The GalileanRev. Philip Miller | January 17, 2021
Selected highlights from this sermon
The most interesting people tend to have both consistency and creativity wedded together in their personalities. They’re stable and dependable, while at the same time being inventive and adventurous. And as Pastor Miller takes us through John 7, he shows us that this dynamic pairing of consistency and creativity is embodied by Jesus. He is trustworthy and true. We can depend on Him. And yet, He’s always surprising us and doing the unexpected.
What will we do with this Jesus?
I’ve noticed that the people I most enjoy being around in life have a couple traits in common. They are both consistent and creative. Now, at first those traits may seem like they are at odds with one another. You know consistency is all about routine and stability and sameness. You know exactly what you’re getting. Right? And creativity is quite the opposite. It’s about freshness and newness and innovation, and you never quite know what to expect. But it is the pairing of these seemingly opposite traits that makes people so enjoyable.
Imagine for a moment one without the other. Imagine someone who is incredibly consistent but not creative. They would be dependable and stable and predictable, but frankly terribly boring. Right? On the other hand, if they were just creative and not consistent you’d have someone who is adventurous and inventive and dynamic, but would be wildly erratic. You would never know what you were getting. But when consistency and creativity are wed together, you have a stable dependency. You know what you can expect, and yet there’s a dynamic adventurousness. You know you are in for the unexpected. And this pairing of traits is, I think, one of the reasons I enjoy Jesus so much. He embodies this paradox. He is trustworthy and true. You can count on Him. You can depend on Him. He’s fully consistent. He always acts like Himself, and He’s always surprising us. He’s inventive and unbounded. He’s always doing the unexpected.
It reminds me of the words of Mr. Beaver in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobeas C. S. Lewis tells us, describes through Mr. Beaver’s words, Aslan, the lion, the great king, the Christ figure in the story. Mr. Beaver says this: “Aslan is a lion–the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh!” said Susan, “I’d thought he was a man. Is he–quite safe?”...“Safe?” Mr. Beaver said. “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the king, I tell you. He’s wild, you know. He’s not like a tame lion.’”
You see the paradox there? Wild, unfettered, boundless, free, untamed. But good, trustworthy, and true. Consistent and creative. Not safe–but good, or as Dorothy Sayers once put it, “The people who hanged Christ never, to do them justice, accused him of being a bore–on the contrary, they thought him too dynamic to be safe. It has been left for later generations to muffle up that shattering personality and surround him with an atmosphere of tedium. We have efficiently pared the claws of the Lion of Judah, certified him “meek and mild” and recommended him as a fitting household pet for pale curates and pious old ladies.” “He’s wild, you know. He’s not like a tame lion.” And it is this Jesus, this untamed and yet good, this consistent and yet creative Jesus that we meet today in John, chapter 7.
We’re going to be looking at the whole chapter today, verses 1 all the way down to 52, and I’d like to show you six unexpected glimpses of our Jesus, six unexpected glimpses of Jesus today.
Let’s grab our Bibles, open them up, and I’d like to pray for us as we get started.
Heavenly Father, we pray that you would show us Jesus in all of His splendor and might, His unbounded freedom, and in His goodness and consistency, the strength and durability of His character. He is both creative and consistent. Help us see that today. In Jesus’ name, Amen. Amen.
The first unexpected glimpse of Jesus is the unexpected timing that we see here at the beginning of the chapter. John 7:1: “After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He would not go about in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill him. Now the Jews’ Feast of Booths was at hand.”
Now immediately, to get our bearings here, we notice that six months have passed from the previous chapter. You’ll remember with the feeding of the five thousand and the bread of life discourse that we saw last week, that those events occurred around Passover, which is late March, early April. It is now the Feast of Booths, or Feast of Tabernacles, which coincides with the harvest of grapes and olives that takes place in September or October. So this has been about six months from the last chapter. It is also about six months until Jesus will be crucified at the following Passover in the next year in the spring. So that gives us a sense of where we’re at.
