Pay Much Closer Attention

For Fear No One Spoke – John 7:10-13

I apologize that there is no audio available for this sermon. But you may read the text of this message from our January 30, 2011 – AM Service below.

For Fear No One Spoke – John 7:10-13
Series: John’s Gospel
Speaker: Kevin A. Pierpont

We all have opinions about our political leaders. If I was foolish enough to ask you what you thought of them you’d tell me. And we like to believe that what we think of them really matters. When in the end, what we think of those political leaders likely doesn’t change anything. 

But there is one man in particular of whom your opinion, what you think of him, and especially what you believe about him, makes a great deal of difference today and for your eternal future. We find people in our passage this morning who had their own opinions about this man, Jesus. 

10 But after his brothers had gone up to the feast, then he also went up, not publicly but in private. 

11 The Jews were looking for him at the feast, and saying, “Where is he?” 

12 And there was much muttering about him among the people. While some said, “He is a good man,” others said, “No, he is leading the people astray.” 

13 Yet for fear of the Jews no one spoke openly of him.

We noted it last week that God’s ways are not our ways. The worlds ways are not Jesus’ ways. Jesus would not go about things the way his unbelieving brothers would. It was not yet time for Jesus to face the kind of opposition that would eventually lead to his crucifixion. So we see in verse 10 Jesus going up to the feast not publicly in a way that would draw attention to himself, as his brothers suggested, but he goes up privately.

Why privately as verse 10 notes? His brothers had suggested in essence that if he wanted followers then he should go up to the feast and publicly show everyone the miracles he could perform. 

And it was a kind of solemn note that we heard sounded back in verse 5 that, not even his brothers believed in him. So in the worlds way, in an unbelieving way the way to get followers is to show them what you can do. 

But this was not the way Jesus would go up to the feast because he would only go up at the proper time and in the proper way so as not to circumvent the Father’s plan and timing. 

So how does Jesus now go up to the feast? He goes privately — meaning that he’s not going up with a large group of his followers — he goes to the feast discreetly so as not to attract unnecessary attention.

And verse 11 shows the wisdom of Christ in going up to the feast privately because the Jews — and in this case it means his enemies, the ruling Jewish authorities — were looking for Jesus. 

Why were they looking for him? They wanted to finally find him outside of Galilee, outside the authority and jurisdiction of Herod Antipas. And they hoped to find some reason, some evidence, that would expedite their doing away with him.

But in his sovereign wisdom Jesus did not go up to the feast publicly because it was not yet time for him to face the severe opposition of those who sought to kill him. Jesus does all things at the appointed time; at the right time. 

Now note that verse 12 indicates there are other people who were confused about Jesus. And some aren’t so clearly opposed to Christ as they are curious about him.

12 And there was much muttering about him among the people. While some said, “He is a good man,” others said, “No, he is leading the people astray.” 

Why were they muttering about him — and this isn’t so much complaining about him as it was quiet discussion about Christ for fear of being overheard — why the confusion, why the discussion?

It says that some believed that Jesus was a good man. After all, some had likely witnessed and many had heard of his miracles. This certainly isn’t indicative of wholehearted belief in him. But they knew enough of him to think, “he’s good — how can he be bad — look at what he’s done?” 

Is that true? Is Jesus good? Yes it’s true. Jesus is and was a good man. But that’s not the whole truth is it? Wasn’t Jesus much more than simply a good man? He certainly was much more. He was the God-man! 

In just one of many occasions we’ll see it when we get to John 11:25-26 that when speaking to Martha his claims are such that he’s making it clear that he is God.

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die…”

If this is true — and it is — then Jesus is far more than just a good man. But if this were not true, then He wasn’t even that. 

That’s where others quietly voiced their opinion — some of the crowd believed that Jesus was leading people astray — they thought he was a deceiver.

After all — he may have done some miracles, but Jesus certainly can’t be speaking for God — he must be setting up some devious plan. And because of this same feeling among the Jewish authorities there were some, as we learned back in verse 1 who were seeking to kill Jesus. They thought he was dangerous and needed to be removed. 

