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Sun, Nov 15, 2015

Part 01

Duration:28 mins 33 secs

Introducing Jesus.

Part 1

            What is so special about this man Jesus, that people are still following him after 2000 years?

            The plan over the next 2 weeks is to get to know Jesus a little bit better.

            We’re going to look at 2 instances from John’s Gospel and hopefully as we look at those, we’ll get to know more about Jesus, who he is and how we should relate to him.

John’s gospel is a very unique gospel when you compare it to the other Gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke. It’s a very personal account of the life of Jesus. John zooms in on various conversations and discussions and statements that Jesus made.

One author said that comparing the gospel of John to the other gospels is like comparing a chat show to the 9 o clock news.

And he also says that John isn’t wanting to reproduce Jesus’ diary, but rather paint a portrait of Jesus. In fact listen to what he says: “John takes us behind the public image to discover the inner personality of Jesus…And you discover that he is not only much more human, but he is also much more divine. He is not only easier to love, he is also much more compelling to worship.”

Do you want to know Jesus better? Go and read the Gospel of John.

            So the conversation that we’re looking at today is quite an interesting one. Quite a confrontational one. It takes place at a big event in the Jewish calendar at the time, it was the Feast of the Tabernacles. So there was a big gathering of the Jewish people. Jerusalem would have been buzzing with activity. The Jewish leaders were there. The Pharisees were present. And at this point in the book of John, Jesus was becoming increasingly popular. He was becoming an increasingly popular part of people’s conversation. He was becoming more and more of a household name.

            So when you get to John chapter 8 and verse 12, Jesus makes what would be considered to be a very bold statement. As he stands in the temple courts in the presence of Pharisees and other Jewish leaders. He says this: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

            Jesus used a lot of picture language when he spoke. If there was an object that would help illustrate a point, Jesus would use it. Jesus was at this point in the temple court, and apparently there were chandeliers in the temple court which I believe were there to serve as a reminder of how God had guided the Israelites through the dessert with a pillar of fire. And possibly Jesus used these lights as some kind of prop that he pointed to.

            And he says: I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.

                        The Pharisees didn’t like what Jesus had to say, so they accused him of having no grounds for this statement. Because he is the one claiming to be the light. There were no other witnesses who were saying that he is the light of the world. He was just testifying on his own behalf.

            Jesus then tells them that he isn’t the only witness. The father who sent him is a witness.

            See what he says from chapter 8 vs 19.        

19 Then they asked him, “Where is your father?”

“You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” 20 He spoke these words while teaching in the temple courts near the place where the offerings were put. Yet no one seized him, because his hour had not yet come.

Dispute Over Who Jesus Is

21 Once more Jesus said to them, “I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come.”

22 This made the Jews ask, “Will he kill himself? Is that why he says, ‘Where I go, you cannot come’?”

23 But he continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.”

25 “Who are you?” they asked.

“Just what I have been telling you from the beginning,” Jesus replied. 26 “I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is trustworthy, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.”

27 They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father. 28 So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up[a] the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. 29 The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone,for I always do what pleases him.” 30 Even as he spoke, many believed in him.

So you’ve got this situation, where the Pharisees are having a go at him. Their real agenda is that they see him as a threat and they’re just trying to catch him out the whole time. They’re just trying to make him look bad. But their attempt to outargue Jesus isn’t having their desired effect. Look at verse 30.

            Even as he spoke, many believed in him.

Even though the Pharisees didn’t feel like he had a leg to stand on, there were definitely some who were convinced.

            Now this is all a preamble to the verses that I really want us to focus on this morning to get to know Jesus better. Verses 31-35.

            Vs 31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. (32) Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

            (33) They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”

            (34) Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. (35) Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it for ever.

            So what does this passage tell me that will help me get to know Jesus better? What can I get out of this window into the life of Jesus, that will help me get to know Jesus better. Help me get to know him more personally.

            There are 2 concepts here that Jesus talks about. They are concepts that are directly related to Jesus. They are 2 concepts or 2 ideas that every human being in the world longs for. And it’s only in Jesus that those 2 can be found and experienced.

            Look at verse 31 and 32:

(31) To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. (32) Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

The two concepts are truth and freedom. You see Jesus is getting really bold here and he is saying that if you don’t believe in him. If you don’t hold to his teaching, then you don’t know the truth, and you’re not truly free.

            You don’t have truth and you don’t have freedom. But if you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.

Truth and freedom.

            So what is Jesus saying about truth?

            Jesus is saying here that truth is found in following him, and obeying him. In holding to his teaching.

The quest for truth nowadays is a big deal. And in the era that we are living in, it’s very politically incorrect to say that you have a handle on the truth, or to say that your truth is the right truth. So everything has become relative. We live in an age of tolerance. Where you believe what you want to believe and I’ll believe what I want to believe.

In fact this whole issue of tolerance and believe what you want to believe isn’t such a new thing anymore. In 1983 a famous actress, wrote a book about her experiences, and especially her spiritual experiences. And she had a spiritual guide. And in this book she asks him if he believes in reincarnation. And he replies :”It’s true if you believe it, and that goes for anything.”

