Tag Archives: kingdom of god

John 15:18-25 – Not of this World

In our text today Jesus addresses both the disciples (and by extension all believers) and the world.

  • In vss. 18-21 Jesus addresses certain implications for the disciples given their relationship with Him.
  • Specifically, he says they are not of this world.
    • We will see how this relates to our Position and Place in Christ.
  • In vss. 22-25, Jesus addresses the implications for the world given their relationship with Him.
    • And yes, the world does indeed have a Position with regards to Christ.

 

 

1) POSITION AND PLACE OF THE DISCIPLES

 

John 15:18–21 (ESV) — 18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.

 

Jesus has spent much of the Farewell discourse comforting the disciples – see John 14.

  • Last week He spoke of the intimate relationship they have with Him.
  • One rooted in a love for Him and for each other.
  • Now he prepares them for what they will experience given their relationship with Him.

 

He shares at least four things with them.

  • 1) He tells them “if the world hates you” it is because it hated Him first (vs. 18).
  • 2) He tells them they will not be loved by the world because they are “not of the world” (vs. 19).
    • To be loved by the world is to be in it
  • 3) He tells them the world “will also persecute you” just as it has persecuted Him (vs. 20).
  • 4) He tells them they will face all of this on “account of my name” (vs. 21).

 

But there is an upside to number 3.

  • The upside is that the reverse is also true.
  • if they kept my word, they will also keep yours” (vs. 19).
  • In other words, there will be those that will “hear” the word of God.
  • Acts 18:9–10 (ESV) — 9 And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.

 

These are all straightforward enough.

  • But I think it is important to dig a little deeper into Jesus’ words in verse 19.

 

What is Jesus conveying when He speaks of the disciples being “not of the world”?

  • His words seem to have a least a two implications.

 

The first implication is something that Jesus has spoken of continuously since John 3, and the second is implied throughout the Gospel of John and is mentioned in 3 verses.

  • They are (1) our Position in Christ and (2) our Place in Christ.
  • The Position is necessary to have access to the Place!

 

To get an idea of our Position in Christ, we will look at how John contrasts it with the world.

 

1) A description of the person’s Position in Christ.

  • born of the flesh is flesh” vs. “that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” – John 3:6
  • condemned already” vs. “not condemned” – John 3:18
  • hates the light” vs. “comes to the light” – John 3:20-21
  • does not honor the Son does not honor the Father” vs. “honor the Son, just as they honor the Father” – John 5:23
  • Do not believe Moses vs. believe Moses would believe Jesus – John 5:45ff
  • Not drawn by the Father vs. drawn by the Father – John 6:44
  • Do not hear the word of God because “you are not of God” vs. “whoever is of God hears the words of God” – John 8:47

 

In John, all of these things describe someone who:

  • Is born again through the Spirit.
  • Believes that Jesus who He says He is.
  • Believes that Jesus’ words are the Father’s words.
  • Believes that Jesus’ deeds are the Father’s deeds.

 

So to be “not of the world” involves all these things in the life of the believer.

  • Our born again heart and belief in Christ position us so that we no longer walk in darkness; are no longer condemned; and are able to “hear” His words; and honor the Father; etc.

 

Yet along with our position, “not of the world” also involves a place.

  • The Kingdom of God

 

2) A description of a person’s Place with Christ.

  • John 3:3 (ESV) — 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
  • John 3:5 (ESV) — 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
  • John 18:36 (ESV) — 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”

 

Briefly, what is this place called the Kingdom of God?

 

The Kingdom of God (taken from Love in the Kingdom of God lesson):

A definition: “The Kingdom of God is primarily the reign, rule, or authority of God himself; secondarily, it is the realm in which that rule is directly exercised, consisting largely in the laws governing the natural world and, more importantly, the individual and collective hearts of those who have bowed to God’s rule.” – J.P. Moreland.

