13 January 2014

JESUS THE GREAT DIVIDER


John 7:40-53

There are some things in life that you can be neutral about but Jesus is not one of them. Yet many people around the globe are still trying to be neutral about Jesus. They claim that Jesus was a good man, maybe a even a great man, but that was long ago and in another time and it has nothing to do with how they live their lives. And it certainly does not require that I go to church much less belong to a church. They say, “You don’t have to go to church to believe in Jesus.” In Luke 11:23 and in Matt 12:30 Jesus said, “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.”See we need to understand that faith in Jesus always has been and will continue to be a dividing line in this world. In parts of the world today where Christianity is not the major religion it is still very much so. In countries in which Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam are the predominant religions, to come to faith in Christ often means being disowned by your family. You may be saying how does that concern me in Canada in the year 2014? Kent Hughes in his commentary states, “Christ brings division to everyday life. We all have experienced this. Maybe we are at the store, in school, or at work, and we are talking animatedly with someone about any number of things – maybe politics or education or sports or even the weather. Then someone says something like, ‘My life has really been different lately because of Christ.’ Suddenly there is a silence and a shuffling of the feet. Someone coughs. Someone else looks at his watch and says, ‘I’ve got an appointment to get to or I’ll be late.’ Another says, ‘Oh, yes I have to go feed the dog. I must be going.’ But in reality the man who said he had to feed the dog did not have a dog to feed and the other person’s appointment was the next day. Yet the mere mention of Christ brings division to life.” Think about that statement for a moment? Did Jesus come to divide? The answer to that question is Yes! Before you lynch me listen to what the scriptures say! Again the question is "Did Jesus come to divide?" YES! Think about it for a moment!

HE CAME TO DIVIDE THE BELIEVER FROM THE UNBELIEVER.

“He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son.” 1 John 5:10. In John 3:18 Jesus said this to Nicodemus "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

HE CAME TO DIVIDE THOSE WHO WALK IN THE LIGHT FROM THOSE WHO WALK IN DARKNESS.

“Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life." John 8:12. Paul penned these words “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.” Eph 5:8

HE CAME TO DIVIDE THE SHEEP FROM THE GOATS.

“All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.” Matt 25:32-33

HE CAME TO DIVIDE THE CHILDREN OF GOD FROM THE CHILDREN OF THE DEVIL.

“In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.” 1 John 3:10

Why did Jesus come to divide? Answer can be found in Matt 12:30 “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.” Jesus also said these powerful words! Luke 12:5-53 “Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division. For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three. Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law." He also said “"Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.” Matt 10:34. 

What does a sword usually do? It usually cuts or severs whatever it touches with its blade. What a picture of what the gospel does to a person who is converted out of a family who isn’t! Ask a Muslim convert or Buddhist convert what happens when their family finds out they have converted to Christianity………usually a sword comes upon them. Why? All because of ones person’s name Jesus! See our cultures; especially in religious circles are greatly divided when it comes to Jesus. As J C Ryle said as we come to today’s passage in John’s letter…….”How useless is knowledge in religion, if it is not accompanied by grace in the heart.” That is as true then, as it is now; as we come to the text this morning! We see 4 different groups of people who are divided by the presence and name of Jesus! My question for you is…………………Which group do you fit into?

THE PERSUADED AND THE OPPOSED……………….. (V40-V44A)

The Persuaded

These are the thirsty people who listened and accepted Christ’s invitation by coming to Him “Therefore many from the crowd, when they heard this saying, said, "Truly this is the Prophet." Others said, "This is the Christ." It’s that drinking of the Living water that only He can provide as he spoke about previously as the Feast Day was coming to a close. These are the people who are the believing remnant of Israel. “……..I will surely gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together like sheep of the fold, Like a flock in the midst of their pasture; They shall make a loud noise because of so many people.” Micah 2:12. In Luke’s gospel we read “"Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32

The Opposed

They willfully refuse to believe the claims of Jesus even when the truth was right before their eyes. Why? Look whey said “Will the Christ come out of Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?" See, they identified Jesus with Galilee, when in reality He was born in Bethlehem. So sad to see the natural ignorance and laziness of mankind on display here in this passage. Sadly these people would rather argue about the Christ then to investigate about the Christ. See, if they had done the research or did a goggle search, they would have discovered that Jesus met both of those requirements in their questioning. Jesus was a descendent of David “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.” Luke 1:32. Jesus was born in Bethlehem “Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:4-7. But being happy in their ignorance like most of our culture today, they chose not to believe this truth about Jesus any way. 

