Judge Rightly that You Be Not Judged (John 7:1–24)

“Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”

—John 7:24

Many have submitted that Matthew 7:1 has usurped John 3:16 as the most known and quoted verse of the Bible. “Judge not that you be not judged.” The irony is, the verse is quoted in bad judgment. Jesus there was a warning against hypocritical judgment. Any other use of the text is a misjudgment.

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye,” (Mathew 7:1–5).

Jesus doesn’t recommend altogether ignoring the speck in your brother’s eye, but a hypocritical judgment thereof. Further, Jesus follows that admonition with a judgment-necessitating command: “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you,” (Matthew 7:6). Jesus is not anti-judgment. Judgment is inevitable.

While we shouldn’t presume to act as a god, standing in judgment, dealing out condemnation where we are given no authority, we must recognize that a creaturely discernment kind of judgment is necessary on a variety of levels every day. Try drinking milk from this point forward without ever making judgment beforehand. If you don’t judge it before you drink, I’m certain you will once it is in your mouth. Judgment is inevitable. Sour milk is bad.

In this text, Jesus calls for the crowds, and us along with them, to make right judgment. Astonishingly, He calls for us to make a right judgment about Him. This is not to say that we are the judge of Jesus. It is to say that in the courtroom of our soul we do make a judgment, a determination. You discern and decide. Discern rightly. Judge rightly.

If you judge rightly you will realize this: you don’t stand over Jesus to condemn Him; you stand under Jesus as one condemned. Right judgment about Jesus comes to this conclusion: He is the eternally begotten Son of God, the Christ who took on flesh, who was crucified for sinners, who rose conquering death, who is seated in the heavens at the right hand of the Father, and who will come again to judge the living and the dead.

How do we make right judgment? We must not judge according to appearances (7:24). We are short-sighted. We cannot trust our perception. We need the testimony of another. We need the testimony of an authority. The greatest judgment we will every make must be determined by the greatest authority. Because we are making judgment about the ultimate authority, we need the testimony of none other than that ultimate authority. Our triune God has born witness to Himself. Do not trust your perception. Receive His revelation.

Judge wrongly who Christ is, and you will be truly judged. Judge rightly who Christ is and you will never face judgment, for Christ has born it in your stead.

Rejecting Jesus for a Little Truth (John 6:41–59)

41 So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”

—John 6:41–42

Very often truths can be the worst of lies. Partial truths can be twisted into whole lies. Yes indeed they know His parents. Joseph is indeed His father, but He is His adoptive earthly father. Mary is indeed His mother, but hers was a virgin conception of the Christ child. They know his parents. This is the “come down” part. It is absolutely and marvelously true, but it is gloriously true because it is not all the truth.

Jesus has come down as He who is from heaven. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. …And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth,” (John 1:1, 14). Jesus is God the Son incarnate. Remaining what He was He became what He was not. He is Yahweh tabernacling among us in a tent of flesh. He is the bread that came down from heaven.

Knowing a little truth about Jesus can be dangerous. It can result in grumbling instead of gratitude. It can mean the difference between feasting with gratitude and enjoying eternal life, and grumbling about the bread of heaven to know spiritual famine eternally. Beware a little knowledge of Jesus. How often the atheist or the pagan rejects Jesus as the bread come down from heaven for a little truth about Jesus which they then regard as the whole truth. How many find out a little about Jesus, a little about Bible manuscripts, a little about creation, a little about science, a little about history, a little about the church, and then they draw big conclusions and make big decisions with big consequences all for that little knowledge.

The Lord Jesus Christ, because He is God the Son, is incomprehensible. You cannot exhaustively know Him. You cannot ever master Him. Eternity is not enough to plumb infinity. It is folly for the finite to try do so in time. But do not fail to be thoroughly acquainted either. Strive to know the Lord Jesus Christ as He has revealed Himself in the word as much as you can. Do not reject Jesus for a little truth. Zealously seek out He who is the Truth.

No Appetite for a Hot Cross Bun (John 6:22–40)

34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” 

35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.