  • And importantly, “its character is determined…by the covenant according to which it is administered” – Michael Horton.
    • Our context is the new covenant of Jesus Christ as prophesied in Jeremiah 31.
  • Examples of the Kingdom’s “character” in which Christ rules are that “the righteousness of God has been revealed from heaven, including justification of sinners and new birth, the Spirit and his gifts poured out” – Michael Horton.

 

The Kingdom of God “stands at the very center of the message of the historical Jesus” – AYBD.

  • It is “the worldview of Jesus of Nazareth and Holy Scripture” – J.P. Moreland.
  • It “established a radically new order of life on earth” – Dallas Willard.

 

Kingdom of God in Scripture – a few examples:

1)  The Kingdom of God is at hand – the now and not yet.

  • Matthew 3:2 (ESV) — 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
  • Matthew 10:7 (ESV) — 7 And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’
  • Matthew 12:28 (ESV) — 28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

 

2) The Kingdom of God is priceless.

  • Matthew 13:44 (ESV) — 44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
  • Matthew 13:45-46 (ESV) — 45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

 

3) The Kingdom of God requires self-sacrifice.

  • Mark 9:47 (ESV) — 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell,
  • Acts 14:22 (ESV) — 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.

 

4) The Kingdom of God has different priorities than the world.

  • Luke 9:60 (ESV) — 60 And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
  • Luke 12:29–31 (ESV) — 29 And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. 30 For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.

 

5) The Kingdom of God is not about worldly gratification.

  • Romans 14:17 (ESV) — 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

 

So to be “not of the world” is to be firmly placed in the Kingdom of God and positioned in Jesus Christ.

  • It is to understand that as a believer, life is to be lived in this new reality.
  • We may not “feel” this truth, but it is true and we can rely on it.
  • We are to live with a Kingdom Understanding of the world around us and no longer with a Worldly Understanding.
  • To live in this Kingdom necessitates being Positioned in Christ.
    • And to live joyously in the Kingdom requires death to self and right thinking.

 

Current Events and Jesus’ Words to the disciples:

“Christ’s followers will be hated by the same world, partly because they are associated with the one who is supremely hated, and partly because, as they increase in the intimacy, love, obedience and fruitfulness depicted in the preceding verses, they will have the same effect on the world as their Master” – D.A. Carson.

  • In other words, we should be hated not just because of our association to Christ but because we are becoming more like Him.

 

Have you become enough like Christ to bring the hatred of the world down on you?

  • And do we really face the persecution today that Christ spoke of to the disciples?
  • Certainly Christians in other parts of the world do.
  • But what about in America?

 

Case in Point:

  • The Family Research Council is a “conservative Christian lobbying group” that “strongly opposes gay marriage and abortion and says it advocates ‘faith, family, and freedom in public policy and public opinion’” – Washington Post.
  • On August 15th 28-year-old Floyd Lee Corkins II walked into the FRC with a 9mm pistol, two 15 round magazines and a 50 round box of ammunition and began to open fire.
    • He also had with him a 15 of Chick-Fil-A sandwiches.
  • Corkins was a volunteer for the DC Center for the LGBT Community.
  • The reason he gave for the shooting was the FRC’s stance on gay marriage.
  • The liberal Human Rights Campaign has called the FRC a “hate group” because of this stance.
  • The liberal Southern Poverty Law Center labeled the FRC a “hate group”.
  • The Huffington Post called the FRC a “hate group” even after the shooting.
  • Corkins, apparently a big fan of Friedrich Nietzsche, apparently decided the way to deal with a “hate group” is to shoot them.

 

“The world is a society of rebels, and therefore finds it hard to tolerate those who are in joyful allegiance to the king to whom all loyalty is due” – D.A. Carson.

  • What the Kingdom of the World calls a “hate group”, is in the Kingdom of God “joyfull allegiance” to King Jesus.
  • And given Jesus’ words in our text today, to express hatred for Kingdom values is to express hatred for Jesus Himself and the Father (vs. 21).

