What to Do with Jesus?
|John 11 (NKJV™)|
|45||Then many of the Jews who had come to Mary, and had seen the things Jesus did, believed in Him.|
|46||But some of them went away to the Pharisees and told them the things Jesus did.|
|47||Then the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council and said, "What shall we do? For this Man works many signs.|
|48||"If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation."|
|49||And one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, "You know nothing at all,|
|50||"nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish."|
|51||Now this he did not say on his own authority; but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation,|
|52||and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad.|
|53||Then, from that day on, they plotted to put Him to death.|
|54||Therefore Jesus no longer walked openly among the Jews, but went from there into the country near the wilderness, to a city called Ephraim, and there remained with His disciples.|
|55||And the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went from the country up to Jerusalem before the Passover, to purify themselves.|
|56||Then they sought Jesus, and spoke among themselves as they stood in the temple, "What do you think--that He will not come to the feast?"|
|57||Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a command, that if anyone knew where He was, he should report it, that they might seize Him.|
New King James Version®, Copyright © 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.
Any lawyer can tell you that whenever the star witness is a resurrected corpse, you have a pretty good case! But Lazarus being alive from the dead doesn’t seem to persuade everyone. And so the big issue becomes what shall we do with Jesus? The decisions made here set the clock in motion for an impending hate crime—the crucifixion of Christ. But from heaven’s vantage point, this is all part of God’s plan for redemption. Let’s see the responses and how we can make a difference.
"But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name" John 20:31.
Believe:879 is an epic journey through the book of John led by Pastor Skip Heitzig of Calvary of Albuquerque. As we explore each of the 879 verses of this gospel, we'll grow in grace and in our knowledge of Jesus Christ. From His pre-incarnate existence, to His public ministry, through His death and His resurrection we'll traverse familiar territory and embark on new adventures of faith.
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Our choices are powerful and consequential: good or not good. Someone once said, "We make our choices and then our choices turn around and make us." Anytime a notable event happens, it takes time to process. We think it over and frame some kind of decision about that event so we can deal with it.
In his book One Solitary Life, James C. Hefley stated, "I am within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that ever were built, and all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that One Solitary Life." How has He affected people? What are the common choices and decisions people make regarding Him? What do then do with Jesus? How can we help them make the right choice?
Greek Terms: Συνέδριον - sunedrion Sanhedrin , seventy ruling elders of the Jews
Figures Referenced: A.W. Tozer; William Barclay; Edmund Burke; Voltaire
Publications Referenced: One Solitary Life by James C. Hefley; The Unexpected Adventure: Taking Everyday Risks to Talk with People about Jesus By Lee Strobel and Mark Mittleberg; The Antichrist By Friedrich Nietzsche
Cross References: Psalm 2:2-4; Psalm 76:10; Proverbs 19:25; Matthew 5:13-15; Matthew 10:34; Matthew 12:30; Luke 16:31; John 6:66; John 9:13
Would you turn in your Bibles to John Chapter 11. I know that sounds like a rerun but I promise you it's the last time you'll hear me say that for sometime, John Chapter 11. We finish it up. Let's pray together one more time.
Father in heaven, we pause before we open the book because it's our way of saying we depend on you, we submit ourselves to you, we gladly remain under the principles of truth that we're about to discover. Many of these truths we have heard and we know, but many of them have not been appropriated by us. Help us to do that, Lord. And the reason we're here, the reason we gather to worship, the reason come week by week and read this book and sing these songs is because it's our way of saying we need you every hour. And like Peter said, "Where else would we go? You alone have the words of eternal life."
As we examine this portion, part of our worship is that we listen to what your spirit might be saying. We are determined to sit undistracted and listen and focus, Lord, on these great truths from this incredible Book of John. Thank you for his testimony and his life, in Jesus' name. Amen.
Our choices are both powerful and consequential. I know that you can all think back to choices that you made in your life and you thought that was a good choice and I bet there are some others that you wish you could have a do over because you don't think they're really that good.