—John 6:34-36

In John 6 we see a crowd that goes from eating miraculous bread (vv. 1–15), to asking for the wrong bread (vv. 21–40), to grumbling against the right bread (vv. 41–66). This is how close one may get to the bread of heaven only to hunger eternally in hell. You may graciously receive bread from the hand of Christ, earnestly seek and inquire after Him, and fail to truly come to Him, receive Him, and believe Him.

This is because while the natural appetite of sinful man does hunger, it hungers wrongly. While the crowd does go from eating miraculous bread to asking for the wrong bread to grumbling against the right bread, we mustn’t think that their sin developed; rather it was made manifest. Their craving was wrong from the beginning. They were following Jesus, we were told, “because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick,” (v. 2). They were following Jesus. This sounds like discipleship, like the disciples who followed Jesus in chapter 1. But this crowd follows because they saw the signs. This sounds like the Jews Jesus refused in chapter 2 and the Galileans He rebuked in chapter 4.

“Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man,” (John 2:23–25).

“Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe,” (John 4:48).

This is set in contrast to the Samaritans who “believed because of his word,” (John 4:39–42). 

This crowd was sign-seeking, and after not simply seeing a mighty sign, but eating their fill of one, they are also king-making. They are a sign-seeking and king-making people, (v. 15).

They rightly see that they are in a wilderness; a desolate place Mark calls it (Mark 6:32). They see the bread. They perhaps notice the twelve baskets left over. They are organized as a camp around Jesus as Israel was encamped around her king in the wilderness. And thus they rightly exclaim, “this is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world” (v. 14). They refer to the Prophet like Moses spoken of by Moses in Deuteronomy 18:18–19. But kingship is neither theirs to grant nor Jesus’ to lack. Like Satan, they offer Jesus a crown without a cross but in exchange they want a king on a string. Here is their major failure, here is essence of their sinful appetite: they want Jesus for bread, but they don’t want Jesus as the Bread. They want Him to break bodies. They don’t want His broken body.

The Walking Is Not a Speed Bump (John 6:1–21)

John 6:5–7 (ESV)

Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little.”

—John 6:5–7

As the fourth sign of feeding the five thousand coasts along from the sign itself (6:1–15) towards its significance (6:22ff), we may feel that the fifth sign of Jesus walking on the water is an unnecessary speed bump. Why it is here? Yes, it is chronologically sequential and explains how we get from one side of the sea to the other with the same crowd. This is true, but we’ve only relocated the question. This tells us something of why John wrote the story this way, but why does the Father write it this way? Why does the Father ordain that the walking happen now? Why does he pave the road from here to there with what seems to be a speed bump in between? Why didn’t Jesus in this instance just get into the boat and go to the other side with the disciples and retire to a solitary place thereafter?

If there is one word that more than any other links the feeding to the walking and the talking, it is the word “test” (v. 6). Jesus said this to test him. Only in John is the question directly directed to Philip, who hailing from the nearby town of Bethsaida, would best know where bread could be procured for such a crowd. In the Synoptics, this problem is put to all the disciples. You can see that here too as Andrew feels free to pipe in and as all the disciples are given commands to deal with the need. Jesus tests Philip. Philip stands in for all the disciples. Jesus is testing them. What is Jesus testing? Mark spells it out for us as he links the walking with the feeding. 

“And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.”

—Mark 6:51–52

They did not understand the feeding, but after the walking the lesson begins to set in. Their tested faith being found lacking, is now tested by water, and comes out cleaner on the other side. Matthew tells us, “And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God’” (Matthew 14:32–33).

Does John really intend to demonstrate that the faith that faltered in the feeding is strengthened by the storm? On the other side of the sea, when many depart from Jesus as He unpacks the significance of the feeding, Jesus turns to the twelve and asks, “Do you want to go away as well?” This time it is Peter who speaks for the twelve. He replies, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

John tells us that this gospel is written to put these signs before us that we might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that by believing, we might have life in His name. These signs are for faith. They are not only for sowing faith in the barren hearts of unbelievers. They are for strengthening the established faith of those who believe. These signs are both for the budding and the blooming of faith.

