A summary of the sermon preached by Rev Dr K. Song on 14 January 2018 at St Columba’s Presbyterian Church, Peppermint Grove.
Bible Readings: (OT) Isaiah 61:1-11 / (NT) John 7:1-10
I. Jesus’ power to save
II. Jesus’ time as its Master
III. Jesus’ compassion on us
Our text passage for today starts with this phrase, “After this.” So, before we examine our text passage and meditate on it, we need to know what ‘this’ points out so that we could understand the Lord’s message in this seventh chapter of John’s gospel. So, let me remind you what had happened earlier in ch. 6.
Jesus performed a great miracle in ch. 6. He fed five thousand men with five barley loaves and two fish. All were satisfied and twelve basketfuls of leftovers were gathered. V. 14 of Jn. 6 records that the people saw the sign and said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world.” Then, Jesus walked on the water of the Sea of Galilee and came to the boat His disciples were on. Mt. 14 records some details of this miracle for us and says that Peter asked Jesus to allow him to walk on the water too. Jesus called him to come, and Peter did walk on the water. But he became afraid of the rough water and began sinking. So Jesus rescued him. And Mt. 14:33 records, “And those in the boat worshiped [Jesus], saying, ‘Truly You are the Son of God.’”
Then, starting from Jn. 6:26, Jesus taught people that He was the bread of life. In v. 35, Jesus said, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to Me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in Me shall never thirst.” The Jews grumbled over Jesus’ teaching on His being the bread of life and His gospel invitation. So, many of them stopped following Jesus from that moment. Ch. 7 begins ‘after this.’ Jesus with most likely with His twelve disciples in Galilee continued His ministry, teaching and healing, inviting people to have His eternal life through faith in Him.
His brothers spoke to Him, and in this conversation, Jesus teaches us a message that is truly important for all followers of Jesus, that is, ‘understanding Jesus’ power, time and compassion.’ I think, understanding these is not only important for us, but also quite timely because we have this new and fresh year to live and commit our life to the Lord. So, let us hear the Lord’s message for us.
I. JESUS’ POWER TO SAVE
First of all, Jesus teaches us to know and understand His power to save sinners. He has the power to break the bondage of sin and death by forgiving us of our sins.
This teaching begins with Jesus’ brothers’ disbelief in Him. In our text passage, His brothers urged Jesus to go up to Jerusalem. They asked Him to show Himself to the people and display His power to impress them and earn their support and cheers. They were absolutely sure that it would grab people’s eyes. Yet, this was based on their ‘disbelief’ in Jesus’ power to save and free sinners from their bondage to sin and death.
Jesus’ miracles were to show people His saving power, rather than for earning a fame and people’s applause. It was to draw people from their sins to repentance and belief in Him and receive His eternal life. His miracles were to make people ready to hear His gospel message and know that He is the Messiah God promised to send. Jesus’ brothers disbelieved in this saving power; they missed Jesus’ true power.
When you think about Jesus’ brothers, you’d say that their ‘trust’ in Jesus was surprisingly outstanding in comparison to that of their contemporaries. They had no doubt at all that the world would be impressed by Jesus and give Him a great applause. Compare it with the other Jews. They had no trust at all in Jesus; they wanted to kill Him instead. The ordinary Jews on the streets didn’t really care about Jesus either. Considering that, Jesus’ brothers showed an amazing trust. But that trust wasn’t a right trust, not different from the others’ enmity or indifference to the Lord, because they missed the true purpose of Jesus’ power.
Unfortunately, such a false trust is still found around us. Some individuals follow Jesus seeking material success in the world or people’s attention or applause. Some churches are in the same falsehood as they twist Jesus’ saving power to a message of finance management or better health. They call on the name of Jesus, thinking that Jesus would give them what they are after. But, such a trust is not a saving faith as it misses the saving power of Jesus.
Jesus’ power is the saving power; He saves sinners. So, what we should understand is that, first, He is the Saviour of sinners like us. He breaks the bondage to sin and death and brings sinners to God. Second, we should live for Him as we’re saved through His power and rejoice greatly because we’re no longer under our enemy Satan but under His marvellous saving power.
Being saved in Christ, we now worship Him and walk with Him. Then, we should know that there’s only one way for all in Christ, that is, to be joyful in our life and grow up to Him. In faith, we enjoy the Lord’s power, willingly give Him our life and have a deeper relationship and fellowship with Him. This is what Eph. 4:15 speaks about in these words: “speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the Head, into Christ.” Jesus’ power draws sinners to His saving grace and joy.
II. JESUS’ TIME AS ITS MASTER
The next point in Jesus’ teaching is that He is the Master of time. This is a great encouragement for all who are saved by His power and live in fellowship with Him.
Going back to the story of Jesus’ brothers in conversation with Jesus, they misunderstood both Jesus’ power and this second point of Jesus’ teaching. They urged Jesus to go ‘right now’ because that time was, to their eyes, the best time to meet the crowd in a national feast. I’m sure that these brothers were clever. They had an idea of what, when and how. They seem to know when Jesus should stand before the crowd.
Giving you a brief explanation of this ‘time’ they’re concerned about, the Feast of Booths (or Tabernacles) could be one of the best moments for such a purpose because, in this Feast, people come from almost every corner of Israel and gather together in Jerusalem. They pitch their tents or make tents with palm leaves and stay there for seven days, rejoicing for the Lord’s blessing. It was originally to remember God’s deliverance from Egypt and, because the time for this feast was after their fruit harvest, it was also a thanksgiving to the Lord. So, as you can imagine, people flocked in from everywhere and Jerusalem were packed in with people with good spirit. Surely, this was a right time to grab people’s attention and, if possible, their support. Jesus’ brothers saw it as the best time to be famous and they were right with that!
But Jesus refused and said, “My time has not yet come,” in v. 6. What kind of time did He mean? And what difference was there between Jesus’ ‘time’ and His brothers’? Only one difference. Jesus meant ‘God’s time’ and the brothers meant ‘this world’s time.’ Jesus talks about God as the Master of time as its Creator and the brothers talk about time man sets up and controls as its master. The brothers’ ‘time’ for being at Jerusalem was the time they could maximise their control over it so that their gain might be a maximum gain. So, the brothers missed another very important teaching, namely, God’s time and Jesus’ time.
By ‘God’s time,’ I mean God’s ownership of time, rather than a specific moment in time for some divine actions. Eccl. 3:11 is right about it, saying this: “[God] has made everything beautiful in its time.” So, the Lord Jesus in our text passage means, first, God is the Master of time and, second, He alongside the Father is carrying out what is beautifully purposed in time. Thinking about ‘time,’ Jesus has only one thing in His mind, that is, God and His purpose in time.
But sadly, men have always been trying to control this ‘time’ according to their own interests. They want to do whatever they desire with ‘time,’ trying to become its master. No man can master it but everyone continues to become its master while trying to get rid of the God of time. But Jesus points out here that the truth is the opposite; He teaches God’s ownership of time and urges us to know and follow the true Master of time.
We must always know that God is in control of His time and He has a good plan for His children. So, we should always look to God in all we do and never be despaired regardless of things that take place. We do what is assigned to each of us as individuals and as a Christ’s church. We do our best with all things. Then, we wait for God who is the Master of time. This is our act of seeking God’s will and His guidance for all things. Seeking the Lord’s will is, therefore, not deciphering the Bible verses, hoping to find a hidden secret code for us, but doing our best with all things as the Lord permits and waiting for Him to reveal His purpose in His time. So, we must not hasten to see an immediate result of our works; we must not neglect doing God’s work regardless of season or time; but we persevere in what we do, knowing that He who is the Master of time is faithful and He will surely carry out His good will for His people as Rom. 8:28 hits the bull’s eyes in this sense, saying this: “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to [God’s] purpose.”
III. JESUS’ COMPASSION ON US
Jesus’ brothers missed this point and didn’t understand what Jesus meant by His time. They missed the true purpose of Jesus’ power and His time, yet, they missed one last teaching of the Lord from this conversation in Jn. 7, that is, His compassion on people.
Vs. 9 and 10 of our text passage tell us that Jesus stayed in Galilee. Then He went up to Jerusalem. Not in a way all people might notice Him, but “in private” or ‘in secret.’ He didn’t want His entry into that city attract people’s attention.
He was going to go up to Jerusalem, but because of His compassion on people, He treated these brothers and all others in Jerusalem carefully. His word recorded in vs. 6-8 is the clue to this understanding: “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify about it that its works are evil. You go up to the feast. I am not going up to this feast, for My time has not yet fully come.” Truth is that all were ignorant of His saving power and His being the Master of time; people were like ‘sheep without a shepherd’ as Mt. 9:36 says. They were miserable in this sinful fallen world!
So, He went up without stirring them up. The Lord and Saviour of the world entered in that city of God in secret and dwelt in their midst in secret because He loves sinners, because He cares for even those deaf and stubborn people, wanting them to hear His voice and come to Him in repentance and faith, and drink from Him the living water and have the bread of life. Jesus’ invitation is not violent but soft and tender; His message is not offensive but kind and delightful. He cares for each one, knowing that we’re but dust. So, He didn’t break a bruised reed even in the hearts of these brothers. But remember that one of these brothers later became one of the leaders of the early church formed in Jerusalem and recorded a NT book, James!
He does the same for us. We didn’t know Jesus’ love for us. But He wasn’t harsh toward us. He was tender and kind. Gently He guided us to repentance and faith; lovingly He nurtured us with His word – first, with the pure spiritual milk, then, with solid food for our souls. He has never ceased from showing us His kindness, sometimes in secret, but other times, openly, according to our needs. What a gracious Lord!
So, we cannot miss or misunderstand Jesus’ compassion on us. ‘By grace you’ve been saved,’ says Eph. 2:5 and we must not ignore His lovingkindness toward us. Instead, we must willingly listen to Him and wholeheartedly take all His grace to our souls. Then, live it out in our life to the praise of the Lord of love and compassion.
So, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, remember that Jesus, in His power, saves sinners from sin and death. Also remember that He and the Father work in harmony in the lives of His people like us as the Master of time. So, there’s no need for us to worry or be restless, but to continue our God-given tasks with joy and calmness in our souls, knowing that the Lord will accomplish His will for us. Then, give thanks to Him, our Lord, for His compassion and love for us.
I pray that this year may be for all of us to know more and deeper about Jesus, especially about His saving power, His time and His love for us. By this, may the name of the Lord Jesus be praised in our midst and also shown to the eyes of our friends and neighbours. Amen. ***