What Will You Do With Jesus?

Bible Book: John  7 : 1-31
Subject: Decisions; Jesus; Choices
Series: That You May Believe

November is rapidly approaching which means two things here in America. First, the beauty of the fall season is right around the corner. In fact, the leaves are already changing color on our street but in just a few days...perhaps a week...they will be at their peak. And I’m sure the same could be said about the street where you live. Soon we’ll drive through our neighborhoods and “ooooh” and “ahhh” as we see the glory of God displayed on every leaf—like in this picture. I love this time of the year!

But unfortunately the onslaught of November means something else—namely—election day is near. So, beneath the trees that are soon to be filled with orange, red, and yellow leaves there are scenes like this one...yards filled with dozens of signs—signs encouraging you to vote for everything from the register of wills to the governor of the state. On top of this our newscasts are packed with polls about the various political races and our televisions are filled with commercials from all these candidates. I don’t know about you but these days I have to keep wiping our TV screen clean...because of all the mudslinging that goes on in these TV ads.

And speaking of that, the other day as I watched two back-to-back ads for Maryland’s gubernatorial candidates I thought, “These days political candidates have to have a lot of guts.”

I mean, think about it. The minute you put your hat in the ring, your life is put under the microscope for everyone to see. From then on people will scrutinize everything from your voting record to your driving record. They will carefully examine your family life, your spiritual life, your stand on every issue under the sun. Then—based on their scrutinizing and examining—the accusations will begin. Some will say you don’t care about the poor; others will say you care too much about the poor. Some will say you don’t have the right morals. Some will say you have too many morals. Some will say you’re too conservative. Others will say you’re too liberal.

I mean, I would NEVER want to go through all that. All the money in the world wouldn’t be enough to pay me to run for any public office. I’d much rather be a pastor. Sure, you get a negative comment on a sermon every once in a while but I can handle that.


Well, I bring all this up because this week in my study of chapter 7 of John’s gospel I got this feeling of deja vu. As I read I kept thinking, “This sounds so familiar! Why is that?” It was then that I realized the reason I felt this way is the fact that the people’s comments about Jesus in this chapter...well, they sound very similar to the kinds of things we say about people running for public office. I mean, Jesus gets advice on what He needs to do to “keep His polls up.” Others criticize Him for everything from the place He grew up...to the fact that He healed on the Sabbath. They question His education, His parentage, and His motives. Take your Bibles and turn to John 7 and listen as I read. verses 1-20, and 27-31.

1 - After this, Jesus went around in Galilee, purposely staying away from Judea because the Jews there were waiting to take His life.

2 - But when the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near,

3 - Jesus’ brothers said to Him, “You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that Your disciples may see the miracles You do.

4 - No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since You are doing these things, show Yourself to the world.”

5 - For even His own brothers did not believe in Him.

6 - Therefore Jesus told them, “The right time for Me has not yet come; for you any time is right.

7 - The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify that what it does is evil.

8 - You go to the Feast. I am not yet going up to this Feast, because for Me the right time has not yet come.”

9 - Having said this, He stayed in Galilee.

10 - However, after His brothers had left for the Feast, He went also, not publicly, but in secret.

11 - Now at the Feast the Jews were watching for Him and asking, “Where is that Man?”

12 - Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about Him. Some said, “He is a good man.” Others replied, “No, He deceives the people.”

13 - But no one would say anything publicly about Him for fear of the Jews.

14 - Not until halfway through the Feast did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach.

15 - The Jews were amazed and asked, “How did this Man get such learning without having studied?”

16 - Jesus answered, “My teaching is not My own. It comes from Him Who sent Me.

17 - If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether My teaching comes from God or whether I speak on My own.

18 - He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.

19 - Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill Me?”

20 - “You are demon-possessed,” the crowd answered. “Who is trying to kill You?”

27 - We know where this Man is from; when the Christ comes, no one will know where He is from.

28 - Then Jesus, still teaching in the temple courts, cried out, “Yes, you know Me, and you know where I am from. I am not here on My own, but He Who sent Me is true. You do not know Him,

29 - but I know Him because I am from Him and He sent Me.”

30 - At this they tried to seize Him, but no one laid a hand on Him, because His time had not yet come.

31 - Still, many in the crowd put their faith in Him. They said, “When the Christ comes, will He do more miraculous signs than this Man?”

