Reframing The Law | John 7:1-24
Topic: Gospel Passage: John 7:1–7:24
Introduction | Where do we look for right judgement?
Good Morning Welcome to Damascus Road where we are Saved by Jesus Work, Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission. Today we are continuing our series REFRAMING JESUS: Portraits of Glory from John’s Gospel. In Reframing Jesus, our desire isn’t to reinvent Jesus into someone He is not or make Jesus into an image we are more comfortable with. Instead, we seek to have our portrait of Jesus reframed by John’s Gospel to see Him as accurately and glorious as possible.
What standard do we judge…. What standard do we judge what we see in the world when there are great injustices or there is wrong or evil? How can we call something evil and something else good? We have to possess some standard, some rubric. What standard do we judge others? Oh I don’t judge others I let everyone else do their own thing. Not true… Get cut off on the freeway.. Judgement. Get hurt in a relationship, judgement. We all Judge. How do we evaluate ourselves in how we’re navigating life? How do we reconcile when there are competing standards, laws, rules, principals, that may be all good when they start to intersect with one another? When we rate ourselves we typically have one of two ditches (even in the church or Christian circles) I am nailing it because I have set the standard and I have chosen how I will be judged and I just happen to be great at all the things I have found to be most important. OR I have sent an impossible standard that no one else expects of me, (though I might expect it of them) and I am constantly letting myself down (conversely everyone else is letting me down too). I am a saint who can do no wrong, I am a sinner who can do no right. We can vacillate between ditches. This happens culturally when we have a society that his highly legalistic institutional and uniform culture, like Victorian England or maybe a caricature of the more puritan 1950’s, with spoken and unspoken standards about what “polite society” should look like to where we find ourselves today with a culture that values individualism to the extreme to the point that basically everyone does what is right in their own eyes. We would never say it like that but essentially, we become people who our emotions rule all. The only standard that matters is “what do I feel”. If I feel hurt than someone else did something to hurt me. If I feel good than it must be right. We then apply this law of feelings to everything else we see and experience. Even our concept of God, who He is (I don’t like the way He makes me feel), what He’s done, and who we are and how He has worked, is working for His glory and our joy. If we let ourselves be ruled by our feelings we are at the mercy of how fickle we are as individuals and we place ourselves in the center of the universe. Our hearts and perspective relating outside of ourselves will always be warped and we’ll cause ourselves and others pain. We need to be anchored in a standard, will, purpose that is bigger than ourselves, or others, and root ourselves in the will, purpose, “law” of God who sees all rightly. In Jesus we are Reframing the Law.
PART I | Reframing our Expectations | John 7:1-9
John 7:1-9 |1After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He would not go about in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill him. 2 Now the Jews' Feast of Booths was at hand. 3 So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples also may see the works you are doing. 4 For no one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” 5 For not even his brothers believed in him. 6 Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. 7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil. 8 You go up to the feast. I am not going up to this feast, for my time has not yet fully come.” 9 After saying this, he remained in Galilee.
We are now six months removed from Jesus miracle of feeding 20k needy people in the wilderness and then walking on the sea in Galilee. A moment that should have led to exponential growth and influence of his ministry instead has been losing some public momentum. Why? He let crowds know that he’s so much more than the provision of bread or the political leader they desire. They have expectations for what they want a savior to look like and do and they didn’t like the way it felt to be told it’s going to be different. Jesus didn’t meet their standard for what a good savior should do. But there is more opposition. You have religious leaders who have God’s law (true) but have heaped on generations worth of extra legalism thinking that it somehow improves what God has declared. They have expectations of what a savior looks like and they have judged that Jesus doesn’t meet it either. For the shrinking crowds there is apathy disappointment for the leader there is anger and destruction plotted for Jesus. It’s in this backdrop that greatest festival of the year for the Jewish people is at hand with great expectations for participation.
The Feast of Booth/Tabernacles is the biggest and most popular of the year. It was to remember God’s provision to His people in the wilderness and it was a feast of thanksgiving in the late fall. It was a time of Joy. You have grape, fruit, and olive crops. Whole villages will completely shut down, people from all over the known world will come to Jerusalem to celebrate God leading them through the wilderness and providing for them for another year. Jesus siblings haven been doubting and questioning His ministry, with a few months of less perceived influence they have all their ideas about how Jesus can make an impact in the world. IF he really is who he says he is. This festival a perfect opportunity for Jesus to make a big impact, gain some momentum again and really make some progress in helping people. This is our way, our agenda.
