John 7 verse 14 to 39. Not until halfway through the festival, did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach? The Jews there were amazed and asked How did this man get such learning without having been taught? Jesus answered, my teaching is not my own.
It comes from the 1 who sent me. Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the 1 who sent him is a man of truth. There is nothing false about him. He has not has not Moses given you the law.
Yet not 1 of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me? You are demon possessed. The crowd answered, who is trying to kill you? Jesus said to them, I did 1 miracle, and you were all amazed.
Yet because Moses gave you circumcision, though, actually, it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarch You circumcise a boy on the Sabbath. Now if a boy can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, Why are you angry with me for healing a man's whole body on the Sabbath? Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly. At that point, some of the people of Jerusalem began to ask, isn't this the man they are trying to kill Here he is speaking publicly, and they are not saying a word to him. Have the authorities really concluded that he is the Messiah, but we know where this man is from.
When the Messiah comes, no 1 will know where he's from. Then Jesus still teaching at the temple courts cried out. Yes. You know me, and you know where I am from I am not here on my own authority, but he who sent me is true. You do not know him, but I know him because I am from him and he sent me.
At this, they quickly tried to seize him, but no 1 laid a hand on him because his hour had not yet come. Still many in the crowd believed in him. They said, when the Messiah comes, will he perform more signs than this man? The fireasies heard the crowd whispering such things about him. Then the chief priests and the fireasies sent temple guards to arrest him.
Jesus said, I am with you for only a short time, and then I am going to the 1 who sent me. You will look for me, but you will not find me and where I am and where I am, you cannot come. The Jews said to 1 another, Where does this man intend to go that we cannot find him? Will he go where our people live scattered among the Greeks? And teach the Greece, what did he mean when he said you will look for me, but you will not find me.
And where I'm I am, you cannot come. On the last and greatest day of festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice Let anyone who has thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them. By this, he meant the spirit whom those who believed in him were later to receive Up to that time, the spirits had not been given since Jesus had not yet been glorified. Thank you, Abri.
Good evening, Will. We pray. Father, we do thank you for your life giving word. And we thank you that your word has the power to prevail over the unbelief in our hearts, that your word has the power to save the lost to sanctify your people, that the church of Jesus Christ will be built through his word. And we pray that as we look at it together this evening, that you would open our eyes, that you would help us to see treasures new and old, that you would expose the areas in which in in our lives where we're living in unbelief and not looking to you as our lord and savior, and that you lead us in repentance and new life this evening.
We pray in Jesus' name, amen. Several years ago, as a staff team, we we produced this article. I can't remember who actually wrote it. I think we wrote it as a team called 10 questions for for atheists. And that's really all that it was.
It was 10 main questions for atheists, followed by a string of sub questions that was just designed to give Christians some resources or a resource so that they could engage with unbelieving friends and neighbors. It wasn't designed to answer the questions. It didn't give a whole load of content. It was just a load of questions in order to spark some discussion. And that's that's what it did.
And in the last couple of weeks, an atheist blogger stumbled across the article on our website and decided that she would produce in response a video, a YouTube video. She's got about 80000 followers or something like that, where she would go through these questions in order to try to answer them. And she did it in a in a kind of half silly, half serious, half mocking, half engaging kind of way. And we we liked it, actually. We thought it was good.
And we wrote to her, and we said, look, we'd love to because she lives in Southhurst London. We said, we'd love you to come down to the church. You can help us to write 10 better questions for atheists. You know, we can talk about how to engage, haven't heard from her yet, but but we enjoyed watching the video. Since then, I've had a number of atheists writing to the church who've come across her video, and they have attached their own word documents to the email, and themselves have had a go.
Answering the various different questions, those 10 questions. And I thought that I would share some of them some of those answers with you this evening. And you'll see why in a minute. So the first question in the article is this, how do you know there is no God? And this is 1 of the answers.