Somebody once said we make our choices and that our choices turn around and they make us. When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead and everybody who saw that now had to make a choice. The choice is what are we going to do with Jesus? What will we now say about him? What will our decision be concerning him in light of what we just saw because the last thing they expected to see was that dead Lazarus get up from the grave.
I heard a story of an airline that landed in Dallas, Texas. And the baggage handlers went to the special part of the aircraft where special baggage is kept and they found an animal carrier and inside was a dog, but it was a dead dog. Well, they panicked and they thought a lawsuit was impending. So they went and told the owner whose name was written on the dog carrier, they said, "You know, your dog has been sent to a different destination. We messed up but we're tracking it and we promise we'll get him back and we'll deliver the dog to your house later on in the day."
In the meantime, they disposed off the dead animal and they bought a brand new, live, same sized dog and put in the crate. Thinking they were in the clear, they delivered the dog to the woman's house in the afternoon, she took one look in the crate and she said, "That is not my dog. My dog is dead and I was bringing it home for burial."
Oops. The last thing that woman expected to see was an alive dog. And the last thing the people in Bethany were expecting to see was an alive Lazarus. It's the last thing they expected. Now anytime a notable event happens, it takes time to process that event. We have to get our minds around that incredible event, we cogitate, we mull over it, and we then we frame some kind of a decision about that event that happened so that we can deal with it.
Now in this case, the star witness is a resurrected corpse and they can see that he's alive. He's eating in the café across the street. What will they do with that star witness? You would think that with that kind of evidence this would be an open and shut case, everybody's going to follow Christ after this who saw it. That is not the case. That is not the case.
In his classical book One Solitary Life, James Hefley wrote, "I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that were ever built, all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned put together have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has this one solitary life." speaking of Christ.
I believe he's right. No one has affected life on the earth like Jesus, but how has he affected, how has this one solitary life affected people? What are the common ways that people deal with Christ? What are common choices, decisions that people make regarding him? What do they do with him? And how can we help them make the right choice? Is that even possible? All of that is tucked away I believe at least in seed form, in nascent form in this last paragraph of John Chapter 11. You're about to read the sequel of the resurrection of Lazarus. It's the sequel. It's what happens now. It's what they do now. This is the effect of that.
Verse 45, "Then many of the Jews would come to Mary and had seen the things Jesus did believed in him. But some of them went away to the Pharisees and told them the things Jesus did. Then the chief priest and the Pharisees gathered a council and said, "What shall we do for this man works many signs? If we let him alone like this, everyone will believe in him and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation." And one of them Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, "You know nothing at all nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people and not that the whole nation should perish."
Now this he did not say on his own authority, but being high priest that year, he prophesized that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for that nation only, but also that he would gather together in one the children of God who scattered abroad.
Then from that day on, they plotted to put him to death. Therefore, Jesus no longer walked openly among the Jews, but went from there into the country near the wilderness to a city called Ephraim and there remained with his disciples. And the Passover of the Jews was near and many went from the country up to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves.
Then they saw Jesus and spoke among themselves as they stood in the temple. What do you think? That he will not come to the feast? Now both the chief priest and the Pharisees had given a command that if anyone knew where he was, he should report it that they might seize him.
I've given you three words in your worship folder that sum up this last paragraph and I've attached principles. The three words are division, discussion, determination, those three words sum up the sequel of the resurrection of Lazarus. Division, discussion, determination, but I want to hang our thoughts on the principles that emerged from those words and here's the first one.
People are divided over Christ. They were then, they are now. I want you to notice in verse 45, it says, "Many," notice that word, "Many of the Jews who had come to Mary and had seen the things Jesus did believed in him." We're not surprised with that. They saw a resurrection and they saw with their eyes and processed the event in their minds and thus they believed in their heart, which is the theme of the Gospel of John that we might believe. So John writes and we're not surprised when we find in every chapter this group believed, this group did not believe, it's all about belief.
Many believe what we are surprised, at least I am, is the next verse, but some of them went away to the Pharisees and told them the things Jesus did. Implying some did not believe, many believed, some did not and those that did not went in snitch to the Pharisees. That's surprising. After seeing such a miracle as a resurrection, wouldn't you expect to read and all of them believed in Jesus after seeing this.