The walking is no speed bump in-between the feeding and the talking. It is wind in the sails of the disciples’ faith bringing them to the other side.

When Jesus Calls Witnesses (John 5:30–47)

31 If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not true. 32 There is another who bears witness about me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about me is true.

John 5:31–32

C.S. Lewis wrote, 

“The ancient man approached God (or even the gods) as the accused person approaches his judge. For the modern man the roles are reversed. He is the judge: God is in the dock. He is quite a kindly judge: if God should have a reasonable defence for being the god who permits war, poverty and disease, he is ready to listen to it. The trial may even end in God’s acquittal. But the important thing is that man is on the Bench and God in the Dock.”

Very true, yet, we might say Lewis gave the ancient man too much credit. While our Lord walked this earth, as the Jews were constantly “judging” Him, they were expressing a sin with roots running all the way back to Eden. In trying to be like God, we treat God like a man. We sit in judgment. We might still believe in a God who is judge, but we’ve remade Him in our own image so that we fare better under His judgment. We have tried to flip the court. 

Jesus flips it back right side up. He calls forth witnesses. Witnesses to His identity. When Jesus calls witnesses, it is essential we remember who sits in the dock.

Man is not without a witness to God, and thus, man stands in the dock as guilty for rejecting this witness. All have the witness of general revelation. This is a revelation of given generally to all men through creation, providence, and the conscience. Romans 1:18ff tells us that the eternal power and divine nature of God is revealed to all men. Further, because men suppress this truth, the wrath of God is revealed against them for their doing so.  Look honestly around at this world under the curse and left in its sin and you cannot deny this conclusion: God is powerful and God is angry. He is just. We are condemned. We are not without witness. We have witness not only to the eternal God, but to our infinite sin and of our cursed condemnation.

All men have this witness, but some also have the witness of special revelation. And though this revelation speaks even more clearly of our sin and our condemnation, it does so as a presupposition for another purpose. Special revelation testifies to the mercy and grace and redemption of the Triune God. It witnesses to these truths. This is the witness that has long been set before the Jews. And now in this text, with Christ, the light of redemptive revelation is nearing its zenith. Yet the Jewish authorities are blind. They are so blind, they think Jesus is in the dock and it is they who sit on the judgment bench as judge.

Dear souls, this is the witness that is set before you today in the Scriptures. Creation speaks of the glory of your God and the heinousness of your sin against Him and the terror of His wrath. Scripture speaks louder of this glory that you have sinned against but adds to it the glory of His redemption. In the light of this witness, there will either be a great salvation or a great sin today. Realize that you sit in the dock with the Jews. Do not try to flip the courtroom as they do. Do not think you are hearing witnesses called for you to stand in judgment over Jesus.

Jesus calls witnesses as one who stands ready to save you, a sinner already condemned. Graciously Jesus puts these witnesses before these men and before us. We are in the dock. Jesus testifies to Himself here. 

Receive Him and there is life. Reject Him and you don’t simply remain in your sin. Your sin has grown exponentially more deplorable and your judgment greater, for you have not just suppressed the witness of general revelation, but the witness of special revelation.

How you receive this testimony is a matter of life or death. Hear this witness, and you will leave the court graciously justified. Reject this witness, and you will leave justly condemned.

Jesus Visits a Healing Service (John 5:1–18)

Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years.

—John 5:2–5

Jesus, unlike modern faith healers, visited the sick ward. Joni Erickson Tada, after becoming a quadriplegic at 17, went to a Kathryn Kuhlman healing service where she was taken to the wheelchair section. The spotlight shone over the crowd, highlighting the many attesting to be healed, but Joni said the spotlight never shone on the wheelchair section. Kuhlman never visited the wheelchair section. Justin Peters, who has cerebral palsy, also went to faith healers at a young age and has a similar testimony. Jesus, unlike Benny Hinn, Todd White, or Bill Johnson, often went to the sick ward. He wasn’t afraid of being discredited or exposed as a fraud.