I can't, but I do claim that no 1 has ever produced concrete evidence to support the existence of God. Another 1 said, I cannot, and do not claim to know everything about the universe, and neither can you. I require more than an unproven probability to form a belief If a god exists, I definitely would want to know. In other words, you know, he's sort of saying, I'm agnostic on the issue. You know, if evidence was provided, if if I could see proper evidence from God, then I would believe that's my posture.
I mean, a posture of willingness to believe there's an openness there. But it's interesting because as you read through the responses, you find that somewhere along the line, that openness and that willingness gives way to a certain unbelief that has really been there all along. So, here's some of Here's some of the responses from later on. What is the Bible? Question 9.
The Bible is a collection of fairy tales and has nothing to do with atheism. That's it. Question 10, who is Jesus? Jesus is a character in the aforementioned collection of fairy tales. Another response to question 9, if I lay a bible next to a copy of Harry Potter, they are very similar.
They are a collection of paper held within a cover both containing works of fiction. In a Christian's mind, they believe the magic in the bible is real. And then at the end of this particular response, there's a quote from Richard Dorkins, And then a final sentence that says, if God is real, I certainly would not put my trust in here. So it's quite interesting because at the beginning, right, at the beginning of the responses, you've got if there is a god, I would definitely like to know. There's a kind of openness and a willingness to engage with these topics.
But when you dig below the surface, and when you give it enough time, you see, in reality, the decisions have already been made, and the questions are being asked not in order to get at the truth, but in order to justify the unbelief in which they are already in. I would definitely want to know if he existed, I certainly would not. Trust in him. Now, there's lots of stuff that I would like to talk to you about from those different responses, lots of things we could engage with. But I just want us to think about that way of using questions this evening, because it's 1 of the keys which really unlocks what's going on in this particular passage.
Depending on your translation, there are 6 questions that are asked in this particular passage or by the crowds and the authorities, And to start with, they seem fairly harmless. You know, here is Jesus, and he's teaching in public. Our leaders aren't doing anything about it. I wonder where he's from. Maybe he would just appear as we think.
No. Why where's he saying he's going? Is he gonna go to our people scattered? Is he going to go to the Greeks? You know, they seem like fairly harmless questions.
And yet, as we saw last week, the context of this whole chapter is unbelief. This is all about unbelief. And what we're gonna see this evening is that there are 2 threads running through this passage. There's the kind of confused questioning of the crowds, which masks their unbelief. And then alongside that is the certain clear, convinced Jesus Christ, who knows exactly where he's from.
He knows exactly what he's doing, and he knows exactly where he's going. So in the face of unbelief, Jesus responds with those 3 things. He knows where he's from, personally. He knows what he's doing, secondly, and he knows where he's going. Thirdly.
So let's begin with that first 1. He knows, the lord Jesus knows where he's from. In the face of unbelief, he knows where he's from. And today, in this passage, we pick up the story, and we're inside these Jews discussing who Jesus is. And he's a bit like a Rubik's cube for them.
You know, they're they're trying to they're trying to twist him around, they're trying to get the blocks in the right order, they're trying to manipulate what they know about him so that they can have a kind of hold, so they can have something, and present something, and be sure of something. That's what they're doing. They're discussing, who he is trying to work it out. And this discussion is continuing from some of the things we saw last week in verses 12 to 13. So if you have a look at verses 12 to 13.
Among the crowds, there was widespread whispering about him. Some said he's a good man. Others replied, no. He deceives the people, but no 1 would say anything publicly about him for fear of the leaders. And it's the same kind of thing we see tonight.
You can imagine them as a crowd standing there. And 1 of them says, Isn't this the man they're trying to kill? He's speaking so openly and so boldly against our leaders. Yeah. That's right.
And they're just leaving him. Well, maybe they believe in him. Well, no. That can't be right because when Messiah comes, no 1 will know where he's from, and we know where this guy's from. Yeah.
No. You're right. No 1 he'll just be like, you know, PowerPoint, custom animation, appear. He's just gonna appear onto the stage. No.
But that can't be right, verse 42, and we'll see this next because he's from Bethlehem. Isn't he? Don't we have that? Oh, yeah, you're yeah, you're right. That's right.