Now if this were an evangelistic crusade that we were reading about and the evangelist got up and called people forward, I would have expected to read and many believed in Jesus but some did not. If this was a church service and the teacher or preacher is giving a message and calls for a response, I wouldn't be surprised to read "Many believed, some did not." Or if this group, if it said, "And they heard" not seen. "They heard that a guy named Lazarus was raised from the dead. I would have expected to read "Many believed, but some did not."
But to see a resurrection with your own eyes, to witness a once putrefying, decaying corpse get up and move and have new flesh and life again, you would expect to read that all believed. How is it that they didn't all believe after seeing this? This is interesting to me. It can only be one answer. It's the hardness of the human heart that rejects an alien will ruling over them. That's the bottom line. It didn't matter what miracle a hardened heart sees, they'll interpret it differently. Often unbelievers accuse Christians of being predisposed to believe, "They believe anything." You kind of want to believe. That's the accusation.
Well, I would contend that unbelievers don't believe because they're predisposed to not believing. So it doesn't matter what they hear or what they see. The miracle itself isn't enough to do the trick. There are great examples of that in the Bible. Children of Israel, what did they see? Well, to start out, they saw a body of water open up. I've never seen that. They saw that. They saw men that had come from heaven everyday. I've never seen that. They saw that. Water came from a rock. I've never seen that. They saw that. Everyday and every night there was this pillar of cloud and fire that would lead them to the wilderness.
You know what the Bible says though? It says, "But they hardened their heart." They hardened their heart. How about a few chapters back when Jesus fed the multitudes with a loaves and fish? They were so excited to have a free lunch. But once Jesus started preaching truth, right after that free lunch it says in the Bible, "Many went back and walked with him no more."
And here's the classic example. Jesus tells a story in his own words. He says there was a rich guy and there was a poor beggar and both of them died and the rich guy went to Hades and the poor beggar went to Abraham's bosom and was comforted. And in torment, the rich guy cried out, "Father Abraham, send that poor beggar, rise him from the dead, raise him from the dead and send him back home to my father and my brothers because they'll believe if they saw a miracle like that."
Jesus said that Abraham said, "Oh no, they won't, they have Moses and the prophets." If they won't listen to them, here it is, if they won't listen to them, neither will they be persuaded the one rises from the dead. Lazarus has risen from the dead and this group won't believe in him.
According to Princeton University Religion Research Center, they issued a statement and they asked people to respond to the statement, "Do you agree with the statement? Do you not agree with the statement?"
Here's the statement by Princeton. Even today, miracles are performed by the power of God. That was the statement and then they asked, "Do you agree or disagree?" Even today miracles are performed by the power of God.
How many do you think in that poll agreed? You might be surprised, 82% of American adults in that poll agreed that even today miracles are performed by the power of God. I've got to tell you something, 82% of American adults do not follow Christ. Though they may make a statement like that, miracles don't cause belief if the heart is hardened against God. They may reinterpret it a number of ways.
Now you'll notice that this group didn't just not believe, they went to the Pharisees and snitched. They told the whole event to the Pharisees. "You wouldn't believe what happened. Let me just tell you what happened." Why did they do that? It's curious but we've seen it before. I want to remind you of it. Few chapters back, John Chapter 9, Jesus heals a blind guy. As soon as the blind guy is healed, some of them the Bible says, "They brought the man who is formerly blind to the Pharisees." Same idea.
They brought the blind guy to the Pharisees. Here, they tell the Pharisees about Lazarus. It's as if they're afraid to do anything or believe anything unless that it's sanctioned by the religious authority. The religious authority has to tell me if it's okay for me to believe I saw this miracle.
I wanted this so bad when I as 18 years age. I was asked to stand in front of a catholic synod. I grew up in the church. It was a group convening priests and nuns. See, they had all heard that there was a group of young kids who were turned on to Jesus Christ and read their Bibles and were in love with Jesus. And there was this Jesus movement and they wanted to get their minds around that event.