From this multitude, John singles out one man in particular. John singles him out because Jesus singled him out, (v. 5). This is no easy case. Here is a man who has been an invalid, suffering likely from some form of paralysis or extreme weakness, for 38 years. Jesus, seeing this man and knowing that he had been there a long time, doesn’t pass him by, but engages him, (v. 6). The Son shines a spotlight on this man in the wheelchair section.

Some manuscripts explain that an angel would visit the pool and something supernatural would follow (see vv. 3b–4 in the KJV). Instead of “Last one in is a rotten egg!” it was a game of “First one in gets a healed leg.” This explanation appears to be a later editorial gloss as it is only in some manuscripts and varies markedly among those that do contain it. I don’t believe it tells us why the pool was stirred so much as it tells us why they believed the pool was stirred. These poor souls had gathered for a healing service, and Jesus visited the wheelchair section. The multitude gathered here says the pool is inefficient at best or, more likely, that it is ineffective all together.

Jesus singled this man out. This man who has his poor-man’s pallet with him. He heals him and tells him not simply to rise and walk, but to “get up, take up your bed, and walk.” The seemingly benign phrase “take up your bed” would stir the pool of Jewish leadership. This would lead to Jesus stirring things up more by explaining that the reason He is working is because His Father is working. This work doesn’t count as work because it is a divine work. When Jesus cleansed the temple, they demanded a sign. Now, they have one, and they want to kill Him for it.

These signs were written so that we might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (John 20:30–31). The spotlight fell on this man so that the spotlight might fall on Christ. He is the Christ, the one who can deal with the curse of sin because He will deal with the sin of the curse. He is the Son of God, the only begotten, the eternally begotten, who was in the beginning with God and was God, and remaining what He was, became flesh.

An Unwelcoming Welcome (John 4:43–54)

“After the two days he departed for Galilee. (For Jesus himself had testified that a prophet has no honor in his own hometown.) So when he came to Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, having seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the feast. For they too had gone to the feast.”

—John 4:43–45

Here, a puzzling statement makes the following statement puzzling. Unfortunately, we’re tempted to grab the hammer and make the pieces fit instead of doing the hard work of finding out how they fit. Rather than knocking off the rough edges of the first piece, it is after connecting its oddity to the second piece (a piece that initially didn’t seem to go with it) that it comes to make sense.

Jesus departs for Galilee because, as He has testified, a prophet has no honor in his hometown. That’s puzzling. To hammer the piece in place, a number of clunky explanations are suggested. The most reasonable of these is that, as in the synoptic gospels, “hometown” refers specifically to Nazareth. Jesus goes to Galilee, but once there, He doesn’t go to that place He is shown no honor—Nazareth. My problem with this explanation is that Nazareth is nowhere in view, the context doesn’t give the slightest hint of Nazareth.

Instead, I believe that what was true of Nazareth is being expanded to apply to the region of Galilee. Galilee, alongside Judea, is being set in contrast to Samaria. What we see in both Judea and Galilee is the truth John introduced in John 1:11, “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.”

But the Galileans have a peculiar way of not honoring Jesus. They welcome Him. This isn’t puzzling in itself. It is puzzling in how it fits with the last piece. There is a way of welcoming Jesus that does not honor Him. The key word to unlocking what a dishonoring welcome consists of is the word “seen.” The Samaritans, we were told repeatedly, believed because of the testimony of the woman and the word of Christ (4:39–42). But these Galileans, like the Judeans, “believe” because of what they see.

“Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man” (John 2:23–25).

Not all welcoming is welcoming. Not all believing is believing. Not all receiving is receiving. And what distinguishes the true from the false is that in the false the eye is elevated above the ear. Marvel takes precedence over meaning. 

And so it is that Jesus is welcomed in many churches today where the eye is awed while ears remain deaf as the word of the gospel which is the power of God unto salvation is not proclaimed. Charismatic churches provide wonders. Evangelical churches have fog and lights. Even much of the young, restless, and reformed crowd has frequently proven to be more about hype than hearing. Such welcoming isn’t excited to receive the King, but the parade of gifts that come in His train. That this is so, that this is the correct interpretation I take to be clear in Jesus rebuff, “unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.”

