Are You Making Presumptions about Jesus?

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Have you ever had someone make a wrong presumption about you? Maybe they have made a presumption about you based on your weight, or your height, or your skin colour, or your age or your education? Maybe it is your family who has made presumptions about you and can’t see past what you once were to your potential? They see you as the awkward, helpless kid who lacks confidence. Or maybe they judge you by how you conduct yourself? My dad tells the story about when we were living in Chatham and these were the days before automatic payroll deposits so he would have to go into the bank to deposit his paycheck from the church. He would go to the same teller almost every time. One Saturday, my father was officiating a wedding and that same teller was invited to the wedding. She was so surprised to see my father up there on stage preaching and afterward came up to him. She said that she never connected the dots that he was a pastor even though his paycheck had the name Emmanuel Baptist Church written on it. The reasons why she never suspected him to be a pastor was in her own words, “Because you acted so ‘normal.’” He had her fooled because everybody knows that my dad is not a normal guy. He’s extraordinary. He just doesn’t act like He is somebody special.

Let me tell you about somebody even more extraordinary. This person was constantly battling wrong presumptions about Him! If there was anybody who has been more misunderstood, it is Jesus Christ. We find a myriad of presumptions about Jesus in John 7. Let’s read about these presumptions. Maybe you’ve even had some wrong presumptions about Jesus that will be corrected and this may even save your soul! If we get it wrong about Jesus, it will have dire consequences for us and the world. Today I want you to know truly who Jesus is – the Resurrected Saviour and Satisfier of your soul. As I read John 7, notice how Jesus is Saviour to those who want to kill him. Three times they want to arrest and kill him and what does Jesus do? Offers living water to them. Read John 7:1-39!

To understand this story and the presumptions about Jesus, we need to go back to when the Israelites had been rescued by God from Egypt after miraculously crossing the Red Sea on dry land. They then wandered around in the desert for nearly 40 years. Can you imagine spending 40 years in the desert waiting to get into a land flowing with milk and honey that God had promised? Maybe you haven’t had to wait for years to get into the Promised Land, but you have had to wait in your own wilderness? It’s tough! We usually look back at those times and think, “I never want to experience that again.” Which is why it seems so crazy that God required the Israelites to take statutory holidays for a whole week to remember their wilderness experience. In fact, God commanded the whole nation of Israel to take vacation at the same time. Long before assembly plants shut down for a week, God forced a shut down of His people’s productivity. As mandated by Leviticus 23:42-43, one week a year Israel would go camping and have to live in tents, “You shall live in booths for seven days; all the native-born in Israel shall live in booths, so that your generations may know that I had the sons of Israel live in booths when I brought them out from the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.” This was a national camping week. And what were they were to remember? They would remember how their forefathers were a bunch of freed slaves with no military prowess, little to no education, wandering with seemingly little purpose and led astray. All the while, they were thirsty and did not believe their brothers Caleb and particularly Joshua, when the two men proclaimed that God could rescue them. The Israelites even threatened to kill their deliverer Moses (Numbers 14:10).

Fast forward to when Jesus was on earth. He is just wandering and walking around in His home territory – the territory of Galilee (v. 1). But there were two problems for Jesus: 1) The Jews wanted to kill Him in Judea; and 2) The Feast of Tabernacles was mandated in the Law that every Israelite who was able to attend was required to go to Jerusalem in Judea. And yet there was another problem, His brothers. His brothers did not believe in Him and actually taunted and baited Him to go and show off at the Feast of Booths or the Feast of Tabernacles or Shelters as others call it.