And so this this is the big issue for them. They're trying to put the information together and work out who Jesus is and where he's from. You might remember in the last share life, if you were around, just a show of hands who was around for the last share life, lots of people. Steve Marmy and 1 of our members, He put on a kind of trace your family roots evening. And we were back there in the pink room.
I remember it, and he loaded up some software and he was teaching us ways in which we could find out about our family history, websites we could access how to read our kind of birth certificates so we could go back and see where we've come from and what our family history is. And it was fascinating. It was really, really interesting evening. And you know, these these Jews would have been all over an evening like that. I mean, they loved that kind of thing.
They wanted to know where people were from and what tribe they would send it from, what their family line was all about, and what their heritage was. Those were those were big questions for them, particularly when it came to the Messiah. But as we're gonna see, although these seem like harmless questions, Jesus sees what's really going on in their hearts. He knows what these questions are all about. Have a look at verse 28.
Then, Jesus still teaching in the Temple Courts, cried out. Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. I am not here on my own authority, but he who sent me is true, you do not know him. But I know him because I am from him. And he sent me.
I don't know about you, but I love listening in to people's conversations. It's 1 of my favorite pastimes. When you're on the train or when you're on the bus, just hearing other people talking, listening into them when they're their friends or when they're on the phone is great. You can learn so much about people and their relationships and their worries and their hope just from listening in. I feel sorry for people who've got their headphones in all the time, because they just miss out on so much good that you could pick up from other people's conversations.
But rarely would I, and I guess we, ever enter into somebody else's conversation. Now, if they were asking for directions something, and you knew the answer, you might. But if they were talking about their relationships or things they'd read or things they'd seen, we would rarely just sort of say, do you mind if I just give my opinion on on that as well. It's not in most of us to do that. And yet, look at what Jesus does here.
It's fascinating. It looks like he's in the middle of tea He's in the middle of teaching, and he becomes aware of, or at least knows these kinds of discussions are going on. And what he does is he turns to address it in the middle of his sermon and brings it into his sermon. And what he does here is quite unusual because we're told that he cries out. Now, there was a prophecy in the Old Testament in the book of Isaiah, that said that Jesus would not be 1 who raised his voice in the public squares.
He would not try to compete with the noise on the street. He would not cry out. But here, he kind of departs from that norm because this is such an important topic, and it needs publicly addressing. And what he says to them is, yes, there is a sense in which you know where I am from. I am from Galile, although in brackets, I am actually from Bethlehem.
I was I was born in Bethlehem, but I did grow up in Galile. You do you do know that. But that is not my true home. I have come from the father in heaven. That was the opening blast of the gospel, wasn't it?
John 1 1, in the beginning was the word, and the word was with God. That is where he has come from. He was in the beginning with god, and he has come from there. And so he's saying to them, look, you you get all distracted about where I was born. You get all distracted about the geography of my life.
But I'm telling you that theology is your main problem. It's your theology. You're arguing about where I'm from and where I grew up and who will know when I'm gonna appear. I'm telling you that I am from the father. So Jesus is making these massive claims in this passage.
I know where I am from. I have been sent by the father. I have come from him. Me and the father, we have the same mission, the same glory, the same home, me and him are 1. I am god.
That's what he's saying to them. But you you don't know me. You wanna argue about, was he Joseph? Is Joseph his dad? And where's he from?
And we'll know? And where's his birth certificate? But all of those questions as harmless as they sound are really trying to justify the unbelief that you are in. It's interesting those atheist questions, isn't it? How do we trust the bible on?
Who put the bible together and which Jesus are you talking about? There was loads of Jesuses in the first century. How do we know which Jesus to believe in? Sometimes those can be genuine questions very often they are an attempt just to justify unbelief. And yet into that confusion and chaos and unbelief comes this certain voice, Jesus.
I know where I am from. I know where I am from. Not only that secondly, he knows what he's doing. He knows where he's from, and he knows what he's doing. Have a look with me at verse 30.
