One of the most puzzling things to me as a preacher and a follower of Christ are those individuals who have heard the word, they have heard that sin condemns them to be lost eternally, and they know that the only escape from that condemnation is Jesus, and yet they consistently refuse to obey Him.
- And I don’t know what their hang-up is?
I often wonder, and I am sure that some of you who have tried to bring friends or family to Christ only to fail, I am sure some of you have wondered the same thing, “Am I not saying the right things; “Am I not speaking clearly.” “What am I doing wrong?”
- “Do I need to be bolder or do I need to be less bold?” “More emotional?”
- “Am I too boring? Do I need to be more charismatic? Do I need to jump up and down and scream and yell and say, “You have no guarantee of tomorrow!”
- It is puzzling to me why some individuals are so hesitant to respond to Christ, especially when they know they should.
It may be puzzling, but it shouldn’t be surprising because that is one of the ongoing issues all the way through this gospel.
- In fact, that is exactly the issue here in this passage of scripture that was read.
- This passage indirectly asks, “Why are you rejecting Christ?” while at the same time telling those who are trying to bring others to Christ, “That in spite of your best efforts and wishes that if you don’t succeed in bringing someone to Christ then more than likely it is not your fault.”
Let’s look at the passage that was read.
In this chapter Jesus heals a man who had been sick for 38 year. But the problem is, He healed the man on the Sabbath and some of the Jews didn’t like it and in vs. 16 these Jews begin persecuting Jesus.
- And starting in vs. 17 and running all the way to the end of vs. 47 Jesus tries to tell these Jews who He is. He tries to tell them that He is equal to God, that He can do nothing separate and apart from God, and God has given Him the authority to execute judgment.
- And in declaring His deity, in declaring that He is God, in order to get these Jews, as well as anyone else to believe and obey Him, Jesus provides witnesses to prove or confirm who He is.
Now, it is not necessary for Him to provide witnesses. But, in vs. 31, He knows the Jews are not going to accept His claims just because He makes them because in Deuteronomy 19:15 they are told that “unless a testimony is confirmed by two or more witness, that testimony is to be considered as “not true.”
But it isn’t necessary for Jesus to provide witnesses because Jesus says in chapter 8:14 that “Even if He bears witness of Himself, His witness is true;
- But here in vs. 31 He defers to these Jews and provides witnesses in an effort to convince them that He is God.
- And as you read through the following verses Jesus tells you who His witnesses are.
Look at vs. 33: You (the Jews) have sent to John, and he has borne witness (perfect tense: speaks of a past completed action with results continuing to the present) to the truth.
- John the Baptist is His first witness.
- In John 1:6-8; and in chapter 1:15 and in chapter 1:19-34 John the Baptist testified to who Jesus is!
- And that testimony, though made in the past is continuing to the present; it has not changed and it has not been retracted.
And look what Jesus says about John in vs. 35: "He was the lamp that was burning and was shining and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light.
- During his ministry John was shining like a lamp guiding the way for the people.
- And while John was doing that the Jews “were willing to rejoice.”
- While John was preaching repentance and baptizing the people, the people were attracted to him.
- They thronged to him and rejoiced at the “good news” of the hope that he brought to them.
- As a shining lamp he bore witness to the “light of the world” even though he wasn’t the light; John 1:8.
- And the Jews even told the people He was a prophet from God!
And if you look at vs. 34 you find John the Baptist’s witness or testimony directed the people to Jesus and salvation.
- John didn’t get his message from reading tea leaves or by contemplating the stars or reading horoscopes.
- He didn’t make it up himself or consult demonic powers.
- He was commissioned by God “to make ready the way of the Lord.”
So, if you want a witness to confirm who Jesus is and that He is the One sent from God to “take away the sins of the world”, there is John.
But now you need another witness to convince you to follow Christ, well look at vs. 36:
But the witness which I have is greater than that of John; for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish, the very works that I do, bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me.
- John’s testimony was verbal; the “works” or signs that Jesus performed were visual and that is why they were greater!
- Jesus often spoke to the people and they might believe what He said or at least think about it; but when they saw a miracle; when they saw a man who had been sick for 38 years get up and walk; or when they saw a little girl raised from the dead; or when they saw Jesus control a storm with His voice; or cast out the demons in a demon possessed man that is a more convincing testimony.