 

Humility required:

  • We must remember that the difference between us and them is not us.
  • It is Jesus.
  • Jesus reminds us of our origins.
    • but I chose you out of the world” (vs. 19).
  • He chose us out of the darkness; out of the condemned; out of the flesh; out of Satan’s world.
  • A beautiful picture of the Grace in the Guilt – Grace – Gratitude we spoke of a few weeks ago from the Heidelberg Catechism.
  • How are you showing God you are grateful?

 

 

2) POSITION OF THE WORLD

 

John 15:22–25 (ESV) — 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’

 

Jesus also tells us about the position of the unbeliever.

  • Because of Him, His divinely purposed ministry and the Words He spoke, the unbeliever is:
  • guilty of sin” (vs. 22)
  • have no excuse for their sin” (vs. 22)
  • A result of this position is hatred of both Jesus and the Father.
  • As we have said over and over, there is not neutral ground in which any man stands.
  • And quoting the Psalms, he tells us that this hatred is a fulfillment of prophecy (Psalm 69:4).

 

It sounds like Jesus is saying they would have been innocent of their sin had He not arrived.

  • Is this really what He is suggesting when He says they “would not have been guilty”?
  • Absolutely not.
  • Jesus is referring specifically, as suggested by the Psalm prophecy, to the rejection of His Messiahship.
  • And to the guilt this rejection incurs.

D.A. Carson puts it like this, “by coming and speaking to them Jesus incited the most central and controlling of sins: rejection of God’s gracious revelation, rebellion against God, decisive preference for darkness rather than light” – D.A. Carson.

 

This is also similar language that Jesus used in John 3 and John himself used in John 12.

  • John 3:19 (ESV) — 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.
  • John 12:37–39 (ESV) — 37 Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, 38 so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” 39a Therefore they could not believe.

 

Importantly, as Carson points out, this hatred and rejection of Christ does not jeopardize “God’s redemptive plan”.

  • In a prophetic and mysterious way, it is part of it.

 

 

John 11:1-6 – Love in the Kingdom of God

The way love is expressed in the Kingdom of God is often at odds with its worldly expression.

  • In our lesson today, Jesus makes these differences plainly clear.
  • He shows us this love is a Glory kind of Love.

 

 

1) JESUS LOVED LAZARUS, MARTHA & MARY – BACKGROUND

 

Knowing the nature of Jesus’ relationship with Lazarus, Mary and Martha is necessary to fully appreciate one of the remarkable principals to be found in our text.

 

Jesus Loved Lazarus:

  • Jesus had a very special relationship with Lazarus (means – “whose help is God”).
  • John tells us that Jesus “phileo” (vss. 3 & 36) and “agapao” (vs. 5) Lazarus.
    • In other words, Jesus not only had a deep, selfless love for Lazarus, but He also had a deep affection for Lazarus based on a personal relationship; they were very close – DBL.
  • The depth of Jesus’ love for Lazarus is also revealed in that:
    • On his way to where they “laid him” (vss. 34), words that spoke of the stark reality of Lazarus’ death, “Jesus wept” (vs. 35).
    • Even the Jews present, perhaps mourners, noticed, “See how he loved him!” (vs. 36).
    • And John tells us twice that Jesus was “deeply moved” (vs. 38) over Lazarus’ death.
  • deeply moved” literally means to have “an intense feeling of concern” [a combination of anger and sorrow] in our context – DBL.
    • It is translated as “groaning in himself” in the ASV and YLT and “angry” in the NLT.
    • Jesus’ deep love for Lazarus meant the feeling of a deep loss with Lazarus’ death, even by Jesus.

 

Jesus Loved Martha and Mary:

  • As with Lazarus, Jesus “agapao” Mary and Martha (vs.5).
  • As with Lazarus, Jesus was “deeply moved” by their grief because of His love for them (vs. 33).

 

Now that we fully understand Jesus’ love for Lazarus, Mary and Martha we can move on.

 

 

2) A STRANGE RESPONSE

 

John 11:1–6 (ESV) — 1 Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair [John 12:3], whose brother Lazarus was ill. 3 So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” 4 But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

 

Mary, Lazarus’ sister, sent word to Jesus about Lazarus’ illness.