Sinner, you do not need to see a sign for faith to be. You need to see the significance of the signs that are and believe. Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. John records these signs so that you may believe this truth and that by believing you may have life in His name.

Man Must Be Born from Above; The Son of Man Must Be Lifted Up (John 3:12–21)

Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

John 3:9–15

In the first part of the conversation with Nicodemus, Jesus speaks of what must be done to Nicodemus. In the second part of the conversation, Jesus speaks of what must be done for Nicodemus. Man must be born from above. The Son of Man must be lifted up. The Spirit must cause regeneration. The Son must accomplish redemption.

The transition from the work of the Spirit in Nicodemus to the work of the Son for Nicodemus happens with Nicodemus’ clumsy question, “How can these things be?” Jesus both rebukes and then answers Nicodemus’ question. 

“You must be born again.”

“How can these things be?”

“The Son of Man must be lifted up.”

The lifting up of the Son of Man is the how behind man’s being born from above. Regeneration is the Spirit’s application of the redemption accomplished by the Son. Because of the dying of the Son of Man, the Spirit makes men alive.

For man’s salvation, man needs the work of Christ for Him, and the work of the Spirit in Him. The Spirit must renew. For the Spirit to renew, the Son must be lifted up. The Son of Man was lifted up. Thus, the Spirit causes men to be born from above. And behind both the sending of the Son to redeem and the sending of the Spirit to renew is the love of the Father.

Here is how Paul spoke of these things in Titus 3:4–7. 

“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior [referring to the Father] appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

It Takes More than An Apple (John 3:1–12)

“This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”

—John 3:12

What are we to make of Nicodemus’ statement? He says nothing disagreeable. He says much that is true. He seems to be on the right trail. He is different from the other leaders. Yet, at this point, it is not enough.

He addresses Jesus as “Rabbi,” an honorable term for a teacher that means “master.” But compare his use of “Rabbi” to that of Andrew and the disciple who was likely John,  “Rabbi, where are you staying?” (1:38). Andrew and John address Jesus as Rabbi, wishing to be His disciples. Nicodemus does so, as one who believes he is His peer. This can be seen in his next statement.

“We know you are a teacher,” Nicodemus continues. Who is this “we”? The rulers, the Sanhedrin, the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The fisherman’s approach to the Savior, having received John’s testimony, expressed humility. Nicodemus however, lets Jesus know that they know. How nice it must have been to have their recognition, as though the brambles said to the tree, “Cousin Oak, we recognize you as a woody plant.”

Further, they know He is “come from God.” He is God-sent. And the reason they know this is, Nicodemus says, is because no one can do the signs that Jesus does unless God is with him. Instead of demanding a sign, as his infuriated colleagues did earlier, this Pharisee say that the signs Jesus is doing, they see them, and they testify that Jesus is “a teacher come from God.”

But when you begin to listen to Jesus’ reply, you sense something is wrong, but what exactly is it? I believe there are basically two things. First, Nicodemus is a man. Pause. Back up. Read this passage again, but beginning with 2:24 and then ignoring helpful, yet intrusive man-manufactured address markers.

“But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man. Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.”

Jesus doesn’t entrust Himself to Nicodemus. Yes, he speak to Him differently than He does the other rulers, Still, He also speaks to Nicodemus differently than He does Andrew or Peter or Philip or Nathanael. Something is wrong. Nicodemus is a man. Jesus knows what is in man. John has given us subtle clues that something is wrong inside Nicodemus. Light may be shining without, but there is still darkness within.

Second, Jesus is more than a man. Nicodemus confesses true things about Jesus, but he doesn’t confess Jesus. John wrote this book so that you might believe, not just select true things about Jesus as you might perceive them, but so that you might perceive the truth of who Jesus is and what He has done and thus believe in Him. John wrote for this purpose and thus the events that He records were for this purpose: so that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God.

Nicodemus’ statement is really a question. The very question that was put to John the Baptist in 1:19–23. The same question that was essentially put to Jesus when they demanded a sign. “Who are you?” Nicodemus recognizes Jesus as “a teacher come from God.” He fails to recognize Him as the Christ, the Son of God.