The Feast of Booths and Tabernacles (or Sukkot as we know it) was a seven-day feast in which the Jewish people built these makeshift structures out of branches and leaves, little tents if you will, and they lived in them for the duration of the week. This wasn’t just to save on hotel expenses. It was to commemorate their journey from Egypt to the Promised Land where they lived in tabernacles in the wilderness. This feast was a celebration of God’s guidance as He led them through the wilderness, a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night. It was a celebration of the provision of God as He provided manna from heaven, bread from heaven and water from the rock for the people of Israel. It was a celebration of God’s faithfulness in bringing fullness and completion, harvest, if you will. He brought the people of God to the Promised Land, a land of plenty that was full of many things, including grapes and olives. This is one of the three big pilgrimage feasts, and so people came from all around to celebrate in Jerusalem.
Now, John tells us here [that] for the last few months, Jesus has been staying up north in Galilee. He’s been avoiding the south and Judea because the religious leaders are after Him. You’ll recall that the very last time John mentions that Jesus was in Jerusalem was back in chapter 5 when Jesus healed the man who was laying for 38 years on the mat, and He told him to get up and walk. And the religious leaders got all upset at Him because it was the Sabbath, and He had healed on the Sabbath and told the man to carry his mat on the Sabbath. That section concludes as John is narrating in chapter 5, verse 18, with these words: “This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.” You’ll remember that the logic Jesus used to defend His actions was that the Father works on the Sabbath and so can He. And they said, “You’re making yourself out to be God.” So this is why Jesus has been staying in Galilee for this period of time and keeping His distance.
In verse 3 it picks up: “So his brothers said to him, ‘Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples also may see the works you are doing. For no one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.’ For not even his brothers believed in him.”
So here’s the situation. (chuckles) Jesus’ own brothers don’t believe in Him at this point. They will, eventually, after the resurrection, after Jesus appears to at least one of them, but at this point, they don’t believe Jesus is Messiah or the Christ. They’ve heard the rumors, of course. They’ve heard rumors of miracles and healings, that He can multiply bread and fish, but they’re really not on board at this point. They say, “Listen, if you’re such a big shot, Jesus, why don’t you go public with this? Why don’t you go show yourself to the world? What better time than now, at the big feast in Jerusalem? This is a perfect moment for your big reveal, you know.” And of course, their mockery is thinly veiled, isn’t it?
Verse 6: “Jesus said to them, ‘My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil. You go up to the feast. I am not going up to this feast, for my time has not yet fully come.’ After saying this, he remained in Galilee. But after his brothers had gone up to the feast, then he also went up, not publicly but in private.”
So basically Jesus says, “Look, you go. I’ll stay here. My time is not fully come.” Now, what’s interesting is this phrase, “My time has not fully come.” It’s very similar to another phrase that we see throughout the book of John, which is, “My hour has not yet come.” “The hour,” whenever John uses that phrase, it’s about the hour of Jesus’ glorious death that’s approaching. We see it down in verse 30 in this passage (We’ll get to it) when it says, “No one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come.” “Hour” in Greek is “hora.” And while the phrasing here is similar, the word is different. Hour is hora. The word here is “kairos” for “time.” “My time has not yet come.” Not my hour, but my time. And kairos, whenever it’s used, has the idea of an opportune moment, like timing the stock market, or something like that. “The time is right,” that kind of an idea. It’s an opportune moment.
So when Jesus is saying this, He’s not referring to the phrase we’re used to, “My hour has not yet come,” which refers to His death, but He’s saying, “This is not my opportune moment. Right now is not the opportune moment. Brothers, you think this is the moment for the big reveal, but you’re wrong. It’s not now. It’s not here yet. You go on ahead. My opportune moment has not yet come.” And so off the brothers go, and after waiting awhile, Jesus heads off quietly and He keeps things on the down-low.
Verse 11: “The Jews were looking for him at the feast, and saying, ‘Where is he?’ 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.’ Yet for fear of the Jews no one spoke openly of him.”
So here everybody is in Jerusalem. They’re talking about Him. They’re looking for Him. He’s the talk of the town and Jesus is keeping a low profile. He slips in incognito. He conceals Himself until just the right moment. He’s awaiting the Father’s timing here. And here’s the first thing we see, that Jesus is operating on His Father’s timetable. You know, six months ago, the Galileans wanted to make Him king. Remember that? And He went quietly off on His own. And then He gave all that hard teaching, and everybody left Him.
