Sermon – June 30, 2019
John 7:37-52 – The Benefits of Belief
We are often told that certain activities are bad for us: if we continue smoking, drinking the wrong things, or eating poorly, we face the prospect of early death. But these warnings are often blunted by the fact that we are always promised death – and what is a couple of years spent not doing what you love? Jesus promises something better, and thus his warnings have teeth, an edge that other warnings in our lives do not. Today, Jesus gives us a glimpse of the great things that await those who trust in Jesus, things that are available to us here and now. Let us today see these great promises of Jesus and hear the warnings of turning away from them.
1. Benefits of belief
Make no doubt: the benefits of belief are greater than we can imagine. What Jesus offers us in this short statement is the very presence of God with us, the very provision of all our desires. The picture is of a river about to overflow its banks, a super-sufficiency, overwhelming in its goodness. And this stream of goodness is in you – never to be taken and able to sustain you even in the desert of the world. This is a promise worth giving your life for. It is the promise that sin offers, but cannot fulfill even at its great price. Yet, our Lord, in his grace, offers it to us for free.
2. Results of rebellion
The authorities have been shown by John to desire Jesus’ arrest and death for quite some time. Yet, they have been thwarted in their desires, not because of a lack of trying but simply because God’s sovereign timing has not yet come about. But still, they rage in their rebellion. And although they claim authority, unity, and the high moral ground, it takes only one simply question from Nicodemus to shatter that image. So entranced are they by their own power, they will cling onto the scraps of this world rather than onto the superior gift that Jesus offers them. They are fools.
3. Mistake of the middle
And, in the end, these are the only two options. The crowd, what the ESV calls “people” in v. 40, is highlighted throughout chapter 7 in John. Of the 20 mentions of the crowd, 8 occur in this chapter, with 6 in chapter 12. After chapter 12 they are never mentioned again, as the only groups left are the disciples and the enemies. This is not accidental – everyone ends here. It is as if John is saying “you are either a disciple or an enemy, there is no middle ground. Either your life is Jesus’, or you fight him for it, but there is no third option.” We would do well to hear this! We might have confusion, and need questions answered. We might not understand how Scripture works in pointing us to Christ, but ultimately we must either believe in or stand against Jesus. Today, friend, is the day you decide.
Trust in him that your desires might be fulfilled with the very presence of God in you!