Okay—let me back up a bit and give you the setting. The things we just read about occurred six months after the feeding of the 5,000 and the great discourse that followed when Jesus said He was the Bread of Life. You’ll remember that after Jesus’ sermon—many of the great multitudes...including many of His own disciples who had followed Him everywhere He went...ceased to follow Him. All His words about suffering and sacrifice were too much for them. So they left. In the opening words of chapter seven John says that things have gotten worse because now there was actually a hint of murder in the air...because the Jewish leaders in Judea were looking for a way to get rid of Jesus for good.

John also tells us that the Feast of the Tabernacles is at hand. This particular feast of Israel occurred in early October. It was seven days in length and its purpose was to celebrate their ancestors’ journey from Egypt to the promised land. During this time the inhabitants of Jerusalem built booths out of tree limbs which they used to build shelters, and families actually moved out of their houses and lived in them. This was to remind them that for forty years their forefathers had wandered as pilgrims in the wilderness and lived in tents. The temple area was illumined by large candlesticks during this feast to remind the people of the guiding pillar of fire; and each day the priests would carry water from the Pool of Siloam and pour it out as a way of reminding the Jews of the miraculous provision of water from the rock.

Well, when the time for this feast drew near, Jesus’ four half-brothers came to Him. Matthew tells us their names. First there was James and Jude, who after they came to faith were to write two of the letters of the New Testament. The other two were named Joses and Simon. Jesus also had sisters (at least two) but their names are not given in the New Testament. So if anyone ever tries to tell you that Mary remained a perpetual virgin—show them these texts. The Bible plainly says that after Jesus’ birth, God blessed Mary and Joseph with at least six children of their own.

Well these four half-siblings had apparently set themselves up as Jesus’ self-appointed campaign managers. I mean, their advice is the kind you hear being given to every political candidate in this election year: They said, in effect, “You need a larger arena, Jesus. Galilee is too small for You. Why stay here in the sticks? You need to get down to Judea, to Jerusalem. That’s the capital, the heart of the country. Further more, Your Judean base needs to see You again. Their faith needs to be supported and reinforced by witnessing miracles like the ones You have been doing up here. And by the way—You are being wasted out here. You need to get out of the back country and show yourself to the world.”

Well, Jesus went to Jerusalem for the feast—but not with his fraternal campaign managers. He sent them on ahead and came later—secretly. He did it this way because it was not yet time for Him to be crucified. That would come at another feast in six months time—the feast of the Passover. Jesus knew that already there was the constant danger of assassination in Jerusalem. He knew that as long as He remained hidden, no enemy could find Him. So He entered the city without attracting attention, blending with the crowds. Meanwhile a hushed anticipation stirred debate among the people. Everybody wondered where He was and when He would show up. Some favored Him—but they kept their comments as quiet as possible for fear of being overheard by the temple officials.

Well, Jesus didn’t reveal Himself until the feast was half over when He stood up in front of a crowd and began to teach, knowing that the officials wouldn’t do anything in public. Now—as we look at this text, I think the ironic thing is we still hear the same kind of comments about Jesus that the people at this feast made about Him. I once heard the doctrine of ELECTION explained like this. God votes for you. The devil votes against you—and you cast the deciding vote. Well, people who have wrestled with what to do with Jesus...and have decided to cast a “NO VOTE”...well they justify their decision by saying the same kinds of things the people said here in chapter 7.

(1) Some Said Jesus was a Good Man

For example, in verse 12 John tells us that some people said Jesus was a GOOD MAN.

They wouldn’t go so far as to say that Jesus was the Messiah—God become flesh—but they would agree that He was a good guy. After all He had been going around for three years doing all kinds of GOOD things, healing the sick, feeding the hungry—things like that.

And—we do still find people who have that opinion of Jesus. They won’t profess their faith that He is the Christ—the Son of God—but they will say that He was a good man. Even the Muslims would say as much—to the point that they revere Jesus as a great teacher. In fact this is one RARE thing that the Muslims and Jews agree on. They both believe Jesus was an especially good guy. But, as Christ-followers—as people who know Jesus personally—we can’t really go along with this first statement. I mean, we know you can’t say that Jesus was JUST a good man. Why is that? Well, it’s because of the nature of Jesus’ TEACHINGS. You see, one of the most obvious things about the things Jesus taught was what John Stott calls, “their egocentric character.” In other words, Jesus’ teachings were all wrapped up in Himself.

