Sermon – January 19, 2020

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John 11:45-57 – Wrong Responses (mp3)

We are all wrong at some time in our lives. Whether we admit it or not, it is a typical state of affairs for most of us. To err, after all, is said to be human. However, there are some things that are more important to get right than others. For most of us, whether we have gotten a math problem right or wrong is not a life or death decision. When it comes to how we respond to Jesus’ miracles, however, a wrong response might not just cost us our lives here, it may just cost us eternally. Today in John, we get to see some of the worst responses to his miraculous work that the Gospels record; mistakes we can hopefully avoid!

1. Be alarmed by the wrong things and appeal to the wrong authority
Those who do not respond in faith go and tell the Pharisees, and are perhaps alarmed by the same thing the Pharisees are: the fact that so many are now believing in Jesus. They ought to be alarmed and in awe of Jesus himself: his miracles are powerful and evident. Yet, instead of searching the Scriptures to see what they are to make of this astonishing man, they appeal to the wrong authority to tell them how to handle it. Let us not look to other authorities for any full and final appeal. They can help us, but Scripture alone has the last and greatest word for us!

2. Adopt the wrong center and ask the wrong questions
The miracles change nothing for the authorities. They assume that they are right – that they are the center of the world. Jesus’ teaching and power does nothing to challenge that view. Because of this, they refuse to answer the right question. They know what to think of Jesus, or so they think, so the only real question is how to get rid of him. So long as we consider that we are ourselves the center of God’s revelation to us, and not Jesus, we will always ask the wrong questions of the text. Humble yourself, reader!

3. Acknowledge the wrong enemy and accept the wrong victory
The last problem is the perception of the wrong enemy. The Pharisees are worried about Rome. In being so preoccupied, they have forgotten their OT. The people continually have enemies while they are in the land, not because of those enemies, but because of their sin. Because of this, Caiaphas utters a prophecy that is both faithful to the witness of Scripture and Satanic in its intent. Jesus will indeed die so that the nation, and all God’s people, won’t have to. Yet, Caiaphas only means for his death to gain political advantage. Many times we do the same. We seek Jesus and use him only for worldly gain. Yet, his death provides so much more to us than this. If you understand your sin as your worst enemy, and accept death as its ultimate end, than Jesus’ victory over your sin and death is sweet victory indeed. One that deserves great praise and honor!