There were a lot of presumptions about Jesus in this passage. Notice first how Jesus’ brothers thought He was weak. His brothers exhort Jesus in verses 3-4, “Leave here and go into Judea, so that Your disciples also may see Your works which You are doing. For no one does anything in secret when he himself seeks to be known publicly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.” Jesus’ brothers wanted Him to try and show off His supposed miraculous power because they didn’t believe in Him. Obviously, Jesus must have shown so much restraint as He grew up with them. He didn’t do a miracle a minute but tried to faithfully serve His family. However, despite Jesus’ example, His brothers had a worldly perspective – if you are so great, prove it! It reminds me that things haven’t changed that much for our families. Our families can push us to worldly success. They tell us, “Be that lawyer! Be that doctor! Be that professional athlete!” rather than living a quieter life on God’s timetable. What Jesus’ brothers probably didn’t know was that “Jesus had already turned down 5000 men’s demand to make Him king as we read in John 6:15,”[1] and so Jesus was not going to be baited into showing off, even if it was His brothers telling Him to do it. This led them to think Jesus was weak. And I’m guessing that some here today still think Jesus is weak and powerless. Many people don’t think Jesus has the power to change their situation, let alone the problems of the world. However, Jesus knows that just because people give you the proverbial “snowballs to throw, you don’t have to throw them.” Jesus wouldn’t cave into His brothers’ expectations or presumptions about Him to prove them wrong. This is one of the many ways I differ from Jesus. One of my motivations in life has been to prove people wrong. If I wasn’t a good skater in hockey, then I would try to out hustle people to the puck. If I wasn’t an articulate student, then I would study harder. I have lived much of life with something to prove. Can anybody relate? Not Jesus! He never needed human approval. Jesus’ action inspires our application: we have to do what God wants in His time even if our family thinks of us as weak!

Notice I said that we must do what God wants in His time, not our time. Jesus exemplified this to us. His response to His brothers is found in verse 6, “My time is not yet here, but your time is always opportune.” Jesus is a little cryptic here. He was wise enough not to tell His family everything. He knew their hearts were worldly and selfish. Verse 7 demonstrates Jesus assessment of His brothers’ hearts, “The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil.” And this is why Jesus let them go ahead to the Festival without Him, even though usually this was a family affair. However, as Warren Wiersbe has stated, “Our Lord lived on a divine timetable.”[2] Jesus says in verse 8, “Go up to the feast yourselves; I do not go up to this feast because My time has not yet fully come.” That reference to His “time” or “hour” always has a foreshadowing in the Gospel of John to Jesus’ time on the Cross. But for now, His brothers had no idea about the Cross, Jesus just seemed weak to them.

After the brothers left for the festival, Jesus goes as well so He could be obedient to the Law. He didn’t lie to the brothers. The NIV, NLT and KJV have the word “yet” in verse 8: “I do not go up to feast YET…” Jesus went later on in secret. However, despite this being a national festival to celebrate God’s provision from the desert, the people are grumbling about Jesus as verse 12 records. The crowds were divided as to who Jesus was. Some thought He was a good man, while others said He led people astray. The Jews in Jesus’ day were mimicking their forefathers in Moses’ day. Both grumbled against the Lord. Like father, like son! Grumbling was their M.O. when things got tough.

Despite this grumbling, Jesus teaches them. They were amazed at His teaching and wanted to know how He got to be so smart without an education, as verse 15 reports. You see, “teaching in that day was always substantiated by Rabbinic precedent.”[3] In other words, it was the practice to say, “Rabbi so and so, says this” and therefore it must be true. However, Jesus as the Word of God spoke directly from God and wasn’t concerned about Rabbinic validation. This shocked the people because He supposedly lacked ‘proper accreditation.’[4] Jesus responds by saying in verses 16-18, “My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me. If anyone is willing to do His will, He will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself. He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.” Jesus was not a glory hog. He wasn’t trying to steal any glory from God. He wasn’t like the rabbit that stole my wife’s Morning Glory flowers out of her garden the day after she planted them. No, Jesus says that His teaching came directly from God and was for God’s glory.

Then Jesus turns the tables and accuses the Jews of not keeping the Law and even trying to kill Him (v. 19). The people try to deny it in verse 20, but Jesus was not a conspiracy theorist – this was a real threat. He knows they ultimately want to kill Him. He brilliantly undercuts their thinking in verses 21-23, “I did one deed and you all marvel.” This is in reference to Jesus healing the man who had been ill for 38 years in John 5:1-17. That was the last time Jesus was in Jerusalem for a previous feast. They marveled at Jesus, but as Paul Tripp reminds us, “There is a significant difference between amazement and faith. God doesn’t just want to blow your mind; He wants to rule your heart.”[5] Marveling at Jesus may make a memory, but it doesn’t make you saved – you must believe in Him! Then Jesus refutes their criticism of healing on the Sabbath, “For this reason Moses has given you circumcision (not because it is from Moses, but the fathers) and on the Sabbath you circumcise a man. If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath so that the Law of Moses will not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made an entire man well on the Sabbath?” Circumcision was considered an act of joining in a covenant with God and the rest of Israel. But Jesus wanted to do more; He wanted to heal a man completely.