  • Given Jesus’ relationship with Lazarus, Mary knew Jesus would want to know that His dear friend was ill.
  • And no doubt, Mary had a pretty good idea that Jesus could heal Lazarus (vs. 32).
  • Jesus reply to the messenger must have struck him as rather peculiar.

 

Jesus’ words to the messenger from John 11:4:

  • This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.
  • This answer is very similar to the one Jesus gave for the blind man’s blindness.
  • He was blind not due to sin, “but that the works of God might be displayed in him” (John 9:3).

 

Yet, even stranger than His words were His actions.

  • John reminds us that Jesus loved Martha, Mary and Lazarus (vs. 5).
  • This reminder in vs. 5 seems to be an acknowledgement of how strange Jesus’ coming actions are.
  • So, after softening the blow, John tells us what Jesus did in response to the news of Lazarus’ illness.

 

Jesus’ action from John 11:6:

  • So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.”

 

How is Jesus’ action in verse 6 a demonstration of the kind deep love we know He had for Lazarus, Martha and Mary?

  • We have to try and make sense of this answer.

 

Let’s acknowledge the obvious.

  • 1) Given Jesus’ relationship to Lazarus, Mary and Martha, we would have expected Him to rush at once to Lazarus’ aid.
  • 2) Jesus’ response is the complete opposite of this expected response.
  • 3) In fact, it seems almost to contradict, or at least show that John’s description of Jesus’ love for Lazarus to be hyperbole.
  • 4) And, frankly, we can’t relate to it at all.

 

However, I think we will find here an understanding of love that suits perfectly with the Kingdom of God which Jesus inaugurated and operated.

  • In fact, we will find that the “two-day delay was motivated by Jesus’ love for Martha, Mary and Lazarus” – D.A. Carson.
  • This of course means that our perplexity over Jesus’ response is informed by a worldly understanding of love and not a Kingdom understanding.

 

 

3) LOVE IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD

 

To get at the answer to our question posed above, “How is Jesus’ action in verse 6 a demonstration of the kind deep love we know He had for Lazarus, Martha and Mary?” we need to understand a little of the foundational principals of the Kingdom of God.

A definition: “The Kingdom of God is primarily the reign, rule, or authority of God himself; secondarily, it is the realm in which that rule is directly exercised, consisting largely in the laws governing the natural world and, more importantly, the individual and collective hearts of those who have bowed to God’s rule.” – J.P. Moreland.

  • Dallas Willard says simply that The Kingdom of God is “death to self” and “where what God wants done is done”.

 

Why will it help us to have a basic understanding of the Kingdom of God to answer our question?

  • Because the Kingdom of God “stands at the very center of the message of the historical Jesus” – AYBD.
  • It is “the worldview of Jesus of Nazareth and Holy Scripture” – J.P. Moreland.
  • It “established a radically new order of life on earth” – Dallas Willard.
  • And Jesus’ odd response clearly points to “a radically new order of life on earth”.

 

Kingdom of God in Scripture – a few examples:

1)  The Kingdom of God is at hand – the now and not yet.

  • Matthew 3:2 (ESV) — 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
  • Matthew 10:7 (ESV) — 7 And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’
  • Matthew 12:28 (ESV) — 28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

 

2) The Kingdom of God is priceless.

  • Matthew 13:44 (ESV) — 44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
  • Matthew 13:45-46 (ESV) — 45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

 

3) The Kingdom of God requires self-sacrifice.

  • Mark 9:47 (ESV) — 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell,
  • Acts 14:22 (ESV) — 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.

 

4) The Kingdom of God has different priorities than the world.

  • Luke 9:60 (ESV) — 60 And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
  • Luke 12:29–31 (ESV) — 29 And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. 30 For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.

 

5) The Kingdom of God is not about worldly gratification.

  • Romans 14:17 (ESV) — 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

 

Right away we see that all of these things have in common the denial of self and the glory of God.

  • In this context, love will look different than it does in the world.

 

So, how does this relate to our question and a “glory kind of love”?