Know this, it is not enough to sincerely compliment Jesus with truth. Nicodemus is notably different, but he isn’t different enough. He must be born again. There is a way of complimenting and praising Jesus with truth, that falls flat. Nicodemus’ compliment falls flat, like that of another ruler. “And a ruler asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone’” (Luke 18:18–19). It does no good for a man to compliment Jesus as a man. You must worship Him as God.

How Believing Can Be Like Questioning (John 2:13–25)

22 When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken. 

23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing.

—John 2:22–23 (emphasis mine)

The two scenes of the temple cleansing end with the disciples “remembering” (vv. 17, 22). Their remembering sets up a contrast, not only with what has preceded, but with what is next introduced.

In the first instance, the disciples remembering is set against the sellers and money changers on one side, and the authorities’ questioning on the other. While the sellers are violating Scripture, the disciples come to remember it.

Second, their remembering is set again in contrast again with the authorities questioning and then with the crowds “believing.” The disciples’ remembering was a believing. The crowd’s believing was the kind that would forget. Not all believing is believing. The authorities demand a sign for belief. The crowds believe for a sign. Saving faith is the result of the work of God within a man. It matters not what wonders are done without. Remember Pharaoh?

Some of you question. You don’t believe in Jesus. You are outright opposed to Him. You might be religious. You might believe in God. You believe some good things about Christ. But as to the Scriptures’ central claims, you demand a sign. In some ways, yours is a healthier state, for you know how you stand in relation to the Christ of the Bible. But as creation testifies that there is a God and that you stand under His wrath, so too Scriptures testify that Jesus is the Christ and that there is grace for sinners if you would receive Him.

Do not demand a sign as though you were the authority. Bow before the one with all authority. He has spoken. He has spoken with all authority. He has spoken with a self-authenticating authority by His holy word. Your problem isn’t in your head. It is in your heart. The problem isn’t the absence of information in your mind, but the presence of arrogance in you heart.

Others though, your religion has all the right external markers. You come to the right place—the temple of the living God, the church of God with Christ as her head. You don’t question. You look to Bible and its signs and its wonders. You believe, but alas, you don’t believe. You believe only in the Jesus you want to believe in. Do you not see the same arrogance then lies in your heart? Instead of denying Christ outright, you shape Him how you will. 

For both, I pray you look to the Scriptures now, that you bow under them, that you sit under the Spirit’s teaching, and that you not only learn who Christ is, but that you believe in Christ, that you entrust your soul to Him. 

Who is this Jesus?

He is the zealous Son of the Father. Yes, there is grace in Christ, but know there is also anger, wrath, and judgment. Jesus will not compromise His love of His Father for His love of sinners. You cannot assume His love and redemption. Salvation was purchased by judgment. If you don’t trust in the one who bore judgment, you will bear it yourself. Jesus not only is the bearer of the judgment of God, He is the bringer of the judgment of God.

He is the temple that was destroyed by man, but raised for our salvation. Man in sin slew Him. God in grace raised Him. By His resurrection, the Father declared Jesus to be His Son. The verdict of man didn’t stick. The verdict of God lives eternal. Christ alone is the meeting place of God and man. He is the High Priest. He is the Lamb of God. He is the Temple. Only in Christ may sinners draw near to the Holy God of heaven, and in Christ, they draw near as sons.

He is the Passover Lamb slain for the people of God that judgment might pass over them. He is spotless, precious, perfect sacrifice. He is the substitute. Having no sin of His own, He bore the sin of others.

He is the Life. They destroyed the temple, but He raised it up. The darkness cannot conquer the light. The grave cannot keep Life in its belly. He is the resurrection.

He is the knower of men. He knows you as he knows these men. He knows you as he knew Nathanael. He knows not only who you are, but He knows who you will be, as He knew of Peter. He knows the sin and depravity and wickedness that are in your heart.

If you now know something of the truth of who Christ is, and thus something of the truth of who you are—flee to Him! Follow Him. Do not question. Do not believe in Him as you wish Him to be. Believe in Him as He is, and you will have eternal life.