The agony of defeat! Do those words bring back memories from the past? Has a personal defeat or the defeat of your favorite team ever left you speechless for a few moments? Did you feel shocked, drained emotionally, and at a loss for words? We’ve all experienced times like that, haven’t we? You don’t feel like saying anything, and even if you did, you don’t know what you would say. You’re still trying to process it through your brain so that you can decide what to say and do next. Recently, on June 22nd of this year, one of Argentina’s leading sportscasters, held a minute of silence after their national soccer team was defeated decisively by Croatia, with a final score of 3-0. It was one of those occasions!
The passage of Scripture we are now studying, John 7:25-30, begins on a similar note. After being defeated by Jesus’ arguments in verses 19-24, all is quiet on the Jerusalem front . . . too quiet! Jesus continues to teach in the temple and the rulers of the Jews are doing nothing to stop Him. These rulers who have been trying to kill Him, are now standing there quietly, taking it all in. What’s going on? The people of Jerusalem are trying to come up with an explanation for this phenomenon. That’s the scene as we begin our study of John 7:25-30.
I. THE PEOPLE EXPRESS THEIR THOUGHTS (verses 25-26)
In their amazement and confusion, the people of Jerusalem look at each other and ask themselves, “Could it be?”, or more accurately, “It couldn’t be, could it?” Here are their words in verses 25-26: ” . . . Is this not the man whom they were seeking to kill? 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?” In their confusion, they are beginning to ask each other, “Is there something the rulers know that we don’t know?” “Is there something they haven’t told us?” “They’ve been seeking to kill Him as an impostor; do they now have evidence that proves that He’s really the Messiah?” They are beginning to come to a conclusion based upon what they see and hear. But that line of reasoning was very short-lived. They dismissed that idea in a hurry. It was an opportunity to reconsider their persuasion about Jesus, and they turned it down. In verse 27 we learn why they quickly answered their own questions and changed their minds.
II. THE PEOPLE CHANGE THEIR MINDS (verse 27)
Verse 27 reads, “However, we know where this man is from; but whenever the Christ may come, no one knows where He is from.” In their minds, Jesus couldn’t be the Messiah because they knew where He was from – at least, they thought they knew. The rulers surmised that Jesus was born in Nazareth because that’s where He grew up. They didn’t realize, nor did they care to know, that He was actually born in Bethlehem in fulfillment of Micah’s prophesy concerning the birthplace of the Messiah.(Micah 5:2). Little did they know that, by saying those words about Jesus in verse 27, they were fulfilling prophesy. The prophet Isaiah says in Isaiah 53:3, “He was despised and forsaken of men . . . He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.” That’s no way to treat your long-awaited Messiah!
The rest of verse 27 tells us what caused them to change their minds in such a hurry. They reverted back to what they had been taught. But there is much more to their comment than just the physical birthplace of Jesus. They are also referring to the way in which the Messiah is supposed to appear on the scene. The rabbis taught that the Messiah would make Himself known suddenly and without warning. A popular belief was that the immediate ancestry of the Messiah would not be known. In fact, many of them believed that the Messiah Himself wouldn’t know who He was or where He was from. According to the teaching of the rulers, the Messiah would have no identity nor power until the prophet Elijah suddenly appears and anoints Him as King. Justin, a second-century writer, received that same response in a conversation with a Jew. Suddenness was key to their beliefs concerning the coming of the Messiah. Bible commentators, William Barclay and Leon Morris, both share a popular saying of the rabbis of that day: “Three things come wholly unexpectedly: the Messiah, a godsend (or windfall), and a scorpion.” In spite of all the prophesies of Scripture that the Lord Jesus has already fulfilled by His birth, His life, His words, and His miracles, these inhabitants of Jerusalem would rather stick with sayings and speculations that aren’t even found in the Scriptures. It almost makes me want to shout, “Surprise! He’s already here in your presence, and He’s the topic of your conversations!”
III. JESUS PROCLAIMS HIS TRUE IDENTITY (verses 28-29)
Obviously, Jesus knows what they have been saying to one another about Him because He cries out in a loud voice for everyone in the temple to hear. We live in an age of microphones, amplifiers and speaker systems, but have you ever said, in a loud voice, “Your attention, please”, or a similar phrase to get everyone to focus their attention on you and what you have to say? That was Jesus’ purpose for raising His voice. He wanted everyone to hear what He was about to say to them because it was important information. The Lord Jesus taught in many different areas of the temple. For example, He taught in the Court of the Gentiles (John 2:13-16 and Luke 19:45-48), Solomon’s Porch (John 10:23), and the Court of the Women (Mark 10:41). In this case, He was in one of the courtyards of the temple, and the bigger the room and the noisier the crowd, the louder you have to shout, right? This is not the first time, and it won’t be the last time that He shouts loud enough for all to hear. In those days the rabbis would sit as they instructed the people, but Jesus stood, as the prophets of the Old Testament stood when they proclaimed what God had revealed to them. We find an example of this in verse 37. The Lord Jesus would also be able to project His voice farther from that standing position.
The following are the words spoken by Jesus in verse 28: “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.” I wonder whether the first words from His mouth startled the people even more than His loud voice. He was agreeing with them! At least, that’s the way it appears when He says, “You both know Me and know where I am from.” Why would He say that? Is there any truth to that statement? Is He being sarcastic? No, this is all part of His plan as He directs the conversation. After all, He did grow up in Nazareth as the Son of Mary and Joseph. That’s all these leaders know about Him, and that’s all they care to know. Rather than argue with them about His human origin, Jesus reminds them of His heavenly mission. There’s more to the story than just human geography. Before He was born, He was sent. That makes Him greater than the prophets, who were called by God at a specific time in their lives and sent out to proclaim His message, whereas Jesus was sent before He was born.