At this, they tried to seize him. Of course, they did. Of course, they did. They know what's going on. They know what he's claiming.
They know what he's saying there about himself and about god as his father. At this, they tried to seize him. But verse 31, still, many in the crowd believed in him They said, when the Messiah comes, will he perform more signs than this man? And it's interesting because the word more there can also mean greater. So they may not be just talking about the quantity of his signs, but the quality of them.
Will he do more than this? Will he do greater ones than this? Will the Messiah be able to do more glorious signs than even this man did. And although the context of this chapter is under leach, In some senses, there's no reason to doubt this, you know, this may well be the beginnings of true faith even amongst this unbelieving crowd. Although, John has been trying to teach us in the gospel that we ought to be skeptical of the kind of faith that rests only upon signs.
We should be skeptical of that kind of faith. But either way, these leaders are not happy. They don't like the public teaching of us. They like even less that people are talking about it on the streets. They don't like 1 Maverick shouting his mouth off in public.
They like even less that this maverick is beginning to influence people and maybe even persuade them. And so you can see verse 32, the pharisees heard the crowd whispering such things about him. Then the chief priests and the pharisees sent temple guards to arrest him. But as we've already seen, they can't. They can't lay a hand on him.
Now why is that? Is that because they don't have the opportunity? Well, no. They seem to have the opportunity. Is it because they don't have the firepower?
Well, no. It seems like they probably do have the firepower. So what's the problem? The problem is they don't have permission from almighty god. See verse 6, we saw this last week.
Jesus told them my time is not yet here. My time is not yet here for you anytime we'll do. And then verse 30, at this, they tried to seat him, but no 1 laid a hand on him because his hour had yet come. And I just love the sovereignty of god in this chapter because not only did they come to him, and are unable to seize him. But in God's sovereignty, he's gonna keep them there to listen to what he has to say.
It's just wonderful, isn't it? Remember last week when Rory was helpfully opening up the first bit of this chapter, he was saying that so often people fall into unbelief because they have no concept of the sovereignty of God. They have no concept that this lord Jesus Christ is working to his own timing and the timing of the father. For them, any time will do. They think they can manipulate him, control, him, set his agenda decide where he goes and who he talks to.
They have no concept of God's sovereignty. And here we see the Lord Jesus Christ is still apt absolutely in control of his timing and his agenda. Like all of the outstanding men and women in the bible, He knows exactly what he's gotta do, he knows exactly when he's gotta do it, and he knows exactly what he's gonna say because he has been sent by his heavenly father. And he is working according to that time frame. And so whatever the surface reason that cannot lay hands on him.
Be interested to know what the what the sort of practical reason was they couldn't seize him. This is the underlying reason. Because the hour of his suffering, his death, his resurrection, and his ascension to glory has not yet come. He is protected until he chooses not to be. He is free until he puts himself in chains.
And he has set his face to the cross, and he will not depart from it and will not be taken from it until he says it is finished on that first good Friday. Into this massive confusion where people think they can control everything about Jesus. He knows firstly where he's from, and secondly, he knows exactly what he's doing. The thirdly, he also knows where he's going. He knows where he's going.
Have a look at verse 33 to 34, and we see confusion is still raining. I am with you for only a short time, and then I am going to the 1 who sent me. You will look for me, but you will not find me. And where I am, you cannot come. The Jews said to 1 another, where does this man intend to go that we cannot find him?
Will he go where our people live, scattered among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks? What did he mean when he said, you will look for me, but you will not find me. And where I am, you cannot come. And, you know, once again, There's a sense in which they look like harmless questions these. You know, where's he gonna go?
What's he talking about? Is he sure we won't be to follow, is he going to the people dispersed? Will he even teach the gentiles to these are fairly harmless innocuous sort of questions, aren't they? And yet, there is a there is still a theological opposition to Jesus even in these questions. There is some hostility that is underneath them.