So they asked me to appear before this synod, priest, nuns, and lay leaders including my own dad. So I told my testimony of what happened to me and I was just so excited for the opportunity to tell them about Jesus and what he did in my life. And the only response I got is, "Well, the official position of the church is..." And so I'd go on and tell them a few more things that I read in the Bible and how excited I am about Jesus and "Well, the church officially teaches that."
And honestly at 18, I didn't care what the church officially taught. I cared about what God officially thought and said. But sometimes we are so afraid to do anything at all unless it's sanctioned by the authority that we deem the authority. Now that's not a bad idea. It's good to have accountability, but if the authority doesn't match what the book says and you're more caring about the authority rather than what God says, that's a problem.
Here's the mistake. The mistake is to live your spiritual life through the lens of other people's approval. That's a mistake. Well what would they think or what would they say? The Bible says in Proverbs 29, "The fear of man brings a snare." A better translation, "The fear of man is a dangerous trap."
Sometimes people will ask me after a service or between services or during the week, they say, "Skip, what is the Calvary's official position on this person or that belief?" And I always think that's the wrong question. A better question is what is your personal conviction based upon the truth of God's word? What does the Bible say? What is the official position of the church or my official position is irrelevant, who cares. What the Bible says is most important.
You see, people are a lot like boats. They don't do well when directly pushed by winds behind them into one direction. So there is division. People are divided over Jesus. That's not always a bad thing. In fact, Jesus said, "Don't think I've come to bring peace on earth. I haven't come to bring peace but a sword to divide people." And the reason for that is when people are divided over Jesus clearly, then that person knows where they stand. There's no ambiguity at all that's why Jesus said things like, "If you're not for me, you are against me. If you don't help gather, then you actually scatter. If you're not part of this process, then you are working against it."
So he divided people. People are divided over Christ. Here's the second principle. People will often discuss Christ. Now there's a discussion going on here. In fact there are two discussions. The first discussion is a leadership meeting in verse 47 down to verse 50. The elite leaders of the Jewish religion have gathered together to discuss Jesus.
The second discussion are on the streets of Jerusalem beginning in verse 55 to 57, notice that. These are people bantering back and forth. The discussion is about Christ. What do we do with him? And some are afraid that if we let him go, it's bad news. Others are cold calculated, want to do amend. We'll read that. We'll get there in a minute. And in the last discussion they're sort of indifferent. It's like, "Well, yeah, I'm interested but I'm not committed."
Look at verse 47, the first discussion. "Then the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council." Stop, the word council is the Greek word Synedrion, we get the translation the Sanhedrin, you've heard that term, yes? It's the 70 ruling elders of the Jews. That's the council Synedrion. Probably this is the sub-committee of the 70, the official representatives of the Sanhedrin in a smaller meeting. They gathered a council and they said, "What shall we do?"
Board meetings and council meetings always start with that question. What do we do now? We gathered together, we got to do something, what do we do? This man works many signs. Notice, they don't deny the miracle. They can't deny the miracle. There's Lazarus eating a falafel across the street. He's alive. They don't deny it, but now they got to deal with it.
If we let him alone like this, everyone will believe in him. Boy, that would be great, wouldn't it? And the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation. And one of them, Caiaphas being high priest that year said to them, "You know nothing at all nor do you consider that it's expedient for us that one man should die for the people and not that the whole nation should perish." Now this he did not say in his own authority, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation. Not only for that nation, but also that he would gather together in one the children of God who are scattered abroad.
Okay, what are they discussing? They're discussing Jesus in relation to their politics and religion. What will we do with Jesus in terms of our politics and religion? Let me explain. Notice the words chief priests. Chief priest were Sadducees. There were two basic parties Pharisees and Sadducees. These are the Sadducees.
Now the Sadducees really weren't spiritual people. Honestly, they were very liberal in their thinking. They did not believe in the Bible, the Old Testament, except for the first five books of Moses. They didn't believe in angels. They didn't believe in sprits and here's the clincher, they did not believe in resurrection. They didn't believe in it.
They were political figures more than religious figures. They were rich. They were the aristocracy of Jerusalem. They closely bowed to whatever Rome wanted to keep the position, their position, and their money in tact. Those were the Sadducees.
