Conflict in the Home
Tim Temple


Jesus made an interesting statement in Matthew, chapter 10, verse 34. He said, “I came not to bring peace, but to bring a sword.” He went on to say that those who trusted in Him and tried to walk with Him would find conflict, sometimes within their own families, because of their relationship with Him. That sounds strange to those who think that Jesus came only to bring peace and to those who concentrate primarily on the peace with God that we have and the peace of God that we have.

Certainly all of those things are true, but in His first advent, and really to a great extent until He comes again, one of the focal points of our relationship with Jesus Christ is the conflict that belief in Him creates. At His second advent, when He comes back to take us to be with Himself, and then a little later when He comes to rule and reign over the earth, there will be peace, freedom and security everywhere. But, in that first advent, everywhere that He went, His words and His actions stirred up trouble because of the unbelief that people had in Him.

Probably one of the best examples of that atmosphere of the sword is what we find here in John, chapter 7. The whole chapter is built around conflict, and there are four sections that deal with conflict in various ways. In verses 1-13, there is conflict before the Feast of Tabernacles. The chapter really has its setting in that Feast of Tabernacles. There is conflict during the feast, in verses 14-36, and there is conflict at the end of the feast, in verses 37-44. Throughout the whole thing, there is conflict with the leaders of the feast. That conflict is described in verses 45-53. So there is conflict on every turn.

The Setting for the Conflict

In this lesson, we want to look at that first section of the chapter, verses 1-13, which talks about conflict before the feast. The interesting thing is that the first area of conflict was with His own brothers, in verses 1-10. Before we look at that conflict, we need to notice the setting for the conflict, which we find in verses 1-2:

John 7

1After these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him.
2Now the Jew's feast of tabernacles was at hand.

In verse 1, we have one of those examples of the combination of deity and humanity that characterize the life of the Lord Jesus here on earth. It is very interesting to notice that He made a decision about where He would go and where He would not go, based on concern for His life. You notice in verse 1 that He chose to walk in Galilee. He did not choose to walk in Judea because the Jews sought to kill Him.

Does that mean that Jesus was afraid of the Jews? Does that mean that Jesus had a sinful kind of fear? Of course not. We know that Jesus never did any sin. Sin was not found in Him; on the other hand, it does mean that as a human being, Jesus made realistic decisions about how He was going to take care of the responsibilities that God had given Him. Jesus' primary responsibility in all eternity was to die, but He was to die in a specific way, in a specific time and in a specific place. The Scripture tells us that in the fullness of time, God brought forth His Son. At the perfect time, at the right time, God brought His Son into the world.

Not one moment before the right time, Christ died on the Cross for our sins. Satan, throughout Christ's lifetime, tried to put Him to death. He tried to bring about that death before the Cross so that His death would not accomplish the sacrifice that God designed it to accomplish. Jesus had to be very careful during His lifetime that He avoided those threats to His life that Satan brought about in various ways. One of the ways that He brought about those threats was with the animosity of the Jewish leaders toward Jesus.

In verse 1, Jesus makes a conscious decision in order to preserve His own life, to stay in one area and to stay out of another area. He stayed in Galilee because of being a good steward of the life that God had given Him and not being willing to give it up at the wrong time in the wrong way.

Another part of the setting is that the Jews' Feast of Tabernacles was at hand, in verse 2. The Feast of Tabernacles would give the leaders of the Jews an excellent opportunity to capture Jesus and to begin the process of doing away with Him. The Feast of Tabernacles exacerbated the conflict that Jesus knew was going to be there.

The Feast of Tabernacles was probably the most popular of the feasts that the people observed during Jesