Sunday Morning Bible Study
December 24, 1995
It's been starting to get dangerous for Jesus and His ministry.
At the time of the Feast of the Tabernacles, He didn't go up to Jerusalem with the rest of the people, but went up later in secret.
When the time was right, He began to teach in the temple.
Jesus was meeting with two reactions -
Some wanted to arrest Him and have Him killed.
The Jewish authorities have decided to send police officers to have Jesus arrested.
Instead they came away dazed at the things that Jesus spoke.
Then on the last day of the Feast, Jesus stood up and made an incredible claim:
»John 7:37-39 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. 38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. 39 (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)
Jesus promised to be the source for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, to meet the deepest hungers and thirsts inside of man.
:40-44 Is He the Christ?
:40 the Prophet
This group of people are referring to Moses' words in Deuteronomy:
»Deuteronomy 18:15 The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken;
This was kind of a nebulous prophecy that had been interpreted many ways.
Some had taken to mean that there would a great "prophet", someone different than the Messiah, who would come.
Some had thought that this "prophet" would be the forerunner to the Messiah.
Some felt that this verse referred to the Messiah.
:41 the Christ
The term "Christ" is the Greek translation of the Jewish term "Messiah".
It is not Jesus' last name (as in "Jesus Christ")
The Messiah was God's promised deliverer for the Jews.
He was promised to deliver them from all their enemies.
He was the Savior.
Interestingly enough, one of the prophecies that concerned the times of the Messiah's coming, also refer to an outpouring of water, just as Jesus referred to in verse 38:
»Isaiah 35:5-7 (NAS) Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, And the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. 6 Then the lame will leap like a deer, And the tongue of the dumb will shout for joy. For waters will break forth in the wilderness And streams in the Arabah. 7 And the scorched land will become a pool, And the thirsty ground springs of water; In the haunt of jackals, its resting place, Grass becomes reeds and rushes.
:41 Shall Christ come out of Galilee?
Galilee was the northern third of the land of Israel.
As far as they knew, Jesus' hometown was Nazareth, where He grew up.
They didn't know of any prophecies concerning the Messiah and Galilee.
Too bad they missed Isaiah 9:1-2, which Matthew quotes:
»Matthew 4:13-16 And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: 14 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, 15 The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; 16 The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.
:42 Christ cometh of the seed of David
That's right, folks, He came from the lineage of David, the king:
There's quite a few scriptures that prophecy this fact:
»Isaiah 11:1-2 And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: 2 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;
See also Psalm 132:11; Jer.23:5
In all there are over 300 prophecies that detailed the first coming of Jesus to the earth.
God went into great detail so there would be no mistake about who the Messiah would be.
The prophecies contained such things as:
His deity. (Ps.2:7; Is.7:14)
His genealogy. (Gen.22:8; 21:12; Num.24:17; Gen.49:10; Is.11:1)
The virgin birth. (Is.7:14)
His birthplace. (Mic.5:2)
The miracles. (Is.35:5)
His teachings. (Ps.78:2)
His triumphant entry into Jerusalem. (Ps. 118:25)
The very DAY of His arrival. (Dan.9:24-27)
His rejection by the Jews. (Is.53:3)
His betrayal by a close friend. (Ps.41:9)
The price of His betrayal. (Zech.11:12)
Abandonment by His friends. (Zech.13:7)
Explicit details of His death. (Ps.22)
His place of burial (Is.53:9)
His resurrection. (Ps.16:10)
His ascending into heaven. (Ps.68:18)
What's the odds of someone fulfilling these prophecies?
If just eight of the prophecies are taken, mathematicians have figured that the odd would be 1 in 1017*. (Note to Tim Minerd, the numbers with an asterisk aren't going to print on your computer right, they are superscripted numbers, like this one which is 10 to the 21st power)
What's that like?
Peter Stoner writes, "we take 1017* silver dollars and lay them on the face of Texas. They will cover all the state two feet deep. Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir up the whole mass thoroughly, all over the state. Blindfold a man and tell him that he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up one silver dollar and say that this is the right one. What chance would he have of getting the right one? Just the same chance that the prophets would have had of writing these eight prophecies and having themm all come true in any one man, from their day to the present time, providing they wrote them in their own wisdom."
But that's just with eight prophecies.
If we take 48 of the prophecies, the odds increase to 1 in 10157*.
What's that like?
Stoner writes, "We must select a smaller object. The electron is about as small an object as we know of. It is so small that it will take 2.5 times 1015* of them laid side by side to make a line, single file, one inch long. If we were going to count the electrons in this line one inch long, and counted 250 each minute, and if we counted day and night, it would take us 19 million years to count just the one inch line of electrons. If we had a cubic inch of these electrons and we tried to count them it would take us, counting steadily 250 each minute, 19 million times 19 million times 19 million years, or 6.9 times 1021* years".
"With this introduction, let us go back to our chance of 1 in 10157*. Let us suppose that we are taking this number of electrons, marking one, and thoroughly stirring it into the whole mass, then blindfolding a man and letting him try to find the right one. What chance has he of finding the right one? What kind of pile will this number of electrons make? They make an inconceivably large volume"
And this is only the chances of one man fulfilling 48 prophecies.
There were over 300 prophecies of Jesus!