So what was the result of this unbelief? “So there was a division among the people because of Him.” Some said “Truly this is the Prophet” or “This is the Christ” while others said “no He is not”. We still have this problem today when Jesus is mentioned to a crowd or small group of people. We people all around debating on who Jesus was and is. Talk to a JW, Mormon or a devote Muslim they will speak much differently about Him them you do. This is what divides us from them! Not that were better than them or we desire His grace more! It’s because we believe what the scriptures say about Jesus. See if we speak the truth in love to a lost person like one of the ones I’ve just mentioned a minute ago; they will either become receptive to the message or they become hostile and violent with their words or actions!

THE CAPTIVATED AND THE CONFUSED……………… (V45-V52)

The Captivated

The men who were supposed to arrest Jesus were stunned or fascinated with what He had to say. Look what they said as they returned empty handed “No man ever spoke like this man!”. What they were saying was “This Jesus is more than a man” These men were arrested by the word of God spoken to them by Jesus and rightfully so if your heart has been softened by the power of God through the spoken word. Isn’t that true in your life or mine? You read a passage of scripture and your heart melts or comes under conviction by what you just read. The word of God is powerful to change even the hardest and most stubborn of hearts. “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Heb 4:12. It divides your heart to what is right and wrong! That’s a battle in and of itself as we walk in this Christian life. Remember what Paul said “but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.” Rom 7:23-25. These men were under conviction over what was the right thing to do as opposed to what they were told to do. But sadly this wasn’t good enough for the religious elite crowd, because it only frustrated them more.

The Confused

Jesus caused a great division in the religious circle especially among the leaders. The confused leaders complained and used the excuse….the people don’t understand like we do by using the Law as their pillar for their case against Jesus. “But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed." (v49). John MacArthur said what they mean is “the people were considered damned because they did not belong to the elite group nor follow their beliefs regarding the Law. These were religiously trained Levites and Jesus left them stunned and confused. This truth is no different than today! Many people [even ones who claim to be religious] are confused or stunned by the scriptures. Take for example: A devote Muslim, JW, Mormon don’t know what to really do with Jesus that’s why they have concocted their own idea as the religious leaders did some 2000 years ago. This is why the leaders are so hostile towards Jesus because they couldn't rebuke or explain His claims so they made up their own to accuse Him. All because they couldn't see the truth that Jesus spoke of. Sadly it’s not usually the religious who see Jesus first. It’s the lost soul who desperately needs a Savior.

Did Jesus come to divide? Yes Jesus said “………..I did not come to bring peace but a sword.” Matt 10:34. No matter how you look at Jesus he came to divide…………….. but in a good way!
  • To show us how we can attain eternal life.
  • To show us how we can be reconciled to a holy God through repentance and faith.
  • To show us how we can live as His children.
  • To show us how we can treat and love others no matter the circumstance.
  • To show us how we can love our enemies who hate and oppose the name of Jesus.

He divided us for a good reason! To save you! Remember! You’re either for Him or you’re against Him. To be honest, I would rather be on His side, then be on the opposing side! Wouldn't you? How do I do this when our world, our culture is so divided about the name Jesus? As Howard Hendricks said, "In the midst of a generation screaming for answers, Christians are stuttering." Stand your ground in regard to your faith in Christ, but be loving about it. Continues to go up stream against the current, continues going up the down escalator, continues to follow Jesus when everyone else walks away. "No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." So let me ask you! Are you a true disciple of Christ and have you counted the cost? Are you seeking to imitate Him or are you trying to fit in? Do you fear God more than the world or what your family and friends might think? Are you openly confessing and identifying yourself with Him to others no matter how they think about you? Have or will you forsake your family for Him and the gospel? Are you willing to follow your call even to death? He came to divide you for your good and His glory!

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