The reality of this threat is clear in verse 13 where it says of these people in the crowds that they were afraid to speak these things openly for fear of the Jews. We’ll see Jesus says it too that they are seeking to kill him when we get to verse 19. But this was not a new threat, months earlier the Jews were persecuting Jesus as we saw back in John 5:16.

Why the confusion about Christ? It wasn’t because of a lack of clarity on Jesus’ part. The confusion is the lack of faith — it’s the lack of belief in the message of Christ. 

Was there some shortcoming in what Jesus taught or His teaching style that led to confusion? No. Wherever there’s confusion about who Christ it it’s root is always disbelief; a lack of faith. 

Isn’t that what we saw when back in chapter 6 and verse 60 when many of those who were following Christ, witnessing His miracles, listening to his teaching, when he called for wholehearted devotion to him and faith in him they said,

60 …“This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?”

And it wasn’t as though they couldn’t understand him — it was that they didn’t want to believe him.

This crowd is, as commentator Henry Morris points out, “the uninformed majority, wanting to do the right thing but not sure what it is”. They are like the gentiles of whom Ephesians 4:18 speaks saying, 

18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.

Hardness of heart is the worst of all heart diseases. It keeps one trapped in a spiritual death. Hardness of heart and a refusal to repent of sin and believe in Christ results in the just judgement of God.

In fact those who refuse to believe, like those in this crowd trying to decide who Jesus is are like those of whom 2 Corinthians 4:4 makes clear, 

4 …the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

Confusion about Christ is the result of a lack of belief, spiritual blindness, and even a refusal to believe.

Now note that none of this discussion of who Jesus is was done openly, for fear of the ruling Jews, the priests and scribes. Why? Because it was dangerous to speak the name of Jesus openly. We’ve noted it. The Jewish authorities were out to remove Jesus — they wanted to kill him. So speaking in favor of Christ was dangerous. Even speaking about Christ would have been risky.

Evidently there was a real reason to fear openly discussing Jesus. The authorities didn’t want Jesus’ followers encouraged in their belief in him and they didn’t want even those who didn’t believe in him speaking his name for fear of giving Jesus more credibility.

It’s been said, the only bad publicity is no publicity. The Jewish leaders recognized that and didn’t want anyone speaking about Jesus.  

That’s still the way of Satan, the deceiver today. Naming the name of Jesus has become politically incorrect. Make the name of Jesus a risky and dangerous thing to say in public and you silence the truth behind that name. Make it a threatening thing for people to bring up the name of Jesus and you silence the teachings of Jesus. 

Why? We noted it last time. The reason the world hates Jesus and even hates the name of Jesus is because he spoke out against sin. Jesus called sinners to repent of their sin and believe in him alone for the forgiveness of sin. And speaking the name of Jesus today brings that same conviction of sin.

So opposed to this idea of a need for repentance is the deceiver that he entices sinners to oppose Christ. 

J.C. Ryle wrote of this that…

In the face of such a passage as this, the endless differences and divisions about religion, which we see on all sides, in the present day, ought never to surprise us. The open hatred of some toward Christ–the carping, faultfinding, prejudiced spirit of others–the bold confession of the few faithful ones–the timid, man-fearing temperament of the many faithless ones–the unceasing war of words and strife of tongues with which the Churches of Christ are so sadly familiar–are only modern symptoms of an old disease. Such is the corruption of human nature, that Christ is the cause of division among men, wherever He is preached. So long as the world stands, some, when they hear of Him, will love, and some will hate–some will believe, and some will believe not. That deep, prophetical saying of His will be continually verified–“Do not think that I am come to send peace on earth; I came not to send peace, but a sword.” (Matt. 10:34.) [http://www.gracegems.org/Ryle/j07.htm]

The question for you is this. What do you think of Christ?

Will you too be afraid to name the name of Jesus? Will you too be afraid to speak openly of Christ? 

Or will you live in obedience to the Word of God? Will you live your life in such obedience to God’s Word that your life speaks clearly of Christ? 

And will you speak openly of Christ to those who need to know that faith in Christ and repentance of sin is their only hope for today and eternity?