Next, you'll notice Pharisees. These were not political. They were very strictly religious. They believed all of the Bible and even the oral writings about the Old Testament. They were very strict. But here's what's important. You got Sadducees and Pharisees together. Why is that odd? Because they hated each other, they hated each other. They didn't get along at all. But they hated Jesus more than they hated each other and they were willing to settle their differences and get together in council against Jesus because they hated him so much that their hatred for him was more than their hatred for each other. Here's their bottom line.
Their bottom line is we can't let Jesus get in the way of our interests. We can't let Jesus ruin our cause. Their politics and their status were at stake and to them that was more important than spiritual truth or eternal life. This is not so different than today. Some people use Jesus as a pawn, a puppet to further their cause.
I'm always interested when a movie star or a rock star receives an award and goes, "I want to thank God." And that could be a good thing. Maybe they really thank God, but I'm always curios what is your definition of God? What is your relationship with God like? Because sometimes God is thrown out because other people who really are followers of God now become fans of anybody who says that. They just garnered more support.
I'm always interested that during election time, politicians bring out the God card, the Jesus card, the church card, the spiritual card because they know that it will get more votes. They should be aware of what A.W. Tozer wrote and he said, "Whoever seeks God as a means toward a desired end will not find God. God will not be used." So that's that first discussion. What do we do with Jesus? What's cool is in the middle of the discussion comes a few words by Caiaphas, who is a Sadducee, a high priest, a few words that articulate a clear, biblical, truth of the atoning sacrifice of Christ on the cross.
Now what Caiaphas said was blasphemous. It was sinister. He was saying, "Look, you guys, you don't know anything at all. Don't you get it? It's simple. Either Jesus has to die or this nation is going to die. Either we kill him or we're all gone, this place, the temple, our nation, our position, its expedient that one man die for the nation."
John writes a footnote. What he did know is that God turned the blasphemy into a prophecy that articulated the substitutionary death of Jesus for the nation, but not only the nation but for the world that all the sons of God who are scattered abroad would be gathered together. So he writes that footnote.
Here's the big point I want to get across. All around us are discussions going on everyday, all the time, in coffee shops every morning, in the gym that you workout in, in the bank line that you do your business at, in cafes and restaurants discussions are going on and they are discussions about everything, politics, economics, aging parents, technology, and spirituality. People are discussing spirituality. They're discussing it in all those places. They're discussing it online. And I've discovered that most people because sometimes I'll overhear conversations before I butt into them.
I'll hear people talk about spirituality, talk about Jesus or talk about God and I noticed that they're vocal and they're not afraid to express their opinion. They're not afraid. So why should we be afraid? To weigh in on the ongoing discussion and that's my plea, weigh in on the discussion. I found out that the average human being in an average lifetime will speak an average of 370,110,001 words in a lifetime. That translates out to be according to this research for males. They will speak a little over 6000 words a day, for females around almost 9000. I'm not going to go there. That's the research.
The point I want to make is how about allocating some of those words to weigh in on this discussion. How about saying some of the words that come out of my mouth will be words telling others about the savior, looking for opportunities?
In a little book that I got from Lee Strobel, he wrote it called "The Unexpected Adventure." He writes, "Anyone who has ever read the Bible knows that God wants to be involved with spreading good news far and wide. There's nothing more fulfilling than seeing ordinary people turned into extraordinary followers of God, atheists who become missionaries, once wayward kids who are now inspired worship leaders, hardened inmates who become compassionate pastors, former drug abusers who rescued the lives and souls of addicts. Is there anything better that somehow, in some way God might take this seemingly routine day and surprise me with an opportunity to tell someone about the good news that has the power to turn their life inside and out?" Weigh in on the discussion.
So those are the first two words that sum up the sequel. Division, people are divided over Christ. Discussion, people are discussing Christ. Here's the third, determination. Verse 53 and 54 are the verses I want to use to bring this to a close, verse 53. "Then from that day on they plotted to put him, Jesus, to death. Therefore Jesus could not longer walk openly among the Jews, but went from there into the country near the wilderness to a city called Ephraim and there he remained with his disciples."