In fact, do you remember why John wrote this gospel? John 20:30-31:
Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.
- All the miracles that Jesus performed and there were a lot of them.
- All of those miracles were intended to convince people that Jesus is the Son of God and they still are intended for that.
- After all the miracles that Jesus performed no one ever came back and denied them.
- And those miracles testify that Jesus is God!
- And I am confident that our Lord is puzzled why the miracles have not caused some to obey Christ.
And now the third witness; vs. 37: “And the Father who sent Me, He has testified of Me.
- Do you remember what God said when Jesus was baptized and the Spirit descended on Him like a dove?
- If you look at the second half of this verse, these Jews had never heard the voice of God speak to them or seen Him in any form; but Jesus did! Why, because Jesus is God’s Son.
And that brings us to the final witness that Jesus mentions in this passage, the scriptures. Look at vs. 39: "You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me;
- The reason the Jews “searched the scriptures” is because they thought the Law was the source of eternal life. They thought they could save themselves by keeping the Law.
- But the scriptures manifested to them that they could not save themselves by keeping the law, Deut. 27:26; if they violated the Law one time they were guilty of the whole law; and therefore they would needed a Savior; a spotless Lamb to atone for their sins.
- If they had sincerely studied the scriptures then they would have recognized Christ when He came on the scene.
So you have 4 witnesses; John the Baptist, the “works” that Jesus performed and will perform; God the Father, and the Scriptures; to confirm that Christ is God; that Christ has the authority to raise the dead and give life; that He has the authority to judge and give eternal life or to raise people to judgment.
- Those are the 4 witnesses, all come from God and you would think that these Jews, just like some today, wouldn’t hesitate; they wouldn’t put it off; they wouldn’t refuse; you would think they would immediately humble themselves and follow Christ.
- So, what did they do?
Look starting in vs. 40: You are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life.
- These Jews, as well as people today, don’t refuse to come to Christ because of the teacher; they had the best teacher that anyone could possibly have.
- They couldn’t plead ignorance because He just told them.
- They couldn’t say that God didn’t choose them be saved, just like all of us God gave His Son so we could be saved.
- They couldn’t blame it on a lack of provision.
- They couldn’t blame it on a lack of evidence.
- They only one they could blame it on was themselves and the unwillingness to come to Christ.
Some of us think that we are to blame when someone doesn’t come to Christ or isn’t baptized.
- And I guess is some situations that could be true.
- But every individual is ultimately responsible for their own salvation; and if you are I or Jesus tries to teach them and they reject the truth it is on them.
And look at this. Jesus says “You were unwilling.”
- “You don’t want to.” “You have no desire to.” It is not “You are unable to.” It is “you are unwilling.” It is that simple.
- People make all kinds of excuses: “I have some things I want to do first!” “I am not sure I agree with what the Bible says.” “I like to party and drink; chase the women.” “My parents didn’t come to Christ and they were ok, I will be too.” “I don’t have time.” “I’ll lose my friends.” “Old Pete made me mad.” “Those people are just a bunch of hypocrites.”
- People make all kinds of excuses but when it comes right down to it, they are just “unwilling.”
And look what it will cost them. Look at the end of the verse: “That you may have life.”
- That is what puzzles me.
- People will do a lot of things to save their life: wear seat belts; have a colonoscopy; learn how to swim; call for an ambulance; conceal carry; eat healthy; stop smoking; quit drinking; all kinds of things to save their life.
- But they can find all kinds of excuses to not save their spiritual life.
Let’s read the rest of this passage. Vs. 41, Jesus says: I do not receive glory from men; 42 but I know you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves. 43 "I have come in My Father's name, and you do not receive Me; if another shall come in his own name, you will receive him. 44 "How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another, and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God? 45 "Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope. 46 "For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote of Me. 47 "But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?"
It is puzzling why some individuals who know, won’t. What we all must do in those instances is keep trying; keep pounding on that old rock because some day it might crack; and in some instances it may be that we just need to move on to someone else.
- Don’t get discouraged. Keep trying.
For some, perhaps today is the day. You never know when the Lord will come back. And if your hang-up is some matter of doctrine, let’s study about it and let God tells us what to do.