And I think you see it in the phrase and teach the Greeks. Is that what he's gonna do? Is that what this Messiah is gonna do? He's gonna go to our people scattered. Will he even teach God's things among the gentiles, would he be so bold to blaspheme the law of Moses and try and pull down the wall of separation between us?
Is that what he's gonna do? Gonna rip the veil, tear down the curtain. Gonna try and bring the gentiles into the Jews. Is that what he's gonna do? There's hostility.
There's theological opposition in these questions. And the answer to that is both yes and no. In 6 months time from this moment, Jesus is gonna be on a cross. He will be crucified, buried. He will be raised on the third day, and he will go back to be with his father.
And so in a physical sense, in the flesh, no, he will not be going out to teach the Greeks. He will be going back to be with his father to share the glory which he has before the foundation of the world. That's where he's gonna go. He's come from the father to do the father's work, and he will return to the father. So in the flesh, no.
But in another sense, that's exactly where he's gonna go. That is where he's going to go in the power of his spirit, which he will pour out upon his apostles who will go exactly to the gentiles. He will go by his spirit to teach them the things of the father. And verse 37 to verse 38, I think, just brings a lot of light on that. Now in 1 sense, it's interesting, because time has moved on, and this seems to be a separate conversation, and yet Jesus kind of answers their questions there.
And this Chris is gonna be opening up this up next week. So I'm gonna try not to, you know, take 2 I'm only gonna try and dip my toe in it rather than really opening it up. But verse 37, on the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them. By this, he meant the spirit whom those who believed in him were later to receive.
Up to that time, the spirit had not been given since Jesus had not yet been glorified. Now Jesus isn't denying there that the Holy Spirit was already present and active in the world. You remember John chapter 3 when he's talking to nicodemus, And he says to nicodemus, you must be born again, and you must be born of the spirit. And Jesus is surprised that nicodemus doesn't already know that. Know, nicodemus as a teacher should know that that people need to be born of the spirit.
The spirit needs to make people alive. So the holy spirit has been active. But what he's saying here is that the time for this new age of the spirit has not yet come. This time in which the Holy Spirit will be poured out on all of God's people to equip them to take the gospel to the ends of the edge as not yet come, but it will when he's been glorified. And so all of this, you see, is gonna be the fruit of his hour.
Jesus is gonna die on a cross for the sins of all his people, all over the world, for all who would trust in him, he is going to win the nations through his suffering. And so the answer is no. He won't be going to the Greeks physically, but, yes, he will be going by his spirit. To gather in his sheep from all over the world. And what he says to these crowds is And look, for as long as you remain in unbelief, you will have no part in that story.
You will have no part in my hour, no part with my father, no part in this mission. But if you will repent of your sin, And if you will come and drink from me, the Christ who can give you living, saving waters, then you can be part of all of this. You could be part of my father, and part of his glory, and part of salvation, and part of this mission. And I think this is what he's doing in verse 37 to 39. It's as if for a moment, Jesus is gonna lay aside the debate.
He's just gonna lay he's just gonna lay aside all the confusion lay aside all the arguments, and he's gonna raise his voice and say to everybody listening, to those who are confused, to those of you who are angry, to all in unbelief. If you will come, then you will live. And you will be part of this great story. And so you see, into all of this confusion, we have a Jesus who knows where he's from. 1 who knows what he's doing, and 1 who knows exactly where he's going.
3 points of application for us to think about. Firstly, let's think about the nature of unbelief in this passage, the nature of unbelief. And I think what we see here with these crowds is that when we don't listen to Jesus, we have wrong expectations of Jesus. When we don't take the time to actually listen to what he says about himself, we have wrong expectations of him. That's what these leaders wanted.
They wanted a Christ that they could control. They wanted 1 where they had his birth certificate. They knew where he's from. They knew his heritage. They wanted a Christ who wouldn't go to the gentiles unless they gave him the permission to do though.
They wanted 1 they could track. You know, some people have their spouses on those trackers, those GPS devices so they can see whether they're in McDonald's or whether they're at home or wherever they are. They wanted a Christ to be controlled in that way, but Jesus comes on his own terms with his own plan. And he is about his own hour, and they don't like it. And so he says to them, yes, there is a sense in which you know me But there is another sense in which you know nothing about me.
