Not of this World! – John 8:21-29
By Pastor Lee Hemen
May 10, 2015
Moms are not of this world. They must have some kind of internal sensor system that lets them know when their offspring have stopped hearing their genteel suggestions. I know this to be true because my Mom used to tell us, “You’re not listening to me!” as a child. I often wondered how in the world she could know that I wasn’t listening to her. Was it the glazed look in my eyes, the impatient wiggling, or the constant yawning? Whatever the clues, she knew I was spaced out and not listening.
Jesus had the same kind of problem with his detractors; they simply refused to hear what he was trying to teach them about himself. In this section of John’s gospel we find Jesus confronting the deaf ears of his enemies. They simply refused to understand that he was not of this world, let’s discover for ourselves what occurred and why it is important for us this morning.
My mom often had words of wisdom she would impart to us. Things like, “If you don’t hear what I am telling you, young man, you will afterwards!” She knew we could either listen and do what she said or be disobedient and not listen and not do what she asked us to do in the first place. If we didn’t listen, we would suffer the consequences of our decision. Here in John’s gospel we discover that…
I. They refused to listen to the words of Jesus! (Vv. 21-24)
Once more Jesus said to them, “I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come.” This made the Jews ask, “Will he kill himself? Is that why he says, “Where I go, you cannot come’?” But he continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.”
1. Jesus is now trying to get his fellow Hebrew brothers to listen to him but they are having none of it. His words were falling on spiritually deaf ears. They had already decided that they would not listen to Jesus and they were determined not to do so. So, “Once more Jesus said to them, ‘I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come.'” He would go away, by dying on the cross even for those who were not listening! If they would only listen and believe, they would know the truth for themselves! Jesus’ is trying to relate to them that they might try to look for him again, but they would not find him. Perhaps it was a cryptic reference to the empty tomb and it would be too late after he was gone because they would “die in [their] sin” because of their unbelief in Jesus as the Messiah! How sad to know his own people would be so spiritually deaf they would refuse God’s ultimate gift! And how truly sad that even today there are those who think they know better than Jesus, they know what true spirituality is, they know Jesus died for their sin of unbelief and yet they refuse to listen! Notice Jesus’ comment makes them ask some truly ignorant questions, “Will he kill himself? Is that why he says, ‘Where I go, you cannot come’?” Jesus wasn’t going to commit suicide; instead he would willingly lay down his life for all mankind! Jesus continued by telling them exactly what the problem was, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.” Those who love the things of the world more than they do the things of God have a hard time in listening to the truth of God’s word. They were more concerned for themselves than for the things of God! And the same is true this morning as well for anyone who refuses to listen to the words of Jesus!
EXAMPLE: “You’re not listening to me!” my mother would relate to my brother and me. Often it was after she had told us to stop fighting, clean up our room, go outside, come inside, or to stop doing what we were doing that was driving her nuts. Listening for my mother meant understanding the intent and content of what she was relating to us and then immediately acting on what she had just imparted to us! If we did not, we suffered the consequences of our refusal to listen and understand her words! This would happen to the Israelites because of their attitude and actions as well! They refused to listen to the words of Jesus!
My Mom told us one time when we were being kind of disrespectful toward her by not listening, “You are walking on thin ice.” It was her way of warning us that she was about to crack and rain all over our parade. We were failing to understand our condition just like the Israelites were in John’s gospel…
II. They did not understand their spiritual condition! (Vv. 25-27)
“Who are you?” they asked. “Just what I have been claiming all along,” Jesus replied. “I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is reliable, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.” They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father.
1. Like a lot of us who get caught doing something we know we should not be doing, or in this case, not listening like we should, Jesus’ detractors use the age-old comeback, “Who are you?” Kind of like, “Who are you to try and tell us we will die in our sins!” It is the same kind of remark I often get from folks who get angry over their own spiritual deafness who all of sudden realize they are wrong about what they believe but refuse to admit it and retort, “Who are you to judge me!” Can you imagine the frustration Jesus had to have felt at this time? His own people, whom he loved, lived for, would die for, and to whom he desperately would try to win over and who he would sacrifice himself for are deliberately refusing to understand his words! Like rebellious children who refuse good advice because they know they are wrong, but refuse to admit it, they turn away from eternal salvation! When they self-righteously demand, “Who are you?” Jesus responds is, “Just what I have been claiming all along!” He had no hidden agenda, no secret mysteries, and nothing to hide from them! In fact, if they would only listen and understand, he had “much to say in judgment of” them! Not to condemn them, but to gain their salvation from their sin because he was trying to relate to them what he had “heard from him”, his Heavenly Father! They needed to understand that it would be their sin-condition that would condemn and judge them. God was indeed “reliable” to the Jews just as he had always been throughout their history and now he had sent them the Messiah that they needed at just the right time! And in fact, Jesus relates, “What I have heard from him I tell the world!” He was actively sharing his gospel to anyone who would listen to his words and understand them! How sad again to know that “They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father!” They did not understand their spiritual condition!
EXAMPLE: My Mom liked the line out of the movie Cool Hand Luke with Paul Newman where the prison warden calmly relates to the prisoners, “What we have here is a failure to communicate.” She would use this line on us when she thought she was not getting through to her unruly brood of two boys. I had to laugh because I used the exact phrase the other day when dealing with a malcontent on the playground! He refused to listen to what I was trying to calmly tell him. There are those in our day, just as in Jesus’ day, who refuse to listen and understand their sin-condition! The Jewish leaders did not understand their spiritual condition!
My Mom used to tell us, “You think you are so smart, just wait until you are as old as I am.” Of course ti did not help the situation when I would quip, “No one is that old!” What she meant is what Jesus ws trying to impart to his listeners here in John’s gospel, namely that…
III. The proof is in the pudding! (Vv. 28-29)
So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.”
1. The proof is in the pudding. Ever wonder where that saying came from? It is actually a mangled form of the original phrase, which was “the proof of the pudding is in the eating.” A dish may have been made from a good recipe with fresh ingredients and look delicious, but you can really only judge it by putting it in your mouth. The actual taste is the only true criterion of success. It dates back to 1605 and the shortened version became popular in the 1950s here in the USA. Jesus was basically telling his detractors that “the proof was in the pudding” when he replies to their demand, ” When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.” They would understand one day soon that what Jesus said was true. Jesus knew what he spoke to them was true because he only repeated what he heard his Farther say to him concerning their salvation! He only spoke what the Father taught him! He did not come up with something new on a whim or to try and fool them into thinking he was the Messiah. In fact he would tell them that he was absolutely sure of what he taught because, “The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.” Now we all can claim a lot of things about ourselves, we can make up stories to try and impress others, but Jesus would never have done so. His ultimate proof was his death, burial, and resurrection! Why would he make up some absurd tale to try and gain followers when he would die a horrible death! The recipe he was making came from the ingredients he was proclaiming and the instructions came directly from God the Father, now it was up to the Israelites to believe it or not. The same is true for all of us. The proof is in the pudding!
EXAMPLE: My mother had a recipe box full of her favorite recipes. In fact, Katie and Denise both have some of the favorite recipes of Thelma’s. In this giving and using of those recipes is a wonderful truth we also find here in John’s gospel. A good recipe is only as good as the one who follows the directions that were given by the one who gave it in the first place. Jesus followed the directions of his Father. In fact, you may not know if what you are making is as good as the original until you have tried it yourself. You know, taste tested it like your faith in Jesus. It is no good until you taste the Lord and see that he is good and what he says about himself is true or not. The proof is in the pudding!
They refused to listen to the words of Jesus! They did not understand their spiritual condition! The proof is in the pudding!
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.