The life, testimony, ministry, and teachings of one Jesus from Nazareth
As we come to the end of John 15, a few verses pop out at me as an important word for us.
“If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father.”
In this passage, Jesus is speaking of the world and more specifically the Pharisees who persecuted and hated Him despite the signs and wonders He had done among them. They were the descendants of Abraham, the treasurers of God’s promises, the academic elite, and the ones to whom the entire nation of Israel looked to for spiritual knowledge and guidance. The Pharisees knew all the promises about the coming Messiah, but when they finally saw Him they rejected Him and refused to believe that Jesus was the One. Amazing right?!
The men who knew the most about the God of Israel in the entire world not only completely missed the Promised One, but also hated Him and set out to destroy His work! With the perfect clarity of over two thousand years of hindsight, we ask how could the Pharisees so obviously miss the one they were looking for and zealously seek His demise? Jesus gave us a clear answer when quoting Isaiah 29:
“This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.”
The sad truth is that the Pharisees had all the head knowledge and thought that they knew the Father, but in reality were completely clueless about the God they claimed to worship and, therefore, missed the Redeemer of the world and failed to recognize the God of their fathers while He walked on earth. And this is an important lesson and warning for us. Like the religious leaders of Jesus’ day, we can study all the Scripture we want and accumulate an impressive biblical knowledge base, but if we don’t truly, personally know the God we’re studying we also will miss the purpose of the gospel. And this is a dangerous place to be! Back in John 15, Jesus said that now that the Pharisees had seen and heard the truth and yet still rejected Him, they have no excuse for their sin and are thus completely guilty of willful unbelief. We don’t want to be guilty of sin while we’re trying to learn more about the One who came to rescue us from it! And even though the Pharisees got to physically see and hear Jesus, we have had the opportunity to encounter the Risen Christ through the pages of His word, and, like the Pharisees, are now without excuse.
Therefore, I ask you…how have YOU been changed and transformed by your study of John? Are you guilty of being a Pharisee by honoring God through the time you’ve devoted to His Word, but kept your heart far from the truths and convictions found in that study? Or have you been a true disciple who’s drawn near to the feet of Jesus to hear all He has to share and who’s taken to heart all that the Lord has shown you? Which are you?
The purpose of this message is not to discourage or make you question your faith, but to give each of us a moment to stop and take time to examine our hearts and make sure that they’re in the right place with the correct motives. For Paul encourages and exhorts us in II Corinthians to:
“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!”
So examine your heart, and see where you stand. For if our hearts are not where they ought to be than everything else is of no value and matters little in God’s eyes! And remember that though we might not always see the spiritual growth in ourselves from one point to another, God’s Word NEVER returns void. It always brings forth all that He wills and succeeds in all that He sends it forth to do. So with a right and open heart, be faithful to the Living Word and know that only things that matters into eternity is whether we are in the faith. This is the only thing that God cares about!
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”