And then His brothers here are egging Him on. “Go prove yourself. Make something of yourself.” And He quietly bides His time. Why does He do all of this? Well, friends, Jesus isn’t interested in riding a wave of momentum or popularity. He’s not trying to prove anything about Himself to anybody. He’s here to do the Father’s bidding, and He is pacing the unfolding of these events in order to time everything according to the Father’s plan. And so Jesus shows up unexpectedly late to this feast, but Jesus is never late, nor is He early. He arrives precisely when He means to.
So the second unexpected thing we see here is the unexpected intentions of Jesus. Verse 14: “About the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and began teaching. The Jews therefore marveled, saying, ‘How is it that this man has learning, when he has never studied?’” See, the rabbis studied for many, many years at the hands of their masters, under their teaching. But Jesus has never had formal training. He has never been to Bible school of seminary. How is it possible that He knows so much, that He commands the crowd’s attention?
“So (in verse 16) Jesus answered them, ‘My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me.’” See, the younger rabbis in particular would quote extensively from their rabbis who had more credibility in the tradition. And that’s basically the move that Jesus is making here. He says, “Listen, I’m not just teaching on my own. This teaching comes from a tradition. There’s credibility to what I’m saying, and it’s the highest possible credibility. My teaching (Jesus’ teaching) is from the Father. You want to know where I went to school? You want to know where I got my training? God the Father Himself taught me what I know. That’s where my teaching comes from, and you can trust my teaching. And not only that, you can trust my motives.”
Verse 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. 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.”
He says, “Listen, if I were to give you a self-exalting message with a self-interested agenda, you would be right to dismiss it, but I’m not. This is my Father’s teaching, and I’m all about my Father’s glory.” Jesus’ motive, friends, is His Father’s glory. Jesus’ motive is His Father’s glory. There’s no agenda here. There’s no spin. There’s no manipulation. Jesus says, “I’m here to make much of my Father so you can trust what I’m saying.”
Now, Jesus looks at the crowd and He sees the hostility in some of their eyes. They remember the last time He was in Jerusalem, how He had healed on the Sabbath and they considered that a direct violation of the law of Moses, and so Jesus goes there next.
Verse 19: “Has not Moses given you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why do you seek to kill me?” He says, “Look, you’re all about the law of Moses. Right? And yet none of you keeps the law. Let me point out a particular way. Right now you’re trying to kill me. You’re plotting murder in your hearts. There’s a commandment on that. Do you remember it? I think it’s number six. Thou shalt not murder. I think Moses wrote that, didn’t he? He gave that one to you.”
“The crowd answered, ‘You have a demon! Who is seeking to kill you?’ Jesus answered them, ‘I did one work, and you all marvel at it. Moses gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. 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? Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.’”
Jesus here is referring to a well-known rabbinical principle. The command in the Scriptures, the fourth commandment to honor the Sabbath day and keep it holy, meant that you weren’t to work on the Sabbath. You weren’t to engage in your regular occupation on the Sabbath. No work on the Sabbath. But the law also required that all Jewish male babies be circumcised on the eighth day. And on occasion the eighth day landed on a Sabbath. And then we had a problem, okay? Because the mohel, who does the circumcision, this is his job. It’s his customary employment to do circumcision, and all of a sudden on the Sabbath he had to do a circumcision. Which takes precedence? The Sabbath rest command, or the command to do the circumcision? You see the question.
Okay, who wins out on this one? And the rabbis all agree that circumcision takes precedence over the Sabbath commandment. Two reasons: One, circumcision predates the giving of the law. You’ll remember that the sign of circumcision was given to Abraham, and Jesus alludes to that there when He says, “It’s not from Moses. It’s actually from the fathers.” The second reason that they allowed circumcision on the Sabbath was they believed that circumcision was perfecting a particular part of the body, bringing it into alignment with the will of God. In other words, the Sabbath was all about holiness, and so this was about bringing holiness to a part of the body before God, so that was okay. And Jesus is saying, “Look, when I healed that paralyzed man on the Sabbath, all I did was I did to his whole body what you already make allowance for on a part of the body. I made his whole body perfect and brought it into alignment with the will of God. I sanctified it and made it holy. I made him whole and holy on the Sabbath. There’s noting wrong with this. If you could do it with a part of the body, certainly you could do it with the whole of the body as well.”