Now this official edict, if you want to call it that, this decision begins the time clock toward the cross. It is this decision that begins the countdown, sets the gears in motion for a hate crime, kill Jesus. Get rid of Jesus. It's interesting. This proves that they had already decided on the case before it went to trial. The trial won't be for several chapters. They've already decided on the case, kill him. It was a hung jury.
Why did they agree to this? Why do they want to get rid of Jesus? Why this determination? Because they said we want to save this place, our nation and this place. We want to save our nation. We want to be patriotic. Get rid of Jesus so we can save our country. Question, did it work? Did they save their country? No, they didn't. Boy, did it backfire because what happened, though they eliminated Christ, they thought -- see three days later he came back. He came back from the dead. And that started a firestorm they were unprepared to deal with.
As people all over Jerusalem by the thousands converted to follow Christ after even he ascended into heaven. And they started telling everybody else so much so that the Jews expelled them from their lands, but this independent spirit, this rebellious spirit started fomenting around the people and among the people so that Rome, in 70 A.D., came in to call(ph) that, destroying their city and destroying their temple.
Josepha said the destruction was so bad you couldn't even tell a temple once stood there. You could pull a plow on the temple mount. They destroyed it.
William Barkley puts it this way, the very steps they took to save their nation were the steps that destroyed their nation. "We've got to save our nation, let's kill Jesus." They eliminate Jesus, he comes back from the dead, makes things worse. Now, the temple is destroyed and the city is destroyed. It didn't work.
Okay, here's a piece of information that I don't want you to miss. John wrote this book, we believe around 90 A.D. The temple was destroyed about 70 A.D. It means 20 years past from the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple to the first readers of this gospel of John. And you know they could see the irony in that as they read, "Huh, those guys wanted to kill Jesus to save their temple and save their nation and it's been destroyed for 20 years. Meanwhile, Christianity has spread everywhere."
Some folks are determined to get rid of Jesus. History is filled with those decisions and filled with their schemes and filled with their vitriol. Rome blamed the atrocities of their nation on the Christians, fed them to the lions, burned at the stake, Caesar Nero would take believers and tie them to poles and pour tar on them while they're alive and set them to flames so they would be torches for his garden at night until they died.
He took the carcasses of animals, gathered the animals, put believes inside, sewed it up and let dogs, wild dogs hack them to pieces. Molten led was poured on them on and on and on. Years later, the emperor Diocletian came in and another wave of hatred and persecution erupted. Ministers were in prison, killed, churches destroyed, but the more they were attacked, the more they grew and they couldn't get rid of them and let's kill them, they grew, let's get them, and they grew. So much so that eventually, the world view of Christianity became the dominant view in the Roman Empire.
Some people are determined against Christ and it continued through history. The 16th century saw men like Friedrich Nietzsche who wrote a book called Anti-Christ -- he wrote a lot of books, but one called Anti-Christ in which he called Christians sick animals, despicable animals. He said a lot of things that I don't have time to tell you about.
In the 18th century, the French outspoken Atheist, Voltaire said, "Christianity is the most ridiculous absurd bloody religion that has even infected the world." He said, he predicted that his writings would so change Europe, his, Voltaire's writings, would so change Europe and eliminate Christianity from the European continent.
What is ironic, I am told one of the stories is that within 20 years of his death, the Geneva Bible Society bought his home and used it as a center to distribute Bibles through Europe. So ironic. I love what Psalms 76 says, "Surely even the wrath of man will praise thee 'O Lord." Even the wrath of man will praise Him.
Now today, we are faced with what we could call a New Atheism. It's new, it's new and improved, it's repackaged but it's one the move. In fact, it's changing the way America thinks. Up until now, it's been really fractional but things are changing. And you can tell their changing by how many weeks on the New York Times Best Seller List, let me rephrase that, how many months some of these Atheistic books are at the top of the charts. It means a lot of people are buying them and reading them, outspoken against Christianity, wanting to eliminate it altogether.