We all have an agenda for Jesus. This agenda reveals as much about them (us) as anything. “If I was you, Jesus here’s what I would do. I would find the biggest crowd possible and make the biggest spectacle possible. Then people will believe and follow you.” From a marketing stand point it makes perfect sense. Hey Jesus by a commercial spot during the Super Bowl and do a miracle in your ad and people will believe. Then maybe people won’t think our brother is so crazy. They have a standard on how they judge the validity and effectiveness of Jesus mission and ministry, it needs to be big, public, with signs and wonders. If you want to have an impact in the world it has to look a certain way. We are not much different. We all have expectations of how we want Jesus to work or expect him to work. We believe Jesus can best work in big high profile and public ways. We think we know best how God should work in the world. We know people are impressed by what they can see so demonstrate who you are (if you are who you claim to be) When we believe God should work in a specific way that we prescribe we are walking in a place of doubt that God can work in any other way. Here is the problem (You’re not high profile enough) you work in secret or obscurity, that’s not going to work if you want to be known by more people. Prove who you are to others, do something amazing in their lives, do something big in the world. Really what we’re asking is for God to prove to us who He is and how He works so we can judge if He is worth of following. What is your agenda for God? How have you decided God needs to work in order for you to judge that God’s will is done?
Jesus reveals a tension point.There is a world opposed to God. You’re a part of it (I’m a part of it) so you don’t “feel it” because we’re unified in our disbelief and doubt. The world, in sin, has attempted to stand in Judgement over God, based on our feelings, our desires, and we’ve said God is not good we are good. God’s law is not life but is death. Jesus know this conflict is raging and some of the most aggressive about the conflict aren’t the self-indulgent pagans, but are the self-righteous religious types. Jesus sibling can go into the festival at any time and there won’t be an issue. But If/when Jesus arrives there will be conflict with the religious leaders who are more impressed with their ability to follow God’s law (with a whole bunch of Man’s law piled on top) than with one who comes with God’s power and authority. The reason there is a conflict is because the world Hates that God’s law and judgement reveal our true condition. For the self-indulgent it says there is a law and standard greater than your feelings there is consequences for sin even if you don’t think you have sin, for the self-righteous you also think the law of God is too small because you’re so convinced you can achieve it. Either way we think God somehow got it wrong because we know better than He does.We Judge God, we are not to judge God, God’s standard is higher than ours. Jesus comes and says no one is sinless, all need salvation, all need forgiveness that can only come from God. So Jesus won’t be making a grand entrance into Jerusalem this time, but he does say he’s not going… yet.
PART II |Reframing the debate about Jesus |John 7:10-13
John 7:10-13 |10 But after his brothers had gone up to the feast, then he also went up, not publicly but in private. 11 The Jews were looking for him at the feast, and saying, “Where is he?” 12 And there was much muttering about him among the people. While some said, “He is a good man,” others said, “No, he is leading the people astray.” 13 Yet for fear of the Jews no one spoke openly of him.
Jesus does come to the festival but later, when there would be less attention. Jesus not engaging or showing up the way we want to doesn’t mean he’s not present or active. There is so much happening at the festival around Jesus that is not out in the open in big bold ways but is under the surface, subtle but still significant. There is a tension around who Jesus is. Everyone has a judgement about who Jesus is. The Religious leaders, already made up their minds with their murderous intent that Jesus is a danger, He’s not good he’s a threat and they’re willing to violate the law/standard they claim to follow to have him killed.CS Lewis famously said Jesus is either a liar, lunatic, or He’s Lord, I’d add in “less than God”, and we see each of these options laid out in this text. There is a private wrestling among the people around who Jesus is and what he is there to accomplish. But even the tension is less than fully able to show who Jesus really is.He’s a good teacher, a good man. Ok…. That’s a start. But that doesn’t go far enough. The reason the religious people are angry is because Jesus is clear he’s equal to (IS) God. So good guy, good teacher, is not good enough to judge Jesus rightly. Others say he’s not god, he’s not good. No he’s a liar. He’s either self-deceived or he’s willingly deceiving others either way it’s not profitable. This was all under the surface. The city is debating who Jesus is but not publicly.I believe there is a great wrestling under the surface of most people when they have enough quiet in their lives and souls to actually have moments to questions who they are, who God is, what standard will they be Judged by, how have they viewed the world. This is a good wrestling to have because we should not be settled with rubric of our own making. But this unsettledness should lead us to desire an answer to the question “what is true?” “Who am I?” “Who is God, what is His will” all of these questions come under and are tied the question “Who is Jesus?”Who do you say Jesus is? It’s a question that has to be answered and answered rightly. Because if he’s not the Son of God, the creator, the savior king of God’s people, than he’s not worth listening to. In fact, you should run from Him. I mean if the local leaders don’t like him, and his own family doubts him than is He worth following (wait, his siblings did believe later…. After a pretty big sign. His death and Resurrection). Can’t we just remain sorta neutral or vague?Uncertainty around who Jesus is leads to us clinging to something else and measure the world with a standard to Judge by. We’ll search out something, likely ourselves to use as our primary way of judging ourselves, others, and the world. We need something real and true to hold onto. But the reality is more than something to hold on to we need someone to hold on to us.