What's the point?
1. The Bible is an incredible book.
When you see the prophecies that have been fulfilled, you better pay attention to the rest of it as well.
It's very, very clear that God has spoken to us in the pages of the Bible.
How else are these things being fulfilled?
2. Jesus is the Messiah - what are you going to do with Him?
When He says in John 14:6,
»I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
And again we read:
»John 3:16-18 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
Are you going to take Him seriously?
Is it time that you pay attention to Jesus?
Are you willing to gamble your eternity destiny by refusing Jesus, when the evidence is so overwhelmingly in favor of Him.
:42 out of the town of Bethlehem
The people are referring to the ancient prophecy (about 735 b.c.) concerning Bethlehem:
»Micah 5:2 But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.
Ephrath or Ephratah = "place of fruitfulness", another name for Bethlehem.
Bethlehem is a little town about 6 miles south and west of Jerusalem, kind of like Anaheim is to Fullerton.
It was the home town where David was born.
Of course, because of God's hand in it all, this is what happened:
»Luke 2:1-7 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. 2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
The Messiah had to come from Bethlehem.
So God had Joseph and Mary moved, temporarily.
:43 there was a division among the people because of him
It hasn't stopped.
Jesus still brings division between people.
It's not an easy thing to tell people about Jesus.
:45-53 The Leaders' Misconceptions
:46 Never man spake like this man
»NIV "No one ever spoke the way this man does"
As we're going to see, the bosses of these officers are going to have a lot of misconceptions about Jesus.
But that's because they have yet to spend any real time with Jesus.
They're just hearing everything second hand.
But when these officers heard Jesus face to face, it blew their minds.
I find it fascinating that the officers didn't say,
"He did such awesome miracles ..." or,
"We were just too afraid of the crowds"
Instead, they were overpowered by the words of Jesus.
Take some time listening to the Author of Life, He'll blow your mind.
Some of you have grown up hearing ideas about Jesus, but never really checking Him out for yourself.
Don't pay attention to the rumors, go to the man Himself.
You might find yourself saying what Peter said:
»John 6:67-69 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? 68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. 69 And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.
Listen to Jesus' words - start by reading the entire Gospel of John.
:49 this people who knoweth not the law are cursed
Ironically, even though the rulers and Pharisees claimed to know more about the Law, it was the people who believed that were more in line with the Law than they were.
We read about him in John 3.
He was a Pharisee who came to Jesus secretly, at night, wanting to know more about Jesus.
He had come to believe in Jesus, and would even helped with Jesus' burial (John 19:39).
:51 Doth our law judge ...
Nicodemus was speaking from experience.
He had already spent time with Jesus, and had found out for himself.
:52 for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet
I hate to break the news to these guys, but they're wrong on two fronts:
1. Prophets do come from Galilee
The rulers are only thinking about part of the prophecies, the ones about Bethlehem, and Judah.
They've ignored prophecies like Isaiah 9:1-2.
And they've forgotten about a few prophets who were from Galilee:
Jonah (2Ki 14:25)
Elijah (1Ki 17:1)
Nahum (Na 1:1)
2. Jesus, though having grown up in Galilee, was born in Bethlehem.
It's not hard to get misconceptions about Jesus
It's easy enough to get misconceptions about people we know.
The history books are full of stories of gifted persons whose talents were overlooked by a procession of people until someone believed in them. Einstein was four years old before he could speak and seven before he could read. Issac Newton did poorly in grade school. A newspaper editor fired Walt Disney because he had "no good ideas". Leo Tolstoy flunked out of college, and Werner von Braun failed ninth grade algebra. Haydn gave up ever making a musician of Beethoven, who seemed a slow and plodding young man with no apparent talent -- except a belief in music.
I've met several people that at first meeting, I thought they were rather weird.
I remember meeting one guy who was always coming up to me at the end of the service and telling me what I said that was wrong.
Until I got to really know him and his heart.
I remember one guy who came to our evening service years ago, who lived on the street.
He had long hair, a long beard, and dirty clothes.
But when you got to talking with him, you found out how beautiful his heart was.
After a while, we kind of started thinking of him as an angel in our midst.
You better be sure you've got your facts straight.
If what these Christians are saying about Jesus is correct, your whole eternal destiny could depend on it.
There are lots of popular misconceptions about Jesus going around:
The Good Teacher
Some think that He was just a good teacher, and that His whole purpose was to just show us how to live.
But the Bible said that He came for the purpose of dying.
He was born as a human so He could become the perfect substitution for us, the perfect sacrifice to pay for our sins.
The Good Man
Some see Him as just a good man. They claim that all this talk about Jesus being God was just cooked up by the apostle Paul.
Yet several times Jesus Himself claimed to be God.
And the Jews got the message, the reason they wanted to kill Him was because He was making Himself equal with God.
The Spirit Guide
Some see Him as some kind of a cosmic "spirit guide", one of many that a person can choose from.
But Jesus made it clear that salvation depended completely on Him.
There is no other place to go.
It has to be Jesus.
What have you been thinking about Jesus?
Are you sure it's the truth?
Maybe you've been living your life based on a misconception about Jesus.
Maybe it's time you really got to know who Jesus is.
Maybe it's time you opened up your heart to Him.