Divided Over Christ

Late January and early February have been tough on our little church, but God has been faithful and seen us through the storms of life! I apologize for the lack of postings, but we are back and fully charged!

Divided Over Christ

Life & Light Community Church

Message from 2/11/2023

Life & Light Community Church began in the early months of 2020. What began as an opportunity for me, my wife and step-kids to continue to worship together, has now evolved into a ministry that has expanded to include close friends, family, and those who are simply hungry for the word of God. You can find us on Facebook, so please, feel free to reach out and join us.

“Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. Some of the people therefore, when they heard these words, were saying, “This certainly is the Prophet.” Others were saying, “This is the Christ.” Still others were saying, “Surely the Christ is not going to come from Galilee, is He? “Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the descendants of David, and from Bethlehem, the village where David was?”

So, a division occurred in the crowd because of Him. Some of them wanted to seize Him, but no one laid hands on Him. The officers then came to the chief priests and Pharisees, and they said to them, “Why did you not bring Him?” The officers answered, “Never has a man spoken the way this man speaks.” The Pharisees then answered them, “You have not also been led astray, have you? “No one of the rulers or Pharisees has believed in Him, has he? “But this crowd which does not know the Law is accursed.” Nicodemus (he who came to Him before, being one of them) said to them, “Our Law does not judge a man unless it first hears from him and knows what he is doing, does it?” They answered him, “You are not also from Galilee, are you? Search, and see that no prophet arises out of Galilee.” Everyone went to his home.

                                                                                  John 7:37–53 (NASB95)

It happens every Fall, in households across the country. We call it “a house divided.” The husband and the wife (or brothers, or brother and sister) are split, not in a marital, or relationship spat but in a dispute that is as old as time itself. The husband says he is right, it is his year! The wife disagrees, stating it is her year and he is going down for sure. The husband and wife remain in a heated battle for, at least, a week, and then the one who wins the battle, has bragging rights for a year. What is this dispute that separates family members for more than a week? It is the football game between two bitter rivals, one supported by one family member, the other supported by the spouse or other family members. It is simply a house divided, but today we are looking at a different kind of division.

The division we are looking at today, will again bring division to some homes, but it will also, absolutely, cause division in neighborhoods, cities, states, and even entire countries. We see this division in two groups within the passage we are examining today, the crowds and the Pharisees. This division will end up as the cause of death for many and be the saving grace for others! What could possibly cause such a division to occur and affect so many people? In a word, Yeshua, Jesus the Christ. This is the one name that mentioned in a room full of people, will cause the entire room to be Divided Over Christ.

Jesus invites those who thirst to come to Him for rivers of living water. As He speaks about the Spirit, the crowds argue over His identity. Some say He is the prophet, others claim He is the Christ, and still others claim He cannot be the Christ because He comes from Galilee. Even the Pharisees are Divided Over Christ as they seek to finally seize Him.

As Christ followers, we have received the Spirit because we have believed in Christ. Even in our day, many are Divided Over Christ, not because of where He is from but because we claim Him to be more than a man, more than a prophet or great teacher, and because He is the only way to the Father and eternal life.

In this message we seek to answer the question, “Why is it important for the Christ follower to understand the dangers for those who remain Divided Over Christ?”

The dangers for those who remain Divided Over Christ is that they miss His true identity and the opportunity for eternal life.

1). The danger for those who remain Divided Over Christ is they will not receive His Spirit.

The world does not recognize the Spirit, does not know the Spirit, and cannot receive the Spirit.

This final passage in chapter 7 finds Yeshua at the Feast of Booths, it is the last day of the feast known as the Last and Greatest Day. This Feast celebrated God’s care, protection, and provision during the desert wanderings. There is a ritual performed during this feast we need to know about to help us understand what is happening here. For seven day, in the morning, the priest carried a golden pitcher of water to the altar. As he neared the water gate, a shofar, a ram’s horn, was sounded. They made quite the show of bringing the pitcher of water into the Temple each morning! This was followed by the singing of psalms of praise and worship to God for the Fall harvest. Citrus fruit was used to symbolize the harvest just gathered.

