Archive for the ‘ Holy Spirit ’ Category

Sermon: John 7:37-53 – Divided by Water

I preached again! Once again, I was at Paulden Christian Fellowship to help out brother Paul while he is out of town.

As usual, these are my notes, not necessarily everything I said. (But I mostly stuck to it this time. )

John 7:37-53 – Divided by Water

Unexpected Divisions

Before beginning: What would you do if you heard that people were preaching passages that were never in the Bible? What if someone told you that there are parts of the Bible that never should have made it into our Bibles?
Worried?
Doubt?
Fear?
7:53-8:11 – Apparently these verses do not show up in the earliest Greek manuscripts of John. Does this mean Jesus never stopped the stoning of the adulterous woman? Did He never write in the sand and turn away murderous teachers trying to catch Jesus in His words and have Him arrested?
Sometimes this passage shows up earlier in chapter 7, or at the end of John, or even in Luke, when we look at the earliest manuscripts.
Should it not be there? Should we not preach it?
Apparently, Ambrose and Augustine (in the late 300’s into the 400’s) talked about people who removed it for making it look like Jesus condoned adultery. The earliest it is found in manuscripts though is at least 100 years after those men.
Short answer: no one is 100% sure about its origins, but most people use it. There are even indications it was a story about Jesus being told during the Apostles’ lives. It does not contradict anything in Scripture or about Christ’s character.
Yet, it causes divisions amongst those who are called Christians.
Likewise, Jesus caused similar divisions during His ministry on Earth.

Living Water

John 7:37-39 (ESV):
“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.”

The last day of the feast of Booths/Tabernacles/Tents
(And the final day actually starts tomorrow night! Sept. 27-28, by our reckoning, so we are discussing this at about the same time it happened 2000 years ago!)

Jesus wanted as many people in Jerusalem as possible to go home hearing one final thought: that they need Him. So He shouted over the crowds.
This was a feast to remind the people of Israel of God rescuing their ancestors from slavery in Egypt and the 40 years in the wilderness.
Clearly, He is reminding everyone present of the two times Moses called water out of rocks. The Israelites complained about their thirst and need for water, so God sent them water flowing out of rocks.
“Living water” is a euphemism for flowing water. We are not as accustomed to thinking about it in our age of indoor plumbing, where we can go into our kitchens, bathrooms, and other rooms with sinks and washing machines and … other things with running water, and make water move.
Jesus is telling the people, “If you believe I am the Son of God who takes away the sins of the world, then faucet of God the Holy Spirit will turn on inside of you and flow through you.”
Sorry. Not just a faucet. I used to use the analogy that faith is like a stick of dynamite in a school toilet. It blows all the [crud] away and lets the water burst forth with gusto.
But what does Jesus say? It is a river. So, faith should be like Verde River flowing out of you. During a strong monsoon season. It SHOULD be overflowing and affecting everything around you.
And, naturally, this gets reactions from people.

Division

John 7:40-44 (ESV):
“When they heard these words, some of the people said, “This really is the Prophet.” 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.”

“Is this the Prophet?”

Deuteronomy 18:15-19, ESV
“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen— just as you desired of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ And the Lord said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.

They are already thinking of what Moses has done with water, so is this the One he said was coming?
But they get confused because they know a Messiah, a Christ, is coming. They know of the promise to David that his Descendant would rule forever. They know from Micah 6:8 that He would come from Bethlehem.
But do any of them know Jesus was born there?
We also know that many (if not most) people expected a Prophet – one who would restore proper worship – and a King – one who would rule with righteousness and expel those who do not properly worship. Two separate people.
They have plenty of examples. The two biggest: There was a king and a high priest throughout the time of the kingdom(s); Ezra and Nehemiah were a builder & defender and a priest, two who made sure everything was rebuilt and proper worship were restored.
They also may think of Moses who ruled over them (so to speak), yet his brother Aaron led the worship.
But we also know that Moses did both, Aaron serving more as a mouthpiece for his brother.
So, what do the people do? This is not the Messiah they expected. Some were obviously ready to follow, but some thought Jesus should be arrested and tried for leading people astray from God.
But no one touched Him. Instead, they are divided over their perceived expectations of their Lord.

Divisions Even in the Leadership

John 7:45-52:
“The officers (the Temple police, usually Levites who guarded the Temple gates and enforced Temple rules/laws – so usually priests who would know these) then came to the chief priests and Pharisees (the Sanhedrin – those who led the nation of Israel. Chief priests usually were related to the High Priest, which at this time meant the Roman-sympathetic Sadducees who denied the afterlife, as opposed to the Pharisees), who said to them, “Why did you not bring him?” The officers answered, “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.” Nicodemus, who had gone to him before, and who was one of them, said to them, “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?” They replied, “Are you from Galilee too? Search and see that no prophet arises from Galilee.””

Now, maybe you remember from before (Pastor Paul’s message) the hypocrisy of the leadership. How do we see it here?
The Temple guards admit this Man has authority, but “have any of the Sanhedrin [authorities and Pharisees] believed?” Well, yes. There is Nicodemus there with them, whom along with chapter 3 we are told is a member of the Sanhedrin, a Pharisee. And he attempts to defend Christ by the very Law the others are saying none of the crowd understands.
You know: that crowd that was asking if this is the Prophet from the Law or the promised Messiah that is mentioned throughout “the Prophets” (the rest of the OT).
And their response: Think of Nathanael in chapter 1: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” In other words, “Are you one of those miscreants, too? Nothing came from Galilee!”
Except, the Pharisees should know that at least Jonah came from there. Possibly Elijah and Nahum, too. But just one is enough to prove them wrong.
They are purposefully dividing the people over their own expectations.
They are also probably divided over whether to let someone who could bring the wrath of Rome on them.
Which means they are dividing over who to be faithful to.