And your main problem is the Christ that you want is not the Christ that you need, and it's not the Christ that there actually is. The 1 that you need is this sovereign life giving god from the father, dying, suffering, triumphant, savior. The 1 that you want is 1 that you can control. And that is surest way into unbelief. And maybe that's a good word for us here if you've only been a Christian for for a couple of years.
Just started out maybe on the Christian life. It's worth knowing from passages like this that if we start off with an agenda for Jesus, where we've got this expectation that he will say the things we want him to say, he would do the things that we want him to do he will deliver what we want him to deliver, that he will work by our schedule. If that's our expectation of him, then we will grow disillusioned and angry and unbelieving. And the problem is that we just don't listen. If we just don't listen to him, we will have these wrong expectations.
And what he's doing here is inviting us to come out of unbelief and listen to him when he speaks about himself. And so if you're here and you're feeling, confused about your faith. If you're feeling disappointed with the way your Christian life is turning out, if you're feeling distant from god, even a little irritated, that life isn't going as you think he should be giving it. And it's worth asking this diagnostic question as an Is it is it unbelief? Is it wrong expectations that have led me to this to this place?
Secondly, there's a sweet comfort here in the sovereignty of God. I think what we learn here and all over the place in John is that nothing that that everything that happens is under god's sovereign hand, that nothing can happen in this world without his permission, and that should be a sweet comfort to us. He's sovereign over his suffering, his coming, his glorification, his sovereign over every detail in our lives. I mean, it's wonderful, isn't it hearing the about these unreached people groups of the world? And just to pray to God knowing that he is sovereign over all the people groups of the world, and he is sovereign over the progress of the gospel And praise god that John is the gospel that they've got 1 of them.
Maybe they're even brothers and sisters, they're reading this very chapter. Tonight and taking comfort in the sovereignty of Jesus Christ. That is a great comfort to us here. And thirdly, lastly, to any who who don't believe in Christ. If you're here and you wouldn't call yourself a Christian, perhaps you think you are.
But as you've been listening to these sermons, you've realized haven't actually been born again. Well, the last words that Jesus speaks to the Jews here are you cannot, you know, you cannot come. You cannot come. But the invitation to us is that if we will turn from our sin and believe in this savior, we can hear an altogether different set of words. Here's what Jesus says to his disciples, and just note the similarities here.
In John 14. My father's house has many rooms. If that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may may be where I am. Isn't that wonderful?
You cannot come versus that, that the lord Jesus Christ will go to the cross, and he will prepare all of his people for glory. Then he will go back and prepare a place for them. And then when the time is right, he will come and get them. He says to those who remain in unbelief, you cannot come. He says to those who trust him, I'm going home to prepare a place for you, and then I'm gonna take you so that you can come.
And if you're not a believer here, that's an invitation extended to you. So let's bow our heads, and let's take a moment to pray. You can think about the nature of unbelief in this passage. You can think about the the comfort of God's sovereignty. You can think about where you stand with this savior and and I'll close this in prayer.
Lord, Jesus, we thank you that in this passage, full of unbelief and confusion. That your crystal clear voice rings out that you know where you are from, that you had come from your heavenly father that you had left the glory, which you shared with your father before the world began, to come into this world to suffer and die and win your children from all across the nations. We thank you, lord Jesus, that you were sovereign over every aspect of your life on earth over your suffering and your speaking and your teaching, everything, not 1 thing was out of your control. And we thank you that now reigning in heaven, you remain the sovereign lord overall. And lord, we pray that you would us not to be guilty of the unbelief that we see in this chapter, not to have a Jesus that we want.
Which is, in fact, not the 1 that there is. We pray that you would help us to take you at your word and to trust in you we pray and not to try and justify whatever unbelief remains in our hearts, but to humbly submit ourselves to you our Lord and Savior. Then we ask that in Jesus' name, amen.