Depending on the source one uses, this was done for six or seven days, on the eight day there was no water brought in, but on the seventh day the ritual was performed seven times to show the emphasis and concentration on prayer and worship. We should also note that the Sadducees were opposed to this ritual, this was fully a Pharisee-based ritual and following the singing a prayer was given for rain. This added element carried the meaning of the feast beyond the traditional emphasis of the desert experience. It is against this backdrop that Yeshua stands on the last and greatest day of the feast and cries out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.”

In crying out this statement, Yeshua is talking about the Holy Spirit, which John points out hasn’t been given yet because Yeshua had not yet been glorified. What then, is the purpose of making this statement? Yeshua states that it is those who believe in Him, as the Scripture said, that will receive this river of living water. Many believe that Yeshua may have been partially quoting a Psalm here but there are two other passages that actually fit this passage better. The passage Yeshua is quoting likely comes from Ezekiel 47:1-12. Here Ezekiel describes a river flowing out of the Temple – an angel who has accompanied Ezekiel measures the river as it grows increasingly deeper. Following this there is a vision of the future described by Ezekiel.

The desert region, along with the Dead Sea are seen to be flourishing. Because of this river of living water, the desert would become a place of life and healing. Zechariah 14:14-20 is a parallel passage to Ezekiel with one slight difference. The river of living water begins to flow in two directions – east and west! This passage also mentions one other important detail – this is an end times prophecy; the surviving nations will gather each year in Jerusalem to celebrate this very feast – the Feast of Booths. How does all of this tie into the Holy Spirit? Yeshua is the Source and Giver of Life. He is not only the source of water He is the Source of Living Water. This also make Him the Source of the Holy Spirit.

Yeshua says it is those who believe in Him that will receive the Spirit. This began with the Feast of Pentecost, a spring feast, found in Acts 2, and now comes as part of the new creation when a person believes in Christ. Why is it significant that Yeshua states it is those who believe in Him who receive the Spirit? As Yeshua prepares His disciples for His death and return to the Father, He teaches them about the Holy Spirit. This comes as the disciples are walking with Yeshua to the Garden of Gethsemane in chapter 14:15-17 of John. Here Yeshua spells out, quite clearly, why it is important to believe in Him, in order to receive the Spirit. In this passage the Spirit is called “another Helper” and “the Spirit of Truth.”

As He walks with His disciples, He explains that the world cannot receive the Spirit, they cannot see the Spirit, and they cannot know the Spirit. Why exactly, can the world not receive, see, or know the Spirit? Because the world has hardened their hearts towards God. When this happens people can no longer hear the call of God on their life. The world has rejected God the Father and/or Yeshua, the Son of God. If the world rejects the Source of the Spirit, how would they be able to receive the Spirit? The world calls evil good and good evil. Taking credit away from the Spirit and giving it to another is not only blasphemous, it is also spitting in the face of God. For these and many other reasons, the world simply cannot receive, see, or know the Spirit.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

How are you experiencing Yeshua as a river of living water during this season of life? If not, why do you think this is so?

How are you being a river of living water for others during this season of life? If you are not, why?

How have you experience the Holy Spirit as Helper or Spirit of Truth during your faith journey?

The dangers for those who remain Divided Over Christ is that they miss His true identity and the opportunity for eternal life.

2). The danger of those who remain Divided Over Christ is they continue to be deceived about the truth concerning Christ.

The world cannot know the truth concerning Christ because it cannot receive the Spirit of Truth.

Because the world cannot receive, see, or know the Holy Spirit, the world is unable to know the truth concerning Yeshua. We have two examples in this passage – the crowds and the Pharisees. After hearing the words of Yeshua, some in the crowds are convinced He is the Prophet. Others hear the words and are convinced He is indeed the Messiah. Finally, there are still others who hear and are convinced He cannot be the Messiah because He does not come from the right place. These three examples are what we still see in people today. Those who believe He is the Prophet are hearing the call of God on their life but have not fully responded to that call – something is holding them back, there is still a lingering doubt.

