  There are almost 150 other messages on this site.