And Jesus’ point here is that Jesus’ work is accomplishing His Father’s will. Jesus’ work is simply accomplishing His Father’s will. Do you notice how everything here is oriented around His Father? He teaching is from the Father. His motives are from the Father. His work is accomplishing the Father’s will. And how very unexpected this is, because everyone else (that everyone has ever known really), they have their own message, don’t they? And they are after their own ends so that they can do what they want. But not Jesus. He’s here for the Father.
Now the third unexpected thing here is His unexpected origins.
Verse 25: “Some of the people of Jerusalem therefore said, ‘Is not this the man whom they seek to kill? And here he is, speaking openly, and they say nothing to him! Can it be that the authorities really know that this is the Christ? But we know where this man comes from, and when the Christ appears, no one will know where he comes from.’”
See, some people can’t believe that Jesus is right there in the temple teaching. I mean why aren’t their leaders, the authorities intervening? I mean the word on the street is Jesus is a dead man. The authorities must be okay with this. Right? I mean, here He is. He’s right in the open teaching. Do they know He’s the Messiah, the Christ? But then they think, “Wait a minute. We always assumed the Messiah would just show up one day, and everyone would clearly say, ‘Wow, look! It’s the Messiah.’ But this Jesus, we know where He’s from. He grew up in Galilee. He’s just a guy down the street.” This is totally unexpected to them.
So in verse 28: “Jesus proclaimed, as he taught in the temple, ‘You know me, and you know where I come from. But I have not come of my own accord. He who sent me is true, and him you do not know. I know him, for I come from him, and he sent me.’”
He says, “Look, you know me. Yeah, I’m from Galilee, but I’m not from where you think I’m from. I’ve been sent here, and He who sent me is true. And I come from what you do not know. I come from the unknown, what I know but you don’t know. I come from the Father.” Jesus comes from the Father. He says, “Look, you expect the Messiah out of the blue. I come out of the hills of Galilee, from Nazareth, but my true home lies beyond the walls of the world. I come from my Father.”
The fourth unexpected thing here is His destiny, His unexpected destiny. Verse 30: “So they were seeking to arrest him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come.” There’s our phrase. Remember that? “His hour had not yet come.” No matter how much they wanted to, they couldn’t lay hold of Him because His hour of glory was not at hand.
Verse 31: “Yet many of the people believed in him. They said, ‘When the Christ appears, will he do more signs than this man has done?’ The Pharisees heard the crowd muttering these things about him, and the chief priests and Pharisees sent officers to arrest him.” So you could feel it escalating. Right now we’ve got the temple police involved. You can feel the tension mounting.
Verse 33: “Jesus then said, ‘I will be with you a little longer, and then I am going to him who sent me. You will seek me and you will not find me. Where I am you cannot come.’ The Jews said to one another, ‘Where does this man intend to go that we will not find him? Does he intend to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks and teach the Greeks? What does he mean by saying, “You will seek me and you will not find me,” and, “Where I am you cannot come”?’”
Now admittedly Jesus is a bit cryptic here, isn’t He? We know He’s talking about going home to His Father. He’s talking about the ascension. After He’s crucified, dead, and buried, He will be raised to life, and 40 days later will ascend to His Father where He will be seated at the right hand of the majesty on high. Jesus will return to His Father, but this is totally unexpected to them. They expected Messiah to come, to stay, to abide forever on the throne of David, and Jesus says, “I have come to go. I’m here to die. I will ascend to my Father, and I’ll be back.” But they don’t get it. They wonder if He’s talking about leaving Israel altogether and teaching the Jews that have been scattered throughout the Greco-Roman world. They’re confused, and frankly, Jesus just leaves them hanging here.