Those who say He is the Messiah have fully heard the call of God on their life and have responded to that call. They can no longer ignore the evidence and have cast aside all fear and doubt to fully place their faith in God as Father and Yeshua as Messiah. Finally, there are those who say He cannot be the Messiah because no loving God would allow evil in the world. These have hardened their hearts to the point they can no longer hear the call of God on their lives, and they are fully ignoring the evidence God has placed before them. Yeshua is rejected outright because He does not meet the right requirements.

Not only is there division in the crowd concerning Yeshua, but there is also division within the Pharisees concerning Yeshua. In the Pharisees we also see three examples of what we can find in people today. The officers, who are really Temple priests, return without Yeshua and the Pharisees accuse them of being led astray. The officers are impressed with the way Yeshua speaks or teaches. But the Pharisees see themselves as the true teachers of Israel because they are fully educated. They are the experts in the Law, not a carpenter from Galilee. What we find in people today are those who think Yeshua is just a great teacher but nothing more.

Some of the Pharisees call those in the crowds accursed and not knowing the Law. Here the Pharisees turn their anger against those in the crowd who believe Yeshua to be the Messiah. They cannot possibly know the Messiah because they do not know the Law as the teachers of Israel do, they are under a curse and do not have their right mind. The word accursed also expresses a strong dislike or anger towards someone or something. People today will say that those who follow Christ are simpletons or have a simple mind. It is a faith for the weak and uneducated. Finally, some of the Pharisees assume none of the Pharisees or those in leadership have begun to follow Yeshua. These are the people who are in charge of teaching and leading Israel, they have the experience, the knowledge, and the expertise to know the Messiah when they see Him, and the Messiah will not come from Galilee. The objection to Yeshua today is not where He comes from, but we claim Him to be – the only way to the Father. Many of the Pharisees reject Yeshua and miss the truth about Him because they know one thing – He is from Galilee.

As Christ followers, we will meet all kinds of people in our faith journey. Some will have some faith but not enough to be fully convinced Yeshua is the Messiah. Others will have faith in Yeshua as Messiah and have fully placed their faith in Him. And still others will reject Him outright because He does not meet the right requirements. There are those who think Yeshua was a great teacher who lived a great life, but nothing more. Others will claim our faith is for the simple minded, who are weak and uneducated. Finally, there will be those who reject Yeshua outright because He cannot possibly be the only way to heaven or to the Father. We must be prepared to answer all of these objections and many more, and the only way we can do that is to stay close to Messiah, to live in His word, and follow His ways. Our lives should be our best and strongest witness, not our words.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

Which objection to Yeshua are you having the most difficulty dealing with during this season of life? If there are no objections, why do you think that is?

Where do you need the Spirits guidance and wisdom in dealing with objections concerning Yeshua? If none, what have you done to prepare for these objections?

How are you preparing to deal with some of the objections you are facing? If you are not, why?

The dangers for those who remain Divided Over Christ is that they miss His true identity and the opportunity for eternal life.

There will always be division among the “crowds” concerning Yeshua. What there must not be, what there cannot be, is division among His followers. Yes, I know, we have plenty of division among Christ followers, all one needs to do is look at all the different denominations in the world and it is clear there is division among those who follow Him. But those who are hearing the call of God as we near the end of the age and the return of the Christ, these are the ones who must come together and put their differences aside and find a way to bring peace and love back to those who follow Christ. Love is the one mark, the true mark, of those who follow Him. Their love for one another stands out most of all, especially in a world that is so full of hatred and intolerance right now.

What can we do? We must be a praying community. We must continue to pray for one another daily, lifting one another into the very presence of God so He might touch us all. We must also strengthen one another. We support, love, and encourage one another whenever we are together, spurring one another on through the battles of life. We must also be praying for other Christ followers. First, those Christ followers we know are stuck in a church that is slowly slipping away from the message of Christ and into “another gospel,” as Paul has warned us will happen. But we must also be praying for those Christ followers who are looking for a new church home, especially those whom God might be preparing to bring to this ministry. Finally, be alert. Listen to what the Lord is saying. Be prepared to be obedient to what you hear. And above all, love with the end in mind.

We do all things for the glory of God, through Christ our Lord,

Amen and amen.

Next Week:  

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