How the Water Divides

John 7:53:
“They went each to his own house.”

Everyone left at the end of the feast having heard and divided over Jesus’ words.
How has anything changed in the roughly 1500 years between Moses and Jesus?
“This Jesus could bring down the wrath of Rome on us! We should get rid of Him to stay where we are in relative comfort and safety.” Compared to …
“Why has Moses brought us out here to die. We should go back to the relative comfort and safety of Egypt!”
Deuteronomy 18:15: ““The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen—”

Romans 1:21-22: “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools,”

What happened to the Egyptians after the Israelites crossed the Red Sea? They were drowned in the sea.
What happened to all the people who refused to listen to Noah when he built the Ark? They were drowned in the flood.
Do we believe God’s Word? Do we trust the Bible, or is it “just a book made by men?”
Do we believe that God’s Word, the Light that shines in the darkness, that is the the life and light of men, became flesh and dwelt among us; or was He “just a good teacher?”
Do we believe Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah, God come in the flesh to save us from our sins, or was He “just some dead dude?”
Do we believe in Him? Do we obey all He has commanded? Or are we content to do whatever we want?
Ancient Israel did the same thing. (Most repeated phrase in Judges: “They did what was right in their own eyes.” They did whatever they wanted.)
Are we wise in our own eyes? Or do we turn to the Wisdom of God who takes away the sins of the world?
We do the same thing today. 1500 years. 2000 years. 6000 years.
“There is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9)
We still assume we know better than God. We still squabble over what He really said.
“Did God really say …” (Genesis 3:1)
We divide over what we think God said instead of turning to Him first.

John 14:23-26:
“Jesus [said], “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

In Him, by the Holy Spirit, we know we have God’s love flowing in us. And the Holy Spirit, as He flows through us, reminds us the other things Jesus said: starting with obeying His commands.

What are His commands?

Matthew 22:37-39:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

And

John 13:34-35:
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

And how do we love God, love others, and love each other, the Church?
We find the fruit of the Spirit flowing through us:

Galatians 5:22-23: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control,” which pushes us to point others to Christ.
For,

John 16:13-15: “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”

And as Matthew 5 reminds us, when we point others to Christ – when we point out their sin, according to God’s standard as found in the Bible, the words inspired by the Holy Spirit – it will divide them into those who glorify God (put their faith in Him) and those who revile Him and attack us.
The Holy Spirit is the water that divides. He divides us into the sheep and the goats, the faithful and faithless.
Many will claim to know truth, but if it does not align with God’s Word, it only divides us from God.
Many will claim to know truth, but if they deny the Words of Truth, it only divides us from God.
The Living Water – the Holy Spirit – divides us by forcing us to choose Christ or this world, to choose to share Truth or to compromise, to choose loving Him and this world through His Word and grace and love or loving ourselves more.
And choosing Him leads to such a desire to go deeper, to know more, to love more, that it can’t be stopped.
Sure, we’ll have times of trouble and even near-despair. He promised as much (John14:27), but also that He will help us:

2 Corinthians 4:8-15:
“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.”

We cannot help but share Christ with the world, for His Spirit overflows from us as we seek Him daily.

Unity! Press on!

Do we come to church each weekend, hear some words said, and then go “each to his own house” without coming to a decision?
Or do we come to church, get invigorated with the Spirit through the preaching of the Word, and then carry that Word not only to our homes but to everyone else?

This is not a message to drag us down.

If you feel guilty, give that guilt to God. He has taken it on the cross!

Press on! Move forward!

Philippians 3:8-15: “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way”.

Philippians 4:4-9: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Do not divide over what God has said. Unite, in Christ, together, encouraging each other, and all the more as we see the Day of His return drawing near.

VerseD: 2 Peter 1:3

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence

2 Peter 1:3, ESV

God expects perfection. Thankfully, He has sent the Holy Spirit to fill in all of the many places we fall short as He clothes us in His Son, the only Perfect One.

VerseD: Luke 11:13

“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Luke 11:13, ESV

The greatest gift God gives us is Himself. The greatest gift we can give others is the Gospel, the good news that they can be saved from their sins and receive God Himself.

VerseD: Acts 1:8

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Acts 1:8, ESV

The Holy Spirit empowers us to love others by sharing the Gospel faithfully.

VerseD: Romans 8:26

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

Romans 8:26, ESV

It’s okay to not know what to pray for or how to pray, especially when we have to deal with the problems of this world. Our Lord knows our needs and and helps us in all things.

VerseD: 1 Corinthians 10:13

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

1 Corinthians 10:13, ESV

We face many temptations, but our God always is there to help us and strengthen us through His Holy Spirit.

VerseD: Galatians 5:25

If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.

Galatians 5:25, ESV

We live by what is revealed in Scripture and what aligns with Scripture, the very words written by the Holy Spirit through men.

VerseD: Acts 2:38

And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 2:38, ESV

We let God change our thinking about sin so that we do not want to sin, we believe in the saving work of Jesus, and we get baptized. This is how we become a Christian. It is the work of God by the Holy Spirit.

VerseD: John 14:26

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
John 14:26, ESV

His helps us remember His Word to fight off temptations to sin and to lead others in all truth to the saving knowledge of Jesus.

VerseD: Galatians 2:20

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Galatians 2:20, ESV

We war against our sinful desires, but our lives have been redeemed by Christ who dwells within us and fights for by His Holy Spirit.