Now we move to the fifth unexpected thing today which is the offering, the unexpected offering. Verse 37: “On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, “Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”’ Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”
This statement that Jesus makes here is very similar to the one we saw in Samaria. To the woman at the well Jesus said it to her in chapter 4, verse 14: “Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” And remember what He said in the last chapter that we saw last week, chapter 6, verse 35, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”
See, again and again Jesus keeps coming back to these analogies. Just as we need bread and water to live physically, there is another kind of bread and water that we need to live spiritually, and that is found in the person of Jesus Himself.
Remember the New Covenant promises found in Isaiah 55, verses 1 to 3? “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for what which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant.”
Jesus is paraphrasing the passages don’t you see? “Come to me and I will give you life, springing, gurgling, gushing, overflowing, abundant life, like a river flowing from the very core of your being.” John says this is all about God’s Holy Spirit, the life of the Spirit of God in the New Covenant promises. This is what Jesus is talking about, the Spirit who would one day come after Jesus died, after He rose again, after He went to heaven, to glory, on another feast, on Pentecost as the Spirit came down.
And what was the price to secure the Spirit? Jesus died on the cross. This is amazing to me. When the spear was pushed into Jesus’ side into His heart, what poured out? Water and blood. Do you realize water poured from Jesus’ heart so that He might give you a river of water flowing from your heart? See the symmetry. Jesus offers fulfillment of the Spirit in Himself.
Now, remember Jesus at the beginning. He said He was waiting for His kairos, His opportune moment, to reveal Himself. Why did He pick the last day of this feast to cry out in this way? What made this the opportune moment? Hmm? Well, the Feast of Booths and Tabernacles were known for two main ceremonies. There was a lamp-lighting ceremony to commemorate the pillar of fire in the wilderness. We’ll talk about that in a couple of weeks. There was a water-pouring ceremony that took place every single day. Each of the seven days of the feast there was a golden flagon that was filled with water from the Pool of Siloam. It was carried in a big procession by the high priest through the city back to the temple. As they approached the water gate, the shofar was blasted three times, and the temple choir began singing the Hallel psalms-that’s Psalms 113 to 118. And the priests circled the altar, but when they got to the end of Psalm 118, the people shouted three times: “Give thanks to the Lord! Give thanks to the Lord! Give thanks to the Lord!” And the water was poured out as an offering along with the daily offering of wine on the altar. They were poured out as a thank offering for the provision and goodness of God. And it is until the very last day, the greatest day of the feast, in this final outpouring that Jesus waits, and then He cries out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”
See, through Moses, God had given bread from heaven, and water from the rock as they tabernacled in the wilderness. That’s what this festival and feast is all about. And Jesus has just said in chapter 6, “I am the living bread.” And now in chapter 7 He says, “I am the living water.” “I am here to fulfill this feast and fulfill the days of the Spirit the days of the New Covenant blessings of God in myself.” Isn’t that amazing?
Now we see a similar connection between the wilderness provisions of God, the Feast of Tabernacles, and the giving of the Spirit in Nehemiah 8 and 9. The exiles have returned to the land, and they’re celebrating for the first time in a long time the Feast of Tabernacles. And listen to the words of the prayer that the priests pray in Nehemiah 9, verses 15, 19, and 20. “In their hunger you gave them bread from heaven and in their thirst you brought them water from the rock...Because of your great compassion you did not abandon them in the wilderness. By day the pillar of cloud did not fail to guide them on their path, nor the pillar of fire by night to shine on the way they were to take. You gave your good Spirit to instruct them. You did not withhold your manna from their mouths, and you gave them water for their thirst.”
Can’t you see Jesus is tying all of this together? What Jesus does here, friends, is bold as brass. He connects all of these dots. It’s totally unexpected. This is His opportune moment. There’s no way they can miss what He’s saying. He’s saying, “All of this is made possible and is coming together in who I am.”
Now the sixth unexpected thing is the division that follows. Verse 40: “When they heard these words, some of the people said, ‘This really is the Prophet (the prophet like Moses that Moses prophesied would come).’ Others said, ‘This is the Christ.’ But some said, ‘Is the Christ to come from Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?’ So there was a division among the people over him. Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.”
(Laughs) Oh the irony, friends. By the time John is writing this, everyone knows Jesus was born in Bethlehem. (laughs) John knows it. His audience knows it. We know it, but the irony just lays there. Isn’t it maddening? Jesus is no country bumpkin from up in Galilee. He’s from David’s royal city. And John is winking at us along through this.
