Christ’s clarity in a confused world – Part 2

“The officers answered, ‘No man ever spoke like this Man!’ ” John 7:46

When the Lord Jesus Christ spoke to people in the temple on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, those listening to Him were confused. Not because Jesus was unclear, but because their hearts were unprepared. After Jesus had promised that those who believe in Him would have rivers of living water flow out of their hearts (John 7:38), we read, “Therefore many from the crowd, when they heard this saying, said, ‘Truly this is the Prophet.’ ” (John 7:40). These people were impressed with Jesus’ words and concluded that “truly this is the Prophet” whom Moses had promised in Deuteronomy 18:15-18.

“Others said, ‘This is the Christ.’ ” (John 7:41a). These people dared to go further and said Jesus was the promised Messiah. But a third group objected to this. “But some said, ‘Will the Christ come out of Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?’ ” (John 7:41b-42). “Jesus cannot be the Messiah because He came from Galilee, but the Scripture tells us the Christ will be from the lineage of David from the town Bethlehem.” This group had overlooked the facts about Christ as many opponents to Christianity do today. 43 So there was a division among the people because of Him. 44 Now some of them wanted to take Him, but no one laid hands on Him.” (John 7:43-44). Divided opinion about Christ postponed Jesus’ arrest. No one touched Him because it was not the Father’s time for His Son to be crucified.

45 Then the officers came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, ‘Why have you not brought Him?’ 46 The officers answered, ‘No man ever spoke like this Man!’ ” (John 7:45-46). Can you imagine how these religious leaders felt when the very officers whom they sent out to arrest Jesus returned, having been arrested by Christ? “Where is He?” the priests demanded. “You knew where He was. Why didn’t you bring Him?” We can almost hear the response of the officers, “Well, it is hard to tell exactly what happened, but as we were listening to Him He somehow got through to us. We became so wrapped up in what He was saying we forgot what we set out to do. We must say that we have never heard anybody speak like this man. Jesus is the best Teacher ever!”

Let me ask you, do you know Jesus in this way? Do you get so caught up in His words that you forget what you are supposed to be doing? Do you think through what He is saying to you? Have you found yourself arrested by the One whom men sought to arrest?

“Then the Pharisees answered them, ‘Are you also deceived?’ ” (John 7:47). “You haven’t let Him deceive you, too, have you?” Do you hear the anger and contempt in those words? “Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed in Him?” (John 7:48). Their question expects a negative answer and reflects their pride. “No one who is spiritual or intelligent (like us) would believe in Jesus!” These religious leaders assumed no one could be right except themselves. If they didn’t believe in Jesus, then He must be a fraud. “But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.” (John 7:49). The leaders are saying those in the crowd who believe in Jesus are too ignorant to realize that Jesus was a deceiver. “No one with any intelligence would believe in Christ.” Sometimes people become too educated to come to Christ. They have intellectual barriers that keep them from seeing who Jesus really is.

The religious leaders had denied that any important leaders had come to Christ and immediately Nicodemus, who came to Jesus by night (John 3:1), speaks up. 50 Nicodemus (he who came to Jesus by night, being one of them) said to them, 51 ‘Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?’ ” (John 7:50-51). The leaders said the crowd was ignorant of the Law and Nicodemus points to their ignorance of the Law. He is saying that it is unfair to condemn Jesus before hearing His side of the case. Now this is a very courageous act on Nicodemus’ part. We see that Nicodemus is starting to confess Christ and make his relationship with Jesus known to others in the midst of a hostile crowd.

The leaders respond sarcastically. “They answered and said to him, “Are you also from Galilee? Search and look, for no prophet has arisen out of Galilee.” (John 7:52). They thought only someone from Galilee could be sympathetic with Christ. Their anger toward Jesus blinded them to the fact that other prophets had come from Galilee including Jonah. But what strikes me the most about the various crowd responses is Nicodemus’ courage which says, “I will speak up for Jesus no matter what!” Jesus had given Nicodemus eternal life back in John 3. And now Nicodemus is starting to speak up for the Lord.

Do you know Jesus in this way? Are you willing to stand up for Christ in the face of opposition? May God empower all of us to speak up for Jesus in the midst of a confused and hostile world. From this study we learn that the best way to overcome confusion is to abide in the TRUTH. The less time we spend in God’s Word, the more confused we will become in our world today. But focus on God’s Word, and the fog of confusion will disappear.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I thank You for Your clarity in the midst of a confused world. Your Word is what causes me to forget what I was going to do or say because it captivates my thoughts and breathes new life into my soul. Thank You for giving me perfect peace when nothing else on this planet will. Please grant me the courage to speak up for You when no one else will. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Where to turn when we are weak and afraid

“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them: for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

To prepare the new generation of Israelites to enter the Promised Land, Moses presented Joshua to the nation as God’s chosen leader who would take over the leadership of Israel very soon (Deut. 31:1-5). He charged the people to “be strong and of good courage” and to “not fear nor be afraid of” the pagan nations who inhabited the Promised Land (31:6a). Why? “For the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you ” (31:6b). Israel’s strength and courage was based upon God’s continual presence, promises, and power in their lives.

Where do we look for strength when we are weak? Where do we turn when we are overwhelmed with fear? Today’s verse encourages us to look to “the One who goes with” us. God is always with us even though we may not believe or feel His presence at times, especially when we are overwhelmed with our enemies (i.e. Satan, the world, and our own sinful flesh).  Just because others have abandoned us or rejected us does not mean God is like them. He promises never to abandon  (“leave”) us or reject (“forsake”) us. And He never breaks His promises because He cannot lie (cf. Titus 1:2). The Lord has an endless supply of strength and courage to give us in our time of need.

It may be difficult for us to admit when we are weak and afraid, but God already knows this about us. It does not take Him by surprise. So let’s lower our guard and let our good good Father comfort and strengthen us with His unwavering presence and promises. Remember, 1 + God = a majority so there is no reason to be afraid or overwhelmed by the battles we face.

“The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 118:6). The Psalmist reminds us thatGod watches our back when we are doing His work. Since no one is more powerful than God, we don’t have to be afraid of what people think or do. For example, in between my second and third year of seminary, I had an evangelism internship in the inner city of Dallas, Texas. I would go house to house or apartment to apartment sharing the gospel with pimps, prostitutes, drug dealers, and addicts. Knowing that my heavenly Father was on my side and would not abandon me, emboldened me to go to some “shady” places. God was faithful to give me the strength and courage needed to share His gospel message with whomever would listen.Prayer: Abba Father, I can be strong (not weak) and courageous (not afraid) in the presence of my enemies because You are always with me and will never abandon me nor reject me. Please lead me to victory over my enemies so the world may know that You alone are God and are worthy of all praise! My hope is in You and Your unfailing presence in my life. I pray Your Spirit will renew my mind with the truth that says one plus God is always a majority. With You in my life, I can never be outnumbered by my enemies. Therefore, there is no need to be afraid. In Jesus’ name. Amen.