November 10, 2019 at First Presbyterian Church at Unionville, NY (BPC)
[Jhn 7:25-36 ESV] 25 Some of the people of Jerusalem therefore said, “Is not this the man whom they seek to kill? 26 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? 27 But we know where this man comes from, and when the Christ appears, no one will know where he comes from.” 28 So 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. 29 I know him, for I come from him, and he sent me.” 30 So they were seeking to arrest him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come. 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?” 32 The Pharisees heard the crowd muttering these things about him, and the chief priests and Pharisees sent officers to arrest him. 33 Jesus then said, “I will be with you a little longer, and then I am going to him who sent me. 34 You will seek me and you will not find me. Where I am you cannot come.” 35 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? 36 What does he mean by saying, ‘You will seek me and you will not find me,’ and, ‘Where I am you cannot come’?”
In the first century, messianic expectation rose greatly. The Jews were fervently looking for the messiah.
In the Book of Acts we hear of two failed first-century messianic movements. First there was Theudas who “rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing.” “After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too perished, and all who followed him were scattered.” (Acts 5:36-37)
There are other accounts of failed first-century messianic movement recorded by Jewish and Roman historians.
In the first century the fervor was at its height. The people were looking for that promised messiah of the Old Testament. But, they weren’t looking very wisely. They did not search the Scriptures. The true messiah now comes and they don’t recognize him.
We continue this week with Jesus’ speech to the crowd at the Festival of Booths. This time of Jesus at the Festival of Booths goes all the way from John 7:14 through the end of John chapter 8. Clearly, John the Apostle believed that this was an important event in the life of Jesus. So much so that he dedicates what we now have as almost two full chapters to it.
Jesus has just told the crowd to judge with right judgment who he is.
I. From the Father
A. Discussion among the people. vs. 25-27
And then we read,
25 Some of the people of Jerusalem therefore said, “Is not this the man whom they seek to kill? 26 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? 27 But we know where this man comes from, and when the Christ appears, no one will know where he comes from.”
Jesus had come into the arena of fear at the Feast of Booths where no one could speak openly about him for fear of the Jews. And in the middle of this festival he goes up to the temple and begins speaking. Now the people realize that the Jewish authorities are doing nothing about it. “Here he is, speaking openly and they say nothing to him.”
HE is speaking publicly. And THEY are saying nothing. Oh, how the tides have turned. The crowds were murmuring quietly, now the authorities (!) are quiet.
It is not said in the text why the authorities act in this way. Perhaps they are afraid of a revolt happening. Or perhaps they were stunned at the boldness of Jesus.
Regardless, the people now ask “what’s up.” “Can it be that the authorities really know that this is the Christ?” Is that why they are not arresting him on the spot?
But they—the crowd—argue against the idea that Jesus is the Christ, the messiah. They say “But we know where this man comes from, and when the Christ appears, no one will know where he comes from.”
Here is where we realize that they are very poorly trained in the Scriptures. The Old Testament, in fact, specifies exactly from where the Messiah would come! But they claim “no one will known where he comes from.”
The Scriptures say Jesus would be born in Bethlehem. Micah 5:2 “O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from old, from ancient days.”
And the Scriptures say he would come out of Egypt and that he would be called a Nazarene.
Hosea 1:11 – “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son.” (see also Matthew 2:15)
[Mat 2:23 ESV] 23 And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene.
So Jesus, born in Bethlehem, escaped to Egypt, and raised in Nazareth fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies and it was known where he had come from, earthly speaking.
B. Jesus’ response. v. 28-29
Jesus then responds to the crowd who has claimed that the messiah will come from an unknown place.
28 So 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. 29 I know him, for I come from him, and he sent me.”
Jesus points to the Father. Yes, Jesus has come from Bethlehem (and Egypt and Nazareth). But even more importantly, he has come From the Father. [REPEAT: From the Father]
The people do not know God, as proven by their lack of knowing God’s word. But Jesus does known God, for he has come From the Father. We are reminded of John’s prologue where he says “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.” (John 1:18)
C. The Jews’ response v. 30-32
The authorities now seek to arrest him. He has gone TOO FAR in saying that they don’t known God! That had to cut deep for the Pharisees who had dedicated themselves to study the Law. But yet without faith they did not have a proper understanding of the Law and so did not see Jesus as the Messiah. And without recognizing Jesus, they are seen not to know God as He truly is.