Once again, the Lord Jesus adjusts the focus of their attention, moving it away from Himself and placing it upon the Sender. They know that He is talking about God because He has used those words before. He describes His Heavenly Father with these words: “He who sent Me is true.” Wouldn’t that be obvious to His listeners? The Scriptures describe God as being eternal and unchanging. But the word “true”, in this instance, has a different meaning. Jesus is saying that the One who sent Him is “real”. He’s “authentic” and “genuine”. He’s “worthy of being believed”. He can be known personally and intimately. He is worthy of genuine worship and wholehearted obedience.
This revelation about God is followed by a rebuke, as Jesus reveals what’s true concerning His listeners. After describing the Father who sent Him, Jesus looks around at them and says “whom you do not know”. He has made that statement several times before and He’ll be saying it again. They did not know God because they did not know Jesus nor recognize Him as their Messiah. You can’t know one without the other. They are inseparable.
In verse 29, Jesus summarizes what He has just said, giving the basis for His knowledge of God. He says, “I know Him because I am from Him, and He sent me.” His knowledge [“I know Him”], His origin [“I am from Him”], and His mission [“He sent me”] constitute a strong foundation for His identity as the Messiah, the Son of God.
IV. THE INITIAL RESPONSE (verse 30)
End of discussion! Since they couldn’t refute Him, and they refused to believe the words Jesus said about them, verse 30 tells us: “They were seeking therefore to seize Him.” The leaders wanted to apprehend Him and take Him into custody so that the people would no longer be able to listen to Him.
However, there were two obstacles keeping them from accomplishing their desire. First of all, the nation of Israel was under Roman law, and the only ones who had the authority to arrest someone were the Roman authorities and the Temple authorities. The other reason why the Jews couldn’t take Jesus into custody at that time is given in the remainder of verse 30 – ” no man laid his hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come.” The time of His betrayal and arrest was set by the Father, and until then, there was much work to be done.
Why is it so hard to resist revenge or retaliation, even when you’re the one in the wrong? The problem still exists today. Psychologists have given a name to this phenomenon. They call it “cognitive immunization” The term is used to explain how some people’s minds become immune to reality, and their mistaken beliefs become even stronger in the face of reality or truth. The Bible speaks of such people as those who have “seared their own conscience as with a branding iron” (I Timothy 4:2). It’s a matter of personal choice and responsibility. The following true story teaches a lesson about revenge.
A successful young lawyer in Hungary during the 1950’s was a strong believer in freedom for his country. When the uprising failed, he was forced to flee the country. He arrived in the U.S. with no money, no job, and no friends. He was, however, well-educated; he spoke and wrote several languages, including English. For several months he tried to get a job in a law office, but because of his lack of familiarity with American law, he received only polite refusals.
Finally, it occurred to him that with his knowledge of language he might be able to get a job with an import-export company. He selected one such company and wrote a letter to the owner. Two weeks later he received an answer, but was hardly prepared for the vindictiveness of the man’s reply. Among other things, it said that even if they did need someone, they wouldn’t hire him because he couldn’t even write good English.
Crushed, this young lawyer’s hurt quickly turned to anger. What right did this rude, arrogant man have to tell him that he couldn’t write the language! The man was obviously crude and uneducated — his letter was chock-full of grammatical errors! So he sat down and, in the white heat of anger, wrote a scathing reply, calculated to rip the man to shreds. When he’d finished, however, as he was reading it over, his anger began to drain away. Then he remembered the Bible verse, “A soft answer turneth away wrath.”
No, he wouldn’t mail the letter. Maybe the man was right. English was not his native tongue. Maybe he did need further study in it. Possibly this man had done him a favor by making him realize he did need to work harder on perfecting his English. He tore up the letter and wrote another. This time he apologized for the previous letter, explained his situation, and thanked the man for pointing out his need for further study.
Two days later he received a phone call inviting him to New York for an interview. A week later he went to work for them as a correspondent. Later, he became vice president and executive officer of the company, destined to succeed the man he had hated and sought revenge against for a fleeting moment — and then resisted.
Life is filled with choices, isn’t it? Most of those choices have a reason and a motive behind them. Some of our choices can have long-lasting effects, as that illustration pointed out. The only choice in this life that will change the direction of our lives for eternity is the personal choice to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as one’s Lord and Savior, and follow Him. In verse 28, after describing His relationship to His heavenly Father, He looked around at His listeners and said “whom you do not know”. Do you know God? Do you have a personal and intimate relationship with Him? That’s not possible without knowing and following the One whom He has sent. This is an opportunity to reconsider your persuasion about Jesus Christ. Please don’t turn it down. Don’t respond to the truths of God’s Word with anger, hatred, or excuses. Resist that urge. Tear up those thoughts and feelings and start over again. Let God give you a fresh perspective and a new life as a result of believing in Jesus Christ and following Him. He will give you peace, joy, and purpose, with no regrets (II Corinthians 5:17).
If you have already made that decision and are now a follower of Christ, with a transformed life and a new purpose for living, share those riches in Christ with those around you. There is more than enough, and the need is great.
CONSTRUCTION SITE: COMPLETED
May God give you insight and draw you closer to Him as you study and apply His Word.