Sunday Morning Bible Study
November 26, 1995
Jesus had just done an incredible thing, feeding a huge multitude, at least five thousand men, not to mention the women and children.
Then He told them:
»John 6:35-AV And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
Jesus was starting to make some pretty tough claims.
He started sounding as if He would be the only way for someone to gain eternal life.
:1 Jesus' popularity dips
:1 After these things
After the things we've seen in John 6 - feeding the 5,000, and the discussions that followed.
:1 he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him
Jewry - lit., better translated, "Judaea"
Again, for review, Judaea is the southern third of Israel, where the capital, Jerusalem is.
Samaria is in the center.
Galilee is in the north.
It's after this episode of feeding the five thousand along the sea of Galilee, that things turn in the ministry of Jesus.
He has about a year left before He's going to be crucified.
It's at this point that His popularity begins to take a nose dive in the polls.
In fact, He's so unpopular, that the Jews are now planning how to have Him killed.
Back in chapter six, the events were taking place around the time of the passover:
»John 6:4 And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh.
Apparently, Jesus did not attend the passover this particular time, because of His intense unpopularity.
There's a time to be brave, and there's a time to be prudent.
The point is not that Jesus is afraid to die.
When His time comes, He'll march straight into Jerusalem with lots of noise and hooplah.
But it's not His time to face the cross yet.
And so it's wiser to avoid the trouble for now.
Sometimes when we read stories about the saints of old, and how they died such brave martyr deaths, we get to thinking that at every sign of trouble, we're to march right in and take the bullets.
But that's only if that's God's timing.
Sometimes it's wiser to avoid the trouble for a while, and get more work done in the meantime for the kingdom.
:2-8 The family heads off to the feast in Jerusalem
:2 the Jews' feast of tabernacles
Our last time reference was in John 6:4, that the Passover was at hand.
That was the March-April time of the year.
Now we're at the Feast of Tabernacles, also called "Succoth"
It's now six month later.
The Feast of Tabernacles began on the 15th day of the seventh month (Ethanaim, or, Tisri), which answers to our September-October. It lasted for seven days.
It occurred 5 days after the Day of Atonement (10th of seventh month).
Yom Kippur this year was on October 4, Succoth started on October 9.
It was one of the three great feasts where all the men were to come to Jerusalem and celebrate (Ex.34:23, Passover, Pentecost, Tabernacles).
Tabernacles had two purposes:
1. It was also called the Feast of the Ingathering, meaning that all the harvest had been gathered in.
Kind of like a "Harvest Celebration", like Thanksgiving.
2. It was also called "Tabernacles", or "Booths", and the people would live in little tents or shelters made from tree branches for seven days. They were to remember how their ancestors had wandered for forty years in the wilderness, living in "tabernacles", and how during that time, God too "tabernacled" with them, or, dwelt with them.
What's the significance of this?
We'll see the significance of Tabernacles when we get to verse 37.
:3-5 The family gets ready to leave
:4 If thou do these things shew theyself to the world
Jesus' brothers couldn't understand why Jesus wasn't going for the limelight.
They didn't yet fully understand who He was, but the things that Jesus was doing were incredible, and they wanted to see Jesus' face on the front of the National Enquirer (Enquiring minds want to know...).
God doesn't always go for the splash and pizzaz.
It's kind of like the ironic way that people use this verse:
»John 12: 32 "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself."
It's common to hear preachers say, "Let's lift up the name of Jesus, so that people will be drawn to Him", as if to say that if we make a little louder noise, a little bigger show, that we will draw people to Jesus.
But that's a total misinterpretation of the verse. Look at the following verse and see the explanation:
»John 12:33 But He was saying this to indicate the kind of death by which He was to die.
God's way of drawing people to Himself was not to use a bigger P.A., but to allow His Son to hang on a cross.
That's not to say that God can't use splashes and pizzaz every once in a while.
Elijah on Mount Carmel was a pretty good publicity stunt!
But God also loves to use the lowly, humble approach as well.
:5 neither did his brethren believe in him
At least not yet.
Amazing, even Jesus' own family had a hard time believing at one point.
Some of their names?
»Mark 6:3 "Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James, and Joses, and Judas, and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us?" And they took offense at Him.
1. Don't be discouraged with unbelief in your family.
We know the principle in Scripture:
»Mark 6:4 But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.
Don't feel like you're some kind of inferior witness, and that's why your family members haven't come to the Lord.
Look, there were people in JESUS' family that didn't believe at one point!
2. But don't give up either.
But just because it's harder for our own family to believe our own testimony, doesn't mean that we have to neglect our family either.
Sometimes the greatest witness we might receive is the very one from in the family.
How many of you were influenced by a godly parent, grandparent, brother, sister, etc.?
Look at Timothy's influences:
»2Timothy 1:4-5 Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. 5 I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.
Eventually, Jesus' family did believe.