Yet, while they seek to arrest Jesus, the text says “no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come.” We don’t have the specifics on how this worked. But in God’s good providence he arranged it so that any attempt to arrest Jesus at this juncture would be thwarted. Why? Because his hour had not yet come. In the end, we know Jesus will be arrested and he will be crucified and will die. But it is not yet his hour.
The people themselves—the crowd that is—react differently than the authorities. It is said “Yet many of the people believed in him.” But, like elsewhere in John’s Gospel this “belief” cannot be understood to be “saving faith.” Their belief is limited to the miracles he has done. And now with the crowd’s reaction we understand that they know of multiple miracles of Jesus. Previously (last week) we saw that they knew of the “one work” (of the healing of the paralytic at the pool of Bethesada). But now we see that it is plural. They say “When the Christ appears, will he do more SIGNS than this man has done?”
So it might be that some of the people are even believing that Jesus is the Messiah. It is unclear if any of them yet belief that He is the Son of God.
We now transition though to the second half of the passage chosen for today. In the first half we saw Jesus saying he has come From the Father. Now he’ll say that he will also go To the Father. Jesus has come From the Father and he will return To the Father.
II. To the Father
A. Jesus’ response. v. 33-34.
While the Pharisees sent officers to arrest Jesus, he says to all, “”I will be with you a little longer, and then I am going to him who sent me. 34 You will seek me and you will not find me. Where I am you cannot come.”
In this phrase Jesus again uses that term “ego eimi”—that declaration of his divinity, that He is the great I AM. So not only is he From the Father, and going To the Father, Jesus Is himself Divine, very God of very God.
Though the people will seek him they will not find him, for he is going to him who sent him. That is, Jesus is going To the Father.
It really is a short period of time that Jesus is on the earth. And at the time of his speech at the Festival of Booths only about six months remain for Jesus on the earth. Thus he says “I will be with you a little longer.” But then, “I am going to him who sent me.”
When, you might ask, does Jesus go To the Father?
This is a bit of a trick question. It is not at his death, but at his ascension. Three days after Jesus died, he rose again and appeared to the disciples and to many other people over a period of about 40 days. But then, as the Book of Acts tells us, his apostles saw him lifted up and a cloud took him out of their sight. And two angels said to them “This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
This ascension is Jesus going To the Father.
He has come From the Father and has authority and purpose. And he has gong To the Father. And he will one day again return. This is the second coming of Christ. When he will return to judge the living and the dead.
He came From the Father. He went to the Father. He will come again.
He who was, who is, and who is to come.
In John 14 we find what Jesus is doing there with the Father before he returns.
“In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were no so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”
Jesus has gone to the Father and he is preparing a place for you, all who believe in his name. All who believe that he is the Christ, the Son of God.
FOR YOU, Jesus prepares a place.
Before I conclude, lets look at the crowd’s response to Jesus’ saying that “where I am you cannot come.”
B. The Jew’s response. 35-36
They again give this a crassly literal interpretation. They think Jesus is referring to his departing to some other place on Earth, not heaven.
They say “Does he intend to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks and teach the Greeks.”
The dispersion was all of those Jews scattered around the world since the time of the Babylonian captivity, and because of other historical events. The Jews were not all in Israel. There were great centers of Jewish people in Babylon, Egypt, and Corinth among other places. Jews were even in Rome until Caesar banished them.
So the crowd thinks maybe Jesus is saying that he’s going on tour; the he’s going to speak to all of these dispersed peoples. Or maybe even to the Greeks themselves.
This will not be Jesus’s mission. He was sent to the lost sheep of Israel. But the Covenant is for all peoples, and with Paul the Apostle and others there will be the spread of the Gospel to the dispersion and the Greeks and to all people.
But, for the immediate time, that is not what Jesus is referencing. He is going not to the dispersion, he is going To the Father. And there they cannot come because they do not believe.
So we see in the passage these truths that Jesus comes From the Father and that he goes To the Father.
We know also that he will come again.
Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again.
We say similarly in both the Apostle’s Creed and the Nicene creed, of Jesus: “He ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again with glory to judge the living and the dead. His kingdom will never end.”
In the Scriptures themselves we read of the second coming of Christ:
1 John 3:2-3
2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
Be encouraged then. The Christ who came From God and has gone To the Father to prepare a place for you in Heaven, He will return again in glory.
Blessed be the name of the Lord. Amen.