For example, He called God His Father. He even had a special word for God, “Abba” — which is our equivalent of “daddy.”
Jesus also said that because of what He would accomplish on the cross—and ONLY because of that—other people could enjoy that personal kind of relationship with God as well.
The egocentric character of Jesus’ teachings is also seen in the great “I AM” sayings, “I am the Bread of life” or “I am the light of the world” ...or “I am the way, the truth, and the life” or “I am the Gate.”
As part of His teaching, Jesus called men and women to follow Him and sent them out on a world-encompassing evangelistic ministry.

The things Jesus said were so egocentric that He repeatedly said He considered the Old Testament Scriptures to be written about Him.

Do you remember when He read from the prophet Isaiah in Nazareth...that passage of Messianic prophecy where it says, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” After Jesus read these words He closed the scroll and said, “Today, this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:21) In other words, “This prophecy is referring to ME.”

Well let me ask, would He be—COULD He be—a GOOD man—and say these kinds of things—DO these kinds of things—if they weren’t true? I don’t think so. By the way, Jesus also said He had the authority to forgive sins. No mere man can do that—no matter HOW good He is.

Another thing—He repeatedly claimed to be God. Could He be good—and make that claim if it were not factual? Would a GOOD man tell people He was the Messiah if he weren’t? Again...I don’t think so. I mean, really you can’t say that Jesus was JUST a good man. That statement won’t fly.

In his classic book, Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis once spoke of this. He said,

“I am trying to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Jesus, namely, ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this Man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

This brings to mind other things the people said about Jesus that day—things they still say. I mean, some have said He was a good man...

(2) Some Said Jesus was a DECEIVER

...but in verse 12 others said that Jesus was a DECEIVER...that He was trying to trick people into believing He was the Messiah.

And we still hear people saying the same basic thing: that Jesus was out to fool men deliberately. In their opinion, He wanted to con people into following Him as the long-awaited Messiah—when in reality He was just a man. And before I deal with this one, we have to admit that if Jesus really was a deceiver, He was certainly the BEST deceiver who ever lived. I mean, no Jew would ever think of making that claim. Remember, they were the only nation who believed in ONE GOD—so for a man to claim to be God—as Jesus repeatedly did—was just not done. The amazing thing though is that Jesus got Jewish people to believe His claim. Lots of people—men, women, peasants and sophisticates, priests, even eventually members of His own family. So if Jesus was a deceiver, He was the best!

On the other hand, as Boice points out—if He was a deceiver—Jesus was also the WORST kind because He deceived people into thinking He was God. He tricked them into entrusting their eternal destiny with Him. He said people could count on Him to remove their sins and get them to Heaven—wonderful news—but only if it is true. If it is not true, then we are of all men the most miserable and as Lewis says, Jesus Christ should be hated as a fiend of Hell....because if it is not true, Jesus has condemned generations of gullible followers to a hopeless eternity. But of course, it is true! I mean, saying Jesus was a deceiver—that viewpoint doesn’t fly either because it doesn’t coincide with what we know of Jesus or the results of His life and teachings. Josh McDowell writes, “Wherever Jesus has been proclaimed, lives have been changed for the good, nations have changed for the better, thieves are made honest, alcoholics are cured, hateful individuals become channels of love, unjust persons become just.” I mean, it just doesn’t make sense that someone whose entire ministry was based on deceit would have that kind of impact on people down through the ages.

William Lecky, one of Great Britains most noted historians, refers to Jesus’ ministry and says, “The simple record of these three short years of active life has done more to regenerate and soften mankind than all the disquisitions of philosophers...and all the exhortations of moralists.” The point is this. Someone Who lived as Jesus lived, taught as Jesus taught, and died as Jesus died, could not have been a liar. Deceit on that magnitude is just not a sufficient foundation to do all that...PLUS deceivers don’t die for their lies. I’m sure if Jesus were some crafty trickster He would have told the Jewish leaders as they beat Him, “Hey...I was just kidding!”

(3) Some said Jesus was a LUNATIC

Then, in verse 20 we see another viewpoint. Some said Jesus was a LUNATIC.

They said, “You are demon-possessed—you’re out of your mind! Who is trying to kill You?”