PART III | Reframing Clarity |John 7:14-24
John 7:14-24 | 14 About the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and began teaching. 15 The Jews therefore marveled, saying, “How is it that this man has learning, when he has never studied?” 16 So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. 17 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. 18 The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood. 19 Has not Moses given you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why do you seek to kill me?” 20 The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who is seeking to kill you?”21 Jesus answered them, “I did one work, and you all marvel at it. 22 Moses gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. 23 If on the Sabbath a man receives circumcision, so that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because on the Sabbath I made a man's whole body well? 24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”
Jesus starts in subtly in obscurity under the surface, but He does reveal himself publicly. Jesus has heard the debates, he knows the opposition and He is gracious to not let people guess who He claims to be or what He’s here to do. Jesus reveals himself not with great signs and wonders like his brothers wanted him to do, but instead he teaches about His identity, His Authority, the nature of God’s will and the Law. All of this is for the express purpose of bringing clarity. Around the law, around who He is. Around what the standard and purpose of the law is. Jesus doesn’t meet the religious leaders standards because He hasn’t been learning from or submitted to them. But Jesus doesn’t appeal to human tradition or religious pedigree. But God’s will. Where is all of Jesus teaching coming from? God the Father!His teaching is perfectly in line with God’s will. “If you’re in line with God’s will you’ll follow me” Another way to say that is if you want to know if you’re following God’s will, ask yourself “Are you following Jesus?”
God’s law is God’s will,Psalm 40:8 I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.”
We’ve been given the law (Mount Sinai) Law reveals we are always seeking our own glory, we don’t seek to glorify God but ourselves, we don’t seek God’s will but our own. We were made to reflect the Glory of God, this is not less than purpose than when we seek our glory it is a greater purpose because God IS exponentially more glorious than we will ever be. When we seek our own law, or our own righteousness, our own will, we’re settling for less that we are intended for. So we have the law, yet we don’t keep it! Because we can’t (back to the garden, sin traded one law for our own glory) We’ve been given the law but the law is not the answer. We struggle with this because we overestimate our own ability to carry out the law. Even when Jesus simplifies it to love God and love people, we think “I can do that! And I am sure they cannot or are not.” We become sin and fault finders searching for error in everyone and everything. Guess what you’ll find it! We who are religious don’t have as much purity as we think. We can so easily focus on our own self-righteousness and religion that we forget we’ve all failed to keep the law. We settle for outward displays of faithfulness and religious activity thinking the law is what will perfect us.
Circumcision is an external mark of religion. We forget the whole point and purpose of God for His people. He knows we have sin and it needs to be dealt with. He knows we have shame and separation and it needs to be reconciled. He knows we are destined for death and just wrath and we need mercy and life.If the answer for our sin is the law then we don’t need a savior.We can just do it on our own. Be we can’t, we need a savior. Jesus come to fulfill the law and to fully heal us. Jesus heals us in response to our need. We shouldn’t settle for just outward marks of religion, but the inward healing of a soul made right with the God who created it. Jesus doesn’t ever have mixed motives. His glory and our joy are tied together because He knows we will have the most joy when we are inline with God’s purposes for our lives.Jesus teaching is both true…. Meaning reliable and there is no falsehood. Jesus perfectly fulfills both the law and our purpose. Only Jesus has perfectly Loves God and Loves people.Only Jesus displays the glory of God.
- The Law = Condemnation and despair because we know we’ve failed to fulfill it perfectly.
- The Gospel = Reconciliation and worship because Jesus has succeed for us in our place!
The Law is not the Gospel the Law reveals our need for the Gospel. We need the discernment to know the law doesn’t heal but we can only be healed by Jesus who has fulfilled the Law perfectly. Jesus reminds them purpose of God for sinners is healing and reconciliation. Jesus mission is one of comprehensive healing for sinners who are in as much need for healing as the man who was paralyzed for 38 years.So we need to discern and Judge where healing can be found.
While there is great misunderstanding from the crowd and great hostility to Jesus from those who are self-righteous, we are called to respond with Great humility.They respond with you must be demon possessed you’re a lunatic! They judge by appearances and Jesus doesn’t met their expectations. Jesus’ siblings wanted him to perform a great sign so people would know He is who he says He is and can truly bring forgiveness of sin and healing of our souls. The leaders still want him dead. So while the conflict is at a clear tension point it is not at the turning point. The conflicts are out in the open they’ve been revealed but not reconciled. All these conflicts come to head 6 months later at Passover when Jesus will do a great sign during a large religious festival. The religious who want to see him killed get their desire, Jesus is crucified, in this, Jesus is the sacrifice for our sin, He takes our just punishment for our sin and says “It is finished.”
Jesus rises again, the tomb is empty, He is a live ascended to heaven, and promises His return so we can have great clarity and confidence that Jesus is who He says He is. He’s not a liar, or lunatic, He is Lord. And he is where forgiveness, healing, and reconciliation (at the deep heart level) are found.We can rest knowing the law is finished for us, and God’s Judgement of us is removed and replaced with righteousness when we Trust Jesus.