Last week we saw that Jesus indicated that the Jews were incapable of knowing who He was because they were using wrong judgment.
• He explained that right judgment involved both the will and correct understanding of the law.
• If the law is made in one’s own image, there is no true submission of one’s will to God’s will because the law you are submitting to is not the law of God.
Thus far, it has been somewhat of a mystery as to why so many of Jesus’ countrymen did not recognize Him as Messiah.
• Jesus addressed this mystery in last week’s lesson just as He did in John 6.
• In John 6, we saw that there was no drawing and giving by the Father to the Son.
• Last week we saw problem the Jew had when this work of God was not present in the heart.
• They have a will in rebellion to God serving a corrupt law – this is spiritual blindness and deafness.
In today’s lesson we will explore further the Jews’ inability to recognize Jesus as Messiah.
• We have seen Jesus’ perspective on the problem, today we hope to understand the crowd’s perspective.
1) OT MESSIAH BACKGROUND
As we have seen on numerous occasions, the crowds that Jesus attracted were always trying to figure out who He was.
• J.C. O’Neill describes the crowd’s intent as follows, “People discussed among themselves what might be the marks of the Messiah, and whether or not Jesus measured up”.
• The reason, of course, for this is because Jesus “acted in a way that raises the question” of His identity as the Messiah – J.C. O’Neill.
And this raises the question that I think all of us have asked ourselves over the past few weeks.
• Why didn’t the Father make it plainly obvious to everyone that Jesus was the Messiah?
• Jesus’ explanations as summarized in the intro address this, but there are also additional considerations that factor in, namely the Jews’ expectations.
J.C. O’Neill, who by no means is a thoroughly orthodox evangelical, has done considerable research on the subject and has found some very interesting info.
• He argues that within the Jewish literature, including the Old Testament, the Babylonian Talmud, the Wisdom Literature, etc., when Messianic expectations are addressed it is understood that, “…the Messiah’s coming would be the coming of someone who had to be identified as such, not the coming of an obvious king” – J.C. O’Neill.
• In other words, it wasn’t definitively understood that the Messiah would show up as King with a tattoo on His forehead that said “I am the Messiah”.
In fact, O’Neill points out that in Judaism, there apparently existed a tradition that spoke of a “help” to discern the Messiah.
• Spiritual discernment and the idea that “one might need revelation to recognize the Messiah” was “part of God’s purpose” – O’Neill.
• Obviously, this fits in perfectly with Jesus’ explanation for unbelief in Him as Messiah.
By way of example, O’Neill observes that, “Just as not everyone at the time of David recognized the anointed king, so when the greater David came it would not be obvious who he was. People would have to compare the life of anyone they suspected of being the Messiah with the clues given in Scripture” – Who Did Jesus Think He Was; pg. 43.
• The truth of this statement is rather profound.
• During David’s reign as king there were those who did not recognize Him as such, so it follows that Jesus’ experience would be no different.
Scripture bears this out about King David.
• 2 Samuel 2:4 (ESV) — 4 And the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah.
• 2 Samuel 2:10 (ESV) — 10 Ish-bosheth, Saul’s son, was forty years old when he began to reign over Israel, and he reigned two years. But the house of Judah followed David.
And again, Scripture bears this out.
• 2 Samuel 5:3 (ESV) — 3 So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the LORD, and they anointed David king over Israel.
• 2 Samuel 15:10 (ESV) — 10 But Absalom sent secret messengers throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, “As soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then say, ‘Absalom is king at Hebron!’ ”
• 2 Samuel 15:13 (ESV) — 13 And a messenger came to David, saying, “The hearts of the men of Israel have gone after Absalom.”
God had made David’s authority to assume the throne as successor to Saul plainly evident.
• But many men of Israel rejected Him as King.
• This is a direct parallel to Jesus and man’s rejection of Him.
POI – In John 6:14, we remember that the crowd that Jesus fed wanted to anoint Him king.
• Obviously their motives were wrong, but we saw that the timing was also wrong.
• It is fascinating to consider that before Joseph was made Prime Minister over all of Egypt, he suffered many afflictions at the hands of his enemies and even his own family.
• Likewise, before David was made King, He also suffered many afflictions and trials – Saul seeking to kill him for example.
• Should we be surprised that the Messiah’s life would be any different?
• This speaks to why Jesus would often seem to downplay or speak cryptically about who He was.
• His time of suffering had not yet occurred.
So we have seen that it was consistent in Jewish teaching that people would have to “figure out” who He was.
• So what were the clues given in Scripture about the Messiah to aid the Jews?
• Did the Jews try to ascertain Jesus’ identity in relation to these clues?
2) COMPARING CLUES
John 7:25–27 (ESV) — 25 Some of the people of Jerusalem therefore said, “Is not this the man whom they seek to kill? 26 And here he is, speaking openly, and they say nothing to him! Can it be that the authorities really know that this is the Christ? 27 But we know where this man comes from, and when the Christ appears, no one will know where he comes from.” John 7:31 (ESV) — 31 Yet many of the people believed in him. They said, “When the Christ appears, will he do more signs than this man has done?” John 7:40–42 (ESV) — 40 When they heard these words, some of the people said, “This really is the Prophet.” 41 Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some said, “Is the Christ to come from Galilee? 42 Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” 43 So there was a division among the people over him. 44 Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.
In our text today, we have evidence of the crowds concern for How Jesus measured up to their understanding of who the Messiah was to be.
(1) They point out (vs. 26) that maybe He was the Christ because the authorities no longer seem interesting in having Him killed.