Some search for truth through science. Some search for truth by using more of a mystical means. They go on some quest in the mountains, or they try some mystical eastern religion to try and find themselves, and to try and find the truth.

In this particular passage the Pharisees are using legal means to try and find the truth. They’re accusing Jesus of biasedly being his own witness. And their problem was they didn’t have access to all the evidence.

Jesus is telling them here that the truth is found in a relationship. In fact the truth is found in a person and that person is Jesus.

So how do you find the truth then? You believe in Jesus, and you hold to his teachings. In other words you trust him. You do what he says. You listen to the one who is saving your life.

Imagine you’re in an accident and you feel like this could be it, and a paramedic arrives on the scene.

And so they start giving you instructions. They doing their utmost to get you to stay awake.

So what do you start doing at this point? Do you start arguing with paramedic and saying, but wait a second. Someone posted on Facebook the other day that if you’re ever in an accident then it’s better for me to do this than what you’re telling me.

No, of course you don’t. You do exactly what this paramedic tells you to do if you want to stay alive. You listen to the one who is there to save your life. It’s like that with Jesus. We are dying. We need help. We can’t save ourselves. Jesus has come to rescue us. We hold to his teaching. We put our trust in him. We do what the one who is saving our lives is telling us what to do.

When Jesus talks about truth here, he’s not just talking about accepting intellectually that something could be true. He’s talking about accepting it, believing it, and obeying it.

A bit later on in the book of John, Jesus says to his disciples, “If you love me you’ll obey my commands.”

Have you done that? Have you put your faith in Jesus? Have you accepted the truth in such a way that it’s not just something you’ve accepted intellectually. You win every time you debate about it. But your life shows no evidence. If that’s the case, you’ve got to wonder if you’re really a believer in the truth.

Well, if you’re really a believer in the truth, the truth will set you free. In other words you’ll find true freedom.

Now when Jesus made that comment to those, whom we are told had just put their faith in him. They were a bit confused. Look at verse 33:

33) They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”

            I suspect that some of the Jews would have felt a bit insulted by Jesus’ comment here that they needed to be set free. If you look back at the history of Israel, they would have been slaves on a number of occasions. Technically they weren’t slaves now, but they were still living under the rule of the Romans.

            So they would have been wondering what it is they needed to be set free from? And Jesus is quite clear that they need to be set free from sin. Look at verse 34.

            (34) Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.

So everyone who sins is a slave to sin. And here’s the problem. Everyone sins. Therefore everyone is a slave to sin. This is something that we all need to be set free from.

And this is the worst kind of oppression that anyone could ever be under. Slavery under another nation, that’s nothing compared to being slave to sin.

I don’t know if you’ve realised it, but sin can rule your life. When Jesus talks here about being a slave to sin, he’s talking about sin being your master. You’ve been oppressed by sin. And when you die you’re going to die a sinner’s death.

But this whole thing about being a slave to sin, plays itself out in so many ways. If you’re driven to do something out of a selfish need, that’s the power that sin has over you. If you’re driven to do something out of greed, you’re letting sin master you. If you’re driven to do something out of lust, you are being mastered by sin.

But sin has a hold on all of us. Even as a Christian, you still experience sin trying have a hold on your life. But you need to realize that you’re free from that. You’re not a slave to sin anymore. And it’s liberating.

           

(35) Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it for ever.

Jesus is saying here that he is the one who is part of the family who can provide the freedom. You as a slave cannot free yourself. You can try. Only the son can free you and liberate you.

Remember what Jesus said earlier on in verse 23 and 24.

23 But he continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.”

A lot of people push back on wanting to bow the knee to Jesus, because they’d much rather be a slave to sin. They’d much rather do what they want to do, than listen to the one who has come to rescue you and save your life.

Do you see why Jesus could make a statement and say that ‘he is the light of the world’? Because that’s what he is. He’s come to rescue us, to provide us with hope.

We are surrounded by evidence that our hearts aren’t right. Especially as we’ve been reminded in the last few days, and as we are reminded everyday if we look at our world.

Our world needs hope. We live in darkness, and we need light. That hope, that light can only be found in Christ. Truth which leads to freedom, is found in Jesus.

If you do not believe that Jesus is who he says he is you will die in your sins. You will die a slave to sin. My prayer this morning is that no one who is here will die a slave to sin. Believe in Jesus. Trust the one who has come to save you.

If you’re here this morning and you do believe in Jesus. Is it just an intellectual thing, or have you invested your life in it. Have you taken the gospel, and you’ve said, the one who has come to rescue me knows best, and I’m going to obey him. I’m going to do what he wants me to do.

That is true freedom.


Questions:

Read John 8:12 & vs 31-35

  1. What do you think Jesus means when he says that he is the light of the world?
  2. Who is a true disciple? (vs31)
  3. What is it that sets you free? (vs 32)
  4. What kind of freedom did Jesus’ listeners think he was talking about? (vs 33)
  5. What do you think it means to be a slave to sin?
  6. How does Jesus free us from that slavery?
  7. Where in your own life do you see evidence of sin enslaving you?
    1. What should you do about it?
  8. What are the areas in our community where sin has enslaved people?
  9. If Jesus is the light of the world, how can we shine that light into our community, and share the truth that brings freedom?

                                                                                             

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