And there are people who still think, “If Jesus wasn’t a liar—then isn’t it possible that He just THOUGHT He was God? After all, it is possible to be both sincere and wrong.” And, I will agree that for someone to think himself God, especially in a fiercely monotheistic culture like 1st century Israel, and then tell others that he was God...and that their eternal destiny depended on their believing in Him...well this is no slight of fantasy but absolute lunacy—so what about this one. Could Jesus have been a lunatic? Could He have been a crazy Man who just thought He was God become flesh? Was He the first person to ever have a Messiah complex? I mean, you and I have heard of that kind of thing. These days when someone claims to be God in the flesh, we call for the guys in the white coats so he wouldn’t hurt himself or others. But—this one doesn’t fly either because in Jesus’ life and teachings we don’t observe the kinds of abnormalities and the imbalance that usually goes along with being deranged. His poise and composure would be amazing—unheard of—if he were insane. Plus—Jesus spoke some of the most profound sayings ever recorded. The temple guards that were went to arrest Him came back empty-handed saying, “No one ever spoke like this Man!” In fact, Jesus’ teachings have HEALED people plagued with mental disease. Psychiatrist J. T. Fisher puts it this way. He says,

“If you were to take the sum total of all authoritative articles ever written by the most qualified of psychologists and psychiatrists....on the subject of mental hygiene—if you were to combine them and refine them and cleave out the excess verbiage—if you were to take the whole of the meat and lone of the parsley, and if you were to have these unadulterated bits of pure scientific knowledge concisely expressed by the most capable of living poets, you would have an awkward and incomplete summation of the Sermon on the Mount. And it would suffer immeasurably through comparison. For nearly two thousand years the Christian world has been holding in its hands the complete answer to its restless and fruitless yearnings. Here...rests the blueprint for successful human life with optimism, mental health, and contentment.”

In other words, Fisher was saying that Jesus’ teachings are the most PROFOUND things ever said! A diseased mind could not have said these things. The Biblical record shows that Jesus was the sanest man Who has ever lived. He spoke with quiet authority. He always seemed in control of the situation. He was never surprised or rattled.

So—you can’t make a case for the belief that Jesus was just a good man. You can’t say He was a deceiver...and you can’t say that Jesus was crazy. Well, I agree with C. S. Lewis and countless others in saying that I think, the only option left to us is that Jesus was and IS Who He claimed to be.

(4) Jesus is the CHRIST

Jesus was...is...the CHRIST....the one and only SON of God...the Savior of the world.

And—there were those in the temple that day who embraced this belief. Look at verse 31: “Still, many in the crowd put their faith in Him. They said, “When the Christ comes, will He do more miraculous signs than this Man? I don’t think so!”

Of course billions have since come to the same conclusion. And, getting people to this conclusion is the purpose of John’s Gospel. Remember? In John 20:31 he said,“These things have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God and that by believing you may have Life in His name.”

Whenever we share communion we are professing our belief that Jesus is Who He says He is.

When we eat this bread and drink this cup we are bearing witness to our conviction that Jesus is God’s only Son..that He came to earth to die on a cross for sinners like us so we could have what we yearn for most, a personal relationship with our Heavenly Father...a relationship through which He guides us through life—giving us peace in our fears and purpose in our living. We share this meal as a way of proclaiming our belief that Jesus is indeed the Bread of Life...come to satisfy our deepest hungers. As we partake, let me invite all Christians present to join us because even if you are not a member of this church....If you are a Christian...if you are His, this is Yours.


As we come to our time of decision let me ask: “What do YOU believe about Jesus?” If you haven’t yet cast your “vote.” If you’ve been avoiding that question then I encourage you to stop—and just consider the evidence. Read the gospel accounts and when you finish ask yourself: “Could Jesus have been crazy? Do His life and teachings sound like the kinds of things a lunatic would say and do?” “Could He have been a deceiver? Do the results of His ministry match up with that?” “Could He have been just a good man? Would a good man say the things He said?” And—if you’ve done that but you’re still waffling on this issue then would you do at least this? Would you pray and say, “God...if You are real...I want You to know that I am an honest seeker after truth...and I want to understand Who Jesus Christ is. I promise that if You show me that Jesus of Nazareth really is Your Son and our Savior, I will obey and follow Him.” But I warn you. If you pray that prayer, God will lead you to His truth. After all in verse 17 of our text Jesus said, “If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether My teaching is from God or whether I speak on My own.”

One more thing—there are some things in life that you cannot be neutral about and Jesus is one of them. You can’t say, “Well, the evidence is convincing but I’m just going to pass on this decision for now.” You can’t say that because a PASS is equal to a NO...so don’t do that...say YES. Invite Jesus into your heart and life today. Admit to Him that you are a sinner. Tell Him you believe He is God’s Son and that He died in your place. Then come forward and confess—tell us all about this decision you’ve made. God may be calling others—to join this church. You may want to come forward to ask us to pray with you about something. Come as God leads.