Sermon – July 16, 2019
We would like to think that we are part of the most knowledgeable time in history. We have the facts of history at our fingertips; we have pictures of matter from billions of light years away; we have the ability to take pictures of atoms and watch the movement of light; we can hear and watch news, instantaneously, from across the other side of the world. We know the big and small, the far and near, with more accuracy and depth than ever before. And we still know next to nothing. Friend, our lack of true knowledge means we must be shown what is truly good and truly true; and that in being shown, we must believe.
Sinful human knowledge is rooted in:
1. Uncontrolled confusion. Some of the crowd seemed to understand that Jesus’ life was in danger; others seemed to have no idea. This is not confusion on John’s part but on the crowd’s. The news was reported to some, not others. Perhaps some believed what they heard, not others. We are not much different. News stories get confusing coverage, different organizations present them differently, leave out some facts, edit some videos. True and good information is hard to come by. Our knowledge is always limited because we live in a world that is confused and confusing.
2. Unreasonable reason. Perhaps reliance on reason might be able to overcome such factual deficit. But the reality is it can’t. The crowds here reason well: if Jesus is preaching openly, and the authorities aren’t coming after him, perhaps they think he is the Christ! While good reasoning, it has led them to a perfectly wrong conclusion. This is the problem with reason – it can be used correctly and still lead to bad conclusions. Reason gives us no true knowledge.
3. Untrustworthy teachers. But, maybe the authorities are truly in the know; perhaps they know something that we don’t! The crowds seem to be relying upon them – as if they could trust this Jesus so long as the authorities do. But the teachers have no more information at their fingertips than the crowds. They don’t have an inside track. Neither do modern teachers. We are not to be believed because we have degrees or because others have donned up with authority. If we want to know God, truly know God, no human authority will do.
4. Unreliable reading. And no human authority will do because we are all sinful in our reading of Scripture. The idea that no one will know where the Messiah is from is not biblical, but based off of tradition. And what’s more, it is antithetical to Scripture (cf. Micah 5:2). We all tend to read God’s word wrong; to twist it for our own purposes and pleasures. Sin, again, distorts our understanding of God and his work in the world. We get no useful information out of even his revelation on our own!
5. Unfathomed Fatherhood. Jesus seems upset, as he lifts his voice and asks, rhetorically, if they really do know him or where he is from. Of course, they think they do, but to truly know Christ is to know the one who sent him. They, as John has shown and said, do not know God, and indeed can’t know God.
Yet, in a glorious and terse exposition of the gospel, Jesus says “I know him. . . he sent me.”
We no longer have to live in ignorance, for one has been sent to us to show us the Father. This was Jesus mission, and he has accomplished it with perfection. To see him is to see the Father, to know the gospel is to know the Trinity, in all its beautiful complexity and love.
So we have two choices:
Bail. We can bail on Jesus. We can turn away from the knowledge that only he can give, assume we know better, or just act like we do. We bail when we read the Bible thinking we know better; we bail when we believe we know enough; we bail when we let the world form our world for us.
Believe. Or, we can simply trust him. Faith is not the opposite of knowledge, it is the right response to a lack of knowledge. We believe because, like these other simple folks, we realize that we know so little, but see in Jesus all we’ll ever need to know. He is worthy of your trust and devotion, for he will die for your sins, knowing the justice and love of the Father, and can give you eternal life. Those who are simple – run to him and become wise!