Two of His "half" brothers, James and Jude even wrote part of the New Testament, the books bearing their names.
James in particular, became head of the church in Jerusalem.
But in James' case, he apparently didn't believe until after the resurrection, when Jesus appeared to him.
Paul records this:
»1Corinthians 15:3-7 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. 7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.
Hang in there with the family witness!
:6 My time is not yet come; but your time is alway ready
NIV translates this:
»Therefore Jesus told them, "The right time for me has not yet come; for you any time is right.
The idea is simply that for going up to this feast, Jesus wasn't ready to go yet, it wasn't on His time schedule.
But His brothers could go at any time.
:7 me it hateth, because I testify of it
Jesus had a way of making people uncomfortable.
They were uncomfortable about their sin.
I'm afraid to say that the tradition continues.
This hatred of Jesus passes on to us.
»John 15:18-20 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. 20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
I've never liked this, and I wish it weren't true.
But it is.
On the other hand, we should be careful that when persecution comes, it comes because we're being a loving, faithful representative of Jesus Christ, not because we're being obnoxious.
The preachers at college - they were obnoxious, and they drew lots of flack for it, deservedly so.
:8 my time is not yet full come
Jesus would go, but only at the right time.
For Jesus, timing was EVERYTHING!
Learn to wait for God's timing.
We're always in such a hurry to go places and get things done.
God may very well have a different time table than ours.
And His timing is going to be much, much better than ours.
Here's some promises about "waiting":
»Ps 27:14 Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.
qavah - to wait, look for, hope, expect
»Ps 37:34 Wait on the LORD, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land:
»Isa 40:31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
»La 3:25-26 The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. 26 It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.
quietly wait - duwmam - in silence, silently
:12 much murmuring among the people
murmuring - goggusmos - a murmur, murmuring, muttering
1a) a secret debate
1b) a secret displeasure not openly avowed
The people were muttering among themselves, debating over who Jesus was.
Kind of like what people have done about the OJ trial, it was the hot topic of the day.
:13 no man spake openly of him for fear of the Jews
The leaders of the Jews had been making it clear that they weren't thrilled with Jesus.
And as leaders, they had the authority of kicking people out of the synagogue.
We see this later on in the case of the blind man who was healed, and the leaders of the Jews went to his parents to ask if he was really born blind:
»John 9:20-23 His parents answered them and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind: 21 But by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself. 22 These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue. 23 Therefore said his parents, He is of age; ask him.
Being kicked out of the synagogue wasn't a fun thing!
It meant that all your social ties would cease.
It meant that all your friends would disappear.
In a way, it was also kind of like being cut off from God!
To this day, it's a very difficult thing for an Orthodox Jew to come to Jesus, because their family will disown them, they will go through a ceremony and proclaim you a "non-son".
The mother of Rabin's assasin has done this with her son, saying, "I no longer have a son".
Can a person be a Christian and just "keep it quiet" so nobody gets hurt?
Following Jesus must be done openly
Jesus Himself said,
»Matthew 10:32-33 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. 33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
Following Jesus is something we must not be ashamed of.
If we're ashamed of Jesus on earth, He'll be ashamed of us in heaven.
As to the man that was healed, he wasn't afraid to talk about Jesus:
»John 9:24-28 Then again called they the man that was blind, and said unto him, Give God the praise: we know that this man is a sinner. 25 He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see. 26 Then said they to him again, What did he to thee? how opened he thine eyes? 27 He answered them, I have told you already, and ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear it again? will ye also be his disciples? 28 Then they reviled him, and said, Thou art his disciple; but we are Moses' disciples.
But look what happened to him:
»John 9:34-38 They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out. 35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? 36 He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? 37 And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. 38 And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.
What's really more important?
Is it better to keep a few friends who are holding you back from Jesus?
Or is it better to have Jesus, even if no one else follows you?
The Bible says,
»Proverbs 29:25 The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.
If you are trusting in Jesus, it must be public, it must not be covered up.
You see, the people you're hiding it from are the very people who need to see it the most.
They too need salvation, they too need Jesus.
And they won't see unless you show them.
Auxensius was a great commander under the Emperor Lycinius. Lycinius came one day into the court of his palace, where there was a great bath, and some vines growing about it, with the image of Bacchus set up among the vines. The emperor commanded Auxensius to draw his sword and cut off a bunch of grapes, which, as soon as he had done, he ordered him to offer it at the feet of Bacchus, which was as much as to acknowledge him to be a god. Auxenisius answered, "I am a Christian; I will not do it." "What! Not do it at my command?" saith the emperor; "then you must quit your place." "With all my heart, sir," said the Christian soldier, and, in token of it, put off his belt, which was the same as giving up his commission, and departed rejoicing that he was enabled to withstand the temptation.
How far are you willing to go to admit to following Jesus?
Have you been a "closet Christian" too long?
Is it time that you start admitting that you are following Jesus?
Make it public!
Start now! (Altar Call, please!)