I. Present the facts
II. Pray for unity
John 7:40-44 40 On hearing his words, some of the people said, “Surely
this man is the Prophet.” 41 Others said, “He is the Christ.” Still others
asked, “How can the Christ come from Galilee? 42 Does not the Scripture
say that the Christ will come from David’s family and from Bethlehem,
the town where David lived?” 43 Thus the people were divided because of
Jesus. 44 Some wanted to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him.
In the name of Jesus Christ, the Savior for all of us, dear Christian friends,
A game show I watched when I was a kid and have enjoyed watching again as
they brought it back new is To Tell The Truth. There are three contestants who pretend to
be the same person—a person with a little-known but interesting story or success— but
only one, the real one, has been sworn to tell the truth. A celebrity panel asks questions
to try to figure out who is telling the truth.
If you have ever watched the show, you know that after the famous question has
been asked— “now will the real so-and-so please stand up?”— after the “truth-teller” has
been revealed and video clips or live demonstrations of the person doing what they say
they do— like winning a dance championship or walking on Lego bricks— have been
shown, there are no doubts among the celebrities or the audience that the person is who
he says he is.
Why doesn’t it work that way with Jesus? When the question is asked— “now
will the real Savior please stand up?”— and the words and actions of Jesus are revealed,
then why isn’t there acceptance and unity? Is it because there is no audio recording of his
words or videotape of his works? Why is there only division when it comes to believing
who Jesus is?
That is what happened in the section of Scripture before us today. Let’s set the
scene. Jesus had been in Galilee with his brothers who were trying to convince him to go
to Jerusalem in order that many others could see the miracles he was performing. Jesus
had already been there and healed a man who hadn’t walked for thirty-eight years, but
instead of being welcomed and honored, Jesus was persecuted by his own people, the
Jews! Claiming the time was not right to go back there, Jesus held back while his
brothers went on without him for the Feast of Tabernacles. Shortly after they left, he
joined them in Jerusalem, but secretly.
DEAL WITH DIVISION
I. Present the facts
II. Pray for unity
2 There was a buzz of excitement among the festival-goers as people thought Jesus
would be there because Jews were expected to attend this annual event, and Jesus was a
good Jew. We hear earlier in this chapter: “Among the crowds there was widespread
whispering about him. Some said, ‘He is a good man.’ Others replied, ‘No, he
deceives the people.’” (12-13).
Division! Jesus faced it his entire ministry. Some knew him— his family, his
hometown, his profession; others had no clue about him. Some wanted to chill with him;
others wanted to kill him. Some were convinced he was the Messiah sent from God;
others were convinced he was a magician sent from the devil.
Halfway through the Feast, Jesus came out of hiding and taught in the temple
courts. Again, we hear of division among the crowds as to who Jesus was. Some “were
amazed and asked, ‘How did this man get such learning without having studied?’”
and others called him “demon-possessed” (15,20).
So, Jesus did some more teaching: “stop judging by mere appearances and
make a right judgment” (24); “I am not here on my own, but he who sent me is
true” (28); “I am with you for only a short time, and then I go to the one who sent
me” (33); “if anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in
me...streams of living water will flow from within him” (37-38).
Yet, division continued as we heard in today’s reading: On hearing his words,
some of the people said, “Surely this man is the Prophet.” Others said, “He is the
Christ.” Still others asked, “How can the Christ come from Galilee? Does not the
Scripture say that the Christ will come from David’s family and from Bethlehem,
the town where David lived?” Thus the people were divided because of Jesus. Some
wanted to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him.
Jesus dealt with division by presenting the facts about who he was. Those facts
were not always heard. Those facts were not always fully understood, for example they
knew the Christ was to be born in Bethlehem, but only knew Jesus as being from Galilee
because that is where he grew up. Those facts were not always accepted. And
throughout Jesus’ ministry, we hear of his dedicated prayer life which undoubtedly
included prayer for those who did not believe he was the promised Savior.
How do you DEAL WITH DIVISION? As always, we can follow the example of
our Savior and I. Present the facts and II. Pray for unity.
Like the people of Jesus’ day, we still face division about who Jesus is. Like the
ones who called him the prophet, the Jews and Muslims will compare him to a Moses,
from whom we can learn a lot of good things. Like the skeptics who wondered how he
could come from Galilee when Micah said he would come from Bethlehem, the agnostic
will question everything about him because they are not convinced if a God even exists.
Like the ones who wanted to seize Jesus and get rid of him, the atheist will deny him and
want to squash any ideas about him. These people will appear in the face of your
neighbor, in the form of your co-worker and in the person of your closest relative.
Even we are divided internally. We each have a sinful nature that tries to
convince us that Jesus is insignificant, inconsequential, and incapable of saving us. It
conflicts with the new person inside each of us that assures us that only Jesus can be
perfect, forgive and save.
As we face division outside of us and inside of us, how vitally important and
necessary then that we have a Savior who is everything for us— the one who “shared in
[our] humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of
death— that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by
their fear of death...that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.
Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are
being tempted” (Heb 2:14, 17, 18).
As Satan tempts us and others to doubt who Jesus is or deny him as Savior, let’s
present the facts about Jesus. Know your Bible and use it to undo the false teachings that
rise up. Some people won’t listen, others will misunderstand and misinterpret the
Scriptures, and still others will completely dismiss anything you tell them. Let the Holy
Spirit work through the Word to effect change in hearts as he wills.
Let’s pray for unity. You have tried to tell your co-worker about Jesus, you have
invited your friend to worship with you, you have counselled your family member to
walk away from her wickedness, but with little or no success. So, as you still look for
other ways to reach out, pray for that person. Pray that God work through your past
conversations to work saving faith in that person’s heart. Pray that God will give you
another opportunity to speak of his grace with that person. Pray that God will break
down his ignorance or obstinance so he listens to the Word and its saving message.
Will the real Savior please stand up? He already has! He stood up alive from the
grave after dying your death and mine and he now stands up for us to forgive and
strengthen us as we deal with division in our life and the lives of others by presenting the
facts and praying for unity.