Then Jesus says this key phrase in verse 24, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” The entire chapter is about the Jews judging according to appearance rather than righteous judgment. They didn’t recognize their Messiah was right in front of them. In verses 25-31, they debate whether Jesus was the Christ or not. So Jesus makes this essential statement by crying out in a loud voice in verse 28, “You both know Me and know where I am from; and I have not come of Myself, but He who sent Me is true, whom you do not know. I know Him, because I am from Him and He sent Me.” Finally, the Messiah has come! He can show them God! They can actually know God! How exciting! But how do the Jews respond? They want to seize Him to kill Him. They have made another false presumption about Jesus – blasphemer! Yet, some believed in Christ as verse 31 records.

You see, if the Jews at the Feast of the Tabernacles were following exactly as their forefathers did – they would have found their Deliverer. Turn back to Exodus 33:7-10. We read how the Israelites were to live with eager expectation of encountering the Lord. They all had tents (get in tent on stage), “Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, a good distance from the camp, and he called it the tent of meeting. And everyone who sought the LORD would go out to the tent of meeting, which was outside the camp. And it came about, whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people would arise and stand, each at the entrance of his tent, and gaze after Moses until he entered the tent. Whenever Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent; and the Lord would speak with Moses. 10 When all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people would arise and worship, each at the entrance of his tent.”

You see, this Feast of Tabernacles was a yearly drama to remind the people that the Lord was to descend upon them. To aid this drama, “The temple area was illuminated by large candlesticks that reminded the people of the guiding pillar of fire and each of the priests would carry water from the Pool of Siloam and pour it out from a golden vessel, reminding the Jews of the miraculous and provision of water from the rock.”[6] (Exodus 17:1-7; c.f. Psalm 78:15-16) Jesus did better than the temple priest. He offered living water to the people, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.” By saying this, Jesus fulfills “all the Feast of Tabernacles anticipated”[7] and He would leave the permanent thirst quencher the Holy Spirit to live inside them. (v. 39)

You see, God was back! Through Jesus, He was dwelling or tabernacling among us and satisfying us with living water in the wilderness. Jesus is here for you in your wilderness – providing for you, not just your stomachs, but your souls.

But the key is knowing Christ! Maybe you have presumed that you know Him. You have dismissed Him as being weak, uneducated, not from the right stock, even a deceiver leading people astray. I am particularly talking to you listening on the internet and radio, you need to recalculate where you are heading in life, but more importantly come to a conclusion who Jesus really is – impotent and easily ignored or powerful Saviour and Lord. You need to repent and turn to Jesus as your Deliverer. This is true for those who haven’t crossed over to the side of faith.

But it is also true for those on the side of faith. Jesus came to Jerusalem for you too! You see the Messiah was to be revealed at the Feast of Booths according to Zechariah 14:16, “Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went up against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths.” I believe Jesus wants to reveal Himself to you in a fresh way today. Maybe you have thought Him too weak to work in your situation? Maybe you need to learn something new from Him? Ask Jesus, “What do you want to teach me today?” Maybe others of you need a filling of the Holy Spirit to overflow to others?

Today, turn from your wrong presumptions about Jesus. His brothers did after He died on a Cross and rose from the dead. They went from worldly mockers of Jesus to worshippers of Jesus. You and I can too. You see, Jesus came so we could really know Him. “The Word became flesh and tabernacled amongst us.” (John 1:14) He camps with us like that friendly neighbour. Jesus is relatable, but not normal. Jesus is extraordinary and wants you to know Him – your Resurrected Saviour and Satisfier of your soul.

[1] Warren Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary – Volume 1 (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1989), 315.

[2] Wiersbe, 315.

[3] D.A. Carson, The Gospel According to John – The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1991), 312.

[4] Wiersbe, 316.

[5] Paul Tripp, New Morning Mercies – June 27 (Wheaton: Crossway, 2014).

[6] Wiersbe, 314.

[7] Carson, 322.


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