Books by Richard Dawkins, and Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and on, they're coming, they're here. If you oppose Christ, you stand in the ignominious company of people like Pontius Pilate, Caiaphas, Caesar Nero, and Diocletian. You just got to know something; whatever you're trying won't work. It's been tried, didn't work. In fact, the more you push, God just has ways to make it grow bigger.
In Psalm 2, listen to this, it's just set up so neatly. Psalm 2, I'll read it to you. "The kings of the earth prepare for battle, the rules plot together against the Lord and against his anointed one. Let us break their chains, they cry, and free ourselves from this slavery but the one who rules in heaven lasts." The Lord scuffs at them. Get the picture? Here's man, shaking his fist to God and God goes, "Whatever. Bring it on."
I want you to look at one last text as we close and we'll close with this. Turn to Mathew Chapter 5. I want you to look at the verses because with all that we just said, we now come to what this means to us. What do we as believers do?
Mathew 5, Sermon on the Mount. Jesus says in verse 13, "You are the salt of the earth but if the salt looses its flavor how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world, a city that has set on a hill cannot be hidden nor did they light a lamp and put it under a basket but put it on a lamp stand and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let you light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."
There are two metaphors that Jesus used that not only describe his followers, but imply something about the world. If you are salt, it's because the world is corrupt, the chief use of salt 2,000 years ago was to be rubbed in the meat to prevent decay. Him using that metaphor, "You're the salt of the earth" implies, without you, this world is going to decay faster than it would if you were present.
And then the second one, "You are light" implies that the world is what? Dark. So salt stops corruption, salt adds flavor, and salt quenches thirst. Question, does that describe you? Light dispels darkness and light shows the way out of darkness. Does that describe you? I think you know where I'm going with this. I'd sum it all up by saying this, be engaged. Be engaged in this. You all know probably that famous statement by Edmund Burke who said, "The only thing necessarily for evil to occur or for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." I would rephrase that a little bit for our purpose, the only thing needed for evil abound and Satan to triumph is for God's men and women to say and do nothing. Be engaged.
I heard about a company that makes blank bumper stickers. It's for people that don't want to be involved. You can't do that. You can't do that. You know why you can't do that? You can't do that because even among the most ardent unbelieving group, there might be a defector or two. Did you know that in that council, sitting in the council that made the decision "Let's kill him" has had a couple of members that were defectors. Joseph of Arimathea was on the Sanhedrin, he will defect. Nicodemus who came to Jesus by night will defect. Defectors among unbelievers.
So, I'll sum it up by saying this. People are divided over Christ. So make sure you're very, very for him. Number two, people often discuss Christ. So weigh-in on the discussion, it will be great adventure. And number three, people are often determined against Christ. Don't let that scare you. Live to see defectors. Are there any letters you need to write or e-mails you need to send or friends you need to invite over to your house for a backyard barbeque to discuss spiritual things, seeds that could be sown? Maybe so. Be engaged.
And could it be also that you just sort of had enough of that unbelieving world because all the philosophies and world views that they position in posture and poise don't really do anything for you. They run their course so quickly, they add such a depressing element to them, there's no fulfillment, there's no future, there's no hope in them and maybe you're thinking, "Yeah, I want to defect from the kingdom on darkness and come to the light." I hope so.
Let's pray. Heavenly Father, we thank you that John gave to us the sequel that shows us how people process the event and what they thought about it, what they believed about it, what to do with Jesus because it gives to us a pattern that we find to be very similar in our own contemporary generations of how people respond to Christ even today, very, very similar. It helps us know who they are, what they talk about, what they think about, and to do about it. I pray you help us not to be postured. I know those of us in church work can get so introspective and introverted in just about our business rather than about the family business, kingdom business, to go into all the world and preach the gospel business.
Lord, I pray that we would be at least open this week to using some of our words to weigh in the discussion in a compelling way. I pray for anyone, Lord, who's gathered here this morning who doesn't know Christ. They're tired of the darkness, they're tired of the uncertainty, they're tired of the question marks, they'd like more certitude, more reality.
Lord, open their hearts and help them to defect from the kingdom of darkness. In Jesus' name, Amen.