  • In the Kingdom of God, the “deepest essence of God is love” – Dallas Willard.
  • And our expression of this love is NOT an expression or fulfillment of our desires or the desires of those that we love – Willard.
  • But, love expressed in the Kingdom of God IS the “will to good”.
  • In other words, “We love something or someone when we promote its good for its own sake” – Willard.
  • This love is contrary to a secular worldview, one outside of the Kingdom of God, which sees love as a fulfillment of desires or not standing in the way of the fulfillment of desires.

 

And in the Kingdom of God, the best way to love someone, to “will to good” and to promote someone’s “good for its own sake” is to point them to, and help them behold the glory of God.

  • Isaiah 66:19 (ESV) — 19 and I will set a sign among them. And from them I will send survivors to the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, who draw the bow, to Tubal and Javan, to the coastlands far away, that have not heard my fame or seen my glory. And they shall declare my glory among the nations.
  • 1 Peter 4:10–11 (ESV) — 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
  • 1 Corinthians 10:31 (ESV) — 31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
  • This is why, for example, the Westminster Catechism states that the chief end or aim of man is to “glorify God, and enjoy him forever”.
  • And John MacArthur says, the glory of God is “the most important theme in the universe”.
  • Clearly, not an aim of any worldview but that of the Kingdom of God and thus Jesus.

 

So, the answer to our question is that, in spite of looking like Jesus didn’t care much for Lazarus, Martha and Mary, Jesus’ actions actually demonstrated the highest form of love to them and even His disciples.

  • He showed them a “glory kind of love!
  • A love that fulfilled much more than a desire to avoid pain and grief.

 

If an expression of love in the Kingdom of God is to point people to the glory of God, how did Jesus’ actions do this?

 

1) Jesus loved them and glorified God by using Lazarus’ death, not just his sickness, to glorify Himself.

  • As Jesus’ own words declared, This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.
  • This is because, as Jesus said in John 5:23, “Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him”.
  • Jesus resurrection of Lazarus was the means used to glorify Himself and the Father.
  • Jesus was showing that He is “the resurrection and the life” (vs. 25).

 

2) Jesus loved them and glorified God by His example of obedience.

  • John 5:19–20 (ESV) — 19 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel.
  • We can deduce, then, that Jesus waited because it was the Father’s will He do so.
  • Obedience to God’s commands and law “is the structure of a life of grace in the kingdom of God” – Dallas Willard.

 

3) Jesus loved them and glorified God by preparing them for His death and crucifixion.

  • John 11:14–15 (ESV) — 14 Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, 15 and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”
  • The disciples, Mary and Martha “are manifestly unprepared to endure the shock of faith that lies ahead of them; the awakening of Lazarus from his death will grant them a fresh vision of his glory” – Beasley-Murray.
  • “Lazarus’s death becomes occasion for rejoicing because it will serve to strengthen the disciples’ faith in Jesus once Lazarus has been raised” – Kostenberger.

 

Lessons for Us:

  • The result of all this was that Jesus resurrection of Lazarus “confirmed the faith of his disciples and friends with dramatic power that would have been lacking if Jesus had responded immediately to the plea for help” – D.A. Carson.
    • Jesus’ waiting here is very similar to our lesson from John 6:16-21 – Jesus Had Not Yet Come.
    • In fact in verse 30 John tells us, “Now Jesus had not yet come into the village”.
  • And to grow and increase a believer’s faith is both to glorify God and is to love the believer at the same time.
  • This, in the Kingdom of God, is more important than the keeping people from pain or fulfilling their desires.
  • In fact, as discussed, Jesus Himself also endured deep emotional pain over Lazarus’ death.
  • This means that outside of the Kingdom of God, pain and suffering have no purpose – this is both sad and disturbing.
  • But in the Kingdom of God, God desires that we glorify Him by enduring what is necessary that we might “manifest the radical nature of the Kingdom of God and the fruit of the Holy Spirit” – J.P. Moreland.
  • And bringing us to this nature is to show us a Glory Kind of Love.
    • On one level, this is what Jesus means when he says to us, “This illness does not lead to death” (vs. 4).