Verse 45: “The officers then came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, ‘Why did you not bring him?’ The officers answered, ‘No one ever spoke like this man!’” Don’t you love that? No one ever spoke like this man!
“The Pharisees answered them, ‘Have you also been deceived? Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him? But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.’”
Could you feel their blood beginning to boil here? They insult the ignorant and uneducated masses. Do you feel their scorn, their ego here? He says, “Look, have any of the religious leaders thrown in their lot with Jesus?” Oh the irony. What comes next?
Verse 50: “Nicodemus, who had gone to him before (Remember in chapter 3?), and who was one of them (the Pharisees), said to them, ‘Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?’” (Hmm?) “They replied, ‘Are you from Galilee too? Search and see that no prophet arises from Galilee.’”
So, I love it— No sooner have they asserted that the religious leaders, none of them have trusted or believed in Jesus, none of them were on Jesus’ side. Right? They’re unanimous in their opposition when Nicodemus speaks up on Jesus’ behalf (This is hilarious). He is powerful and influential. Remember, he’s the teacher of Israel, and he gives this levelheaded reminder about due process here, and they can’t stand it. They whirl around and pounce on him.
“Are you from Galilee too?” This is not a compliment. They say, “Are you a country bumpkin like all those people up north?” an ad hominem attack.
Then they repeat the line about Jesus being from Galilee without doing their homework. And in blind anger they say, “No prophet arises from Galilee.” But of course they had forgotten about Jonah and Nahum who were from Galilee. Their anger has blinded them. This response is not rational. It’s visceral, emotional. They’re angry. They’re threatened. They’re losing control, and friends, when people get backed into a corner they come up with all kinds of excuses and rationalizations and delusions that justify what they already want to believe and do.
And don’t you see what’s happening? Jesus is pushing them to the brink of a decision. Jesus is pushing them to the brink of a decision. They can’t ignore Him any longer. He’s not going to go away. And the question that is staring them in the face is what will they do with this Jesus? What will they do with this Jesus, which is a question we all must face really. What will you do with this Jesus?
What will you do with this Jesus? And honestly there’s really only about three options when it comes to Jesus. C. S. Lewis and others have described this as the trilemma. You know a dilemma is when you are faced with a hard choice between two options. In a trilemma you have three. The first option with Jesus is that He’s a lunatic, and so you just dismiss Him as a nutter, you know, like one of those crazy cult leaders that say they are God. The only problem with that is that as far as we can tell, Jesus is one of the most psychologically balanced and emotionally healthy people we know. His emotional bearing, His intelligence, His intuition, His self-control, His social awareness, none of this suggests that He’s off His rocker.
The second option is to think that Jesus is a liar, that He’s knowingly deceiving the masses, that this is some sort of maniacal scheme of His nefarious purposes here. He’s lying to gain power and rally people and start a movement or whatever. The problem is there were plenty of opportunities for Jesus to do just that. We’ve seen some of them, and Jesus always does the opposite. He’s the one who lays down His rights. He willingly goes to the cross without protesting or drama. He never enriched Himself off of His ministry. You have to ask the question, “What does Jesus get out of lying except an early death?”
The final option, and it’s really the only one left standing, is that Jesus is, in fact, the Lord, that He’s the Lord, which means to take Him at His word, to believe that He is who He says He is. And in that case we owe Him our allegiance. But there’s the rub, isn’t it? There’s the rub. For most of us this is the objection underneath all the other objections, because we’re not quite ready to let Jesus be the boss of us because we’re not quite sure what He might do with us. After all, He’s not a tame lion, is He? “‘Course He isn’t safe. But He’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
What will you do with this Jesus?
Will you pray with me?
“If anyone thirsts let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scriptures have said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”
Jesus, we come to you. Help us to see you, to realize who you are, and to find life in who you are as we believe, and to trust and to give ourselves to you. We welcome you, the King, the Lion, into our lives. Break through all of our defenses. Overwhelm all of our objections. Override all of our stubbornness. Have Your way in us we pray, in Jesus’ name, Amen.