• Kostenberger says that the crowd must have figured that “the authorities” must “have uncovered new evidence to suggest that Jesus is indeed the Christ” or else they would arrest Him.
• “Perhaps the authorities themselves have weighed the evidence, perhaps even know of fresh evidence, concluding, at least in private, that Jesus really is the Christ, the Messiah” – D.A. Carson.
(2) But they also point out (vs. 37) that they knew where Christ came from, and their understanding was that no one would know where the Messiah came from.
• “According to rabbinic teaching, some believed that the Messiah would be born of flesh and blood yet be wholly unknown until he set out to procure Israel’s redemption” – Kostenberger.
(3) They point out that (vs. 31) given the signs He has done that surely no one but the Messiah can perform as many signs “as this man has done”.
• It is interesting, by the way, that D.A. Carson points out that typical Jewish understanding of the Messiah did not “commonly associate miracles with Messiah”.
• However, to be a prophet like Moses, may certainly have inferred He would be a miracle worker.
(4) They point out that (vs. 40) that the words Jesus speaks must be that of the “the Prophet” spoken of by Moses.
• Jesus had just spoken about being “living water”.
• Because Moses was associated with the life giving water due to his water from a rock miracle, and the Feast of Booths symbolism, the crowd rightly saw a parallel between Jesus’ words and Moses.
(5) They point out that (vs. 41-42), in opposition to point (2), that they know that Jesus is from Galilee but “the Christ” would be an offspring of David from Bethlehem.
• It is interesting here that the Jew did not necessarily think that “the Prophet” and “the Christ” would be the same person.
• “Many Jews thought of the promised Prophet and of the Messiah as two separate individuals” – D.A. Carson.
Additional Examples of Sizing Jesus Up:
• Luke 4:22 (ESV) — 22 And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?”
• John 2:23 (ESV) — 23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing.
• John 4:39 (ESV) — 39 Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.”
• John 6:14 (ESV) — 14 When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!”
• Matthew 12:23 (ESV) — 23 And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?”
• John 3:2 (ESV) — 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”
• John 6:2 (ESV) — 2 And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick.
• John 9:16 (ESV) — 16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them.
• John 10:41 (ESV) — 41 And many came to him. And they said, “John did no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true.”
And of course, we have to mention the Jews’ attempts to discount Jesus’ Messiahship in John 6 by comparing Him and His work to Moses and the manna.
• They felt He came up woefully short of Moses.
BTW – Even John the Baptist Disciples were trying to sort all this stuff out.
• Matthew 11:3–6 (ESV) — 3 and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 4 And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. 6 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
We have seen clearly that the crowd saw Jesus as someone to be explained.
• His words, actions, signs, teaching all demanded a response from the crowd as to His identity.
• It is interesting, however, that much (not all) of the info they used in their discussion as to the nature of the Messiah was from rabbinic teaching and not from O.T. Scripture – not knowing where He came from, e.g.
• In other words, the fact that they sought many of their clues outside of the O.T. was an indication of the problem Jesus addressed in our lesson last week.
This raises the question as to what were some of the O.T. clues available to the Jews to help them identify the Messiah?
Scriptural O.T. Clues Pointing to Jesus:
• Deuteronomy 18:18 (ESV) — 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.
• 2 Samuel 7:12–13 (ESV) — 12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.
• Psalm 2:7 (ESV) — 7 I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.
• Psalm 89:27 (ESV) — 27 And I will make him the firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth.
• Isaiah 11:1 (ESV) — 1 There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
• Jeremiah 23:5 (ESV) — 5 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.
• Micah 5:2 (ESV) — 2 But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.
These are but a few of the scores of O.T. prophecies of the Messiah that were available to the Jew as they sought to explain who Jesus was.
• But, at the end of the day, we are still left with the question as to why some concluded from the clues that Jesus was the Christ and some did not.
o Some saw Him as a Law Breaker.
o Some saw Him as demon-possessed.
o Some saw Him as a charlatan.
• Ultimately, we are still left with Jesus’ explanation as the final word on explaining this mystery.
o That God is determinative in this mystery and not man is, I think, clearly taught in Scripture.
o To rely on our intellect and powers of observation for something so great as the identification of the Messiah would no doubt end in disaster for everyone.
o This is why, as we have learned, that even Jewish teaching understood that some “help” was needed to discern the Christ.
3) THE FATHER’S JESUS AGAIN
John 7:28–30 (ESV) — 28 So Jesus proclaimed, as he taught in the temple, “You know me, and you know where I come from? But I have not come of my own accord. He who sent me is true, and him you do not know. 29 I know him, for I come from him, and he sent me.” 30 So they were seeking to arrest him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come.
Once again, Jesus’ response to the Jews’ searching is to identify the root of the problem.
• They do not “know” the Father.
• Jesus knows the Father because He was sent by the Father.
• If they knew the Father, they would know Jesus is the Christ.
• As a result of not knowing the Father, their inability to answer the “…question regarding Jesus’ origin is not primarily geographical in nature (Judea versus Galilee), but spiritual: is his authority merely of human derivation, or has he been divinely commissioned?” – Kostenberger.
• Jesus’ exchange with the Jews is highly offensive to them, because He is implying that “they were woefully ignorant of the very God they so proudly professed to know” – John MacArthur.
Lesson for Us:
• May our hearts be inclined to seek out in God’s word the identity of the Messiah – the Father’s Jesus.
• May we resist making God’s word in our own image and thereby hinder our capacity to fellowship with Jesus Christ.