Who Are You Looking For? – John 7:33-36
By Pastor Lee Hemen
March 22, 2015
In the movie Alice In Wonderland by Walt Disney, the main character, Alice, meets up with the goofy Cheshire Cat. He appears first of all as a great big row of smiling teeth. She wants to know which way she should go, which road to follow in order to find the white Rabbit she has been chasing. He responds by telling her, “Well it depends on where you want to get to.” She says it doesn’t really matter, so he tells her, “Well then, it really doesn’t matter which way you go.” Then he begins a whole series of nonsensical statements concerning Alice’s desire to follow the White Rabbit. He finally tells Alice that “everyone is mad here.” I have discovered that this is the way a lot of folks live their lives, meaning that they are not sure what or who they are looking for.
Last time we left the chief priests and the Pharisees trying to arrest Jesus because he told them he was the Messiah in so many words. They fully understood what he meant and what he meant was that he was God in human flesh. In our day and age many folks are looking for someone or something to follow. They are looking for a cause. We find that misguided youth are trying to head to Jordan, Iran, and other places in order to join terrorists organizations like ISIS. I also learned this past week that there are Christians who are actively joining those who oppose these groups and are fighting on the other side. It makes one wonder what in the world or who are these people looking for. Let’s find out what happens in John’s gospel…
Herein John’s gospel we begin a crescendo in the life of Jesus that builds to his death, burial, and resurrection. He begins some of his greatest teachings concerning himself and confronting his enemies and detractors. His desire is to do the will of his Father and to complete God’s plan for mankind. His enemies want to thwart him at every turn, but they find their efforts difficult. I believe it is because…
I. They were confused as to where Jesus was going! (Vv. 33-34)
Jesus said, “I am with you for only a short time, and then I go to the one who sent me. You will look for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.”
1. As noted earlier, the leadership of the day were now actively trying to arrest Jesus and kill him because of his miracles and his teaching about God. Like many confused folks in our day, they did not understand who he truly was and what he was sent to do for them. Jesus was trying to let them know that he was only going to be with them only “a short time.” The time Jesus had left was determined by God and not the human authorities who wanted to murder him. His ministry would only last three to three and a half years. However, it’s impact would change the world as we know it. In our day and age there are those who are desperately trying to make Jesus into just another religious icon or figure. They do so because it then gives no credence to who Jesus was and where he came from, just as those in his day tried to do the very same thing. Not only would his ministry be short-lived, but he would return to the one who sent him, namely God the Father. We often forget that unlike those who follow Joseph Smith, Mohammed, Buddha, or any myriad of other dead folks, Jesus is alive and at the right hand of the Father in heaven making intercession for his followers. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit working in perfect harmony, making up one Godhead in three personalities to do the work and will of God Almighty! Israel would continue, as it does now, to “look” for the Messiah, but they did not find him then and they could not go where he was headed! Later on Jesus would tell his disciples, “The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. Men will tell you, ‘There he is!’ or ‘Here he is!’ Do not go running off after them. (Luke 17:22-23 NIV)” In fact, during the last days, right now, Jesus warned, “At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ (Messiah)!’ or, ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. For false Christs (Messiahs) and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect–if that were possible. (Mark 13:21-22 NIV)” Even Peter, one of Jesus’ closest disciples, would be confused and later ask, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later. (John 13:36 NIV)” Like today, they were confused as to where Jesus was going!
EXAMPLE: Recently a Navy Chaplain was broadsided by his assistant, who is gay, with false charges and accusations of homophobic bigotry. The liberal left wants to tear down the wall of moral Christianity and make it inconsequential and it begins by shifting the sands of behavior and making ungodly behavior normal and godly morality abnormal. Sin loves to hide in the respectability of the masses. However, if Jesus is truly who he said he was and he is alive at the right hand of the Father in heaven, then his teaching that he is “the way, the truth, and the life” and that “no one comes to the Father” except by him has consequences if not followed. There are those who would love to convince you Jesus is dead and his religion is dead as well. We have to redo it into our image. Like today, they were confused as to where Jesus was going!
So many folks are spiritually confused in our day and age. They think Jesus is a momentary spiritual fix for their passing weekend depression, after all they do have to go back to work on Monday! There are those who are fooled into thinking Jesus is just another nice guy who taught nice things so we could be nice people. After all, can’t we all just get along? This ungodly confusion is not new. We discover that…
II. They did not fully understand who Jesus was! (Vv. 35-36)
The Jews said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we cannot find him? Will he go where our people live scattered among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks? What did he mean when he said, “You will look for me, but you will not find me,’ and “Where I am, you cannot come’?”
1. Hindsight is always 20/20, right? We can get frustrated and wonder why in the world these people were so spiritually dense. Yet, we forget the truth is right in front of many today and yet they still refuse to believe it. Remember what Jesus told the incredulous Nicodemus, “You are Israel’s teacher and do you not understand these things? I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? (John 3:10-12 NIV)” We should not be surprised when those who do not know Christ, do not understand his teaching. We forget that as believers in the Messiah, we live with an alternate worldview. Jesus would teach his followers, “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. (John 15:19 NIV)” I am sure Jesus sometimes wanted to bang his head on the nearest wall. We see the Jews confusion when they wonder, “Where does this man intend to go that we cannot find him? Will he go where our people live scattered among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks?” Now they did not mean the actual Greek people but rather the term “hellane” was a derogatory term for anyone not Jewish. Kind of like, “Those people.” Was Jesus going to go to “those non-Jews, those people?” Jesus could not go where they could not find him, so they could only think in earthly terms and suggest rather derisively that perhaps Jesus was going to go to the non-Jew heathen who needed some kind of spiritual teaching. Was Jesus going to go and teach the heathen? “Will he go where our people live scattered among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks?” And in fact, after his ascension, his going back to God the Father in heaven, his disciples would in go to the gentile heathens because his own folks would reject him! We who believe in Jesus as the Messiah today are the result of the Jews’ rejection of Jesus! His disciples indeed did go into all the world and teach Jesus’ gospel, his good news! They were so perplexed, they repeat their previous question, “What did he mean when he said, ‘You will look for me, but you will not find me,’ and ‘Where I am, you cannot come’?” They did not fully understand who Jesus was!
EXAMPLE: Jesus’ disciples would come to him later and ask him why he taught so often in parables. Jesus responded, “This is why I speak to them in parables: Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: ‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. (Matthew 13:13-16 NIV)” Like those today who have the entire truth of the Scriptures right in front of them but refuse to believe in Jesus, they do not fully understand who Jesus was!
Like today, they were confused as to where Jesus was going! And like today, they did not fully understand who Jesus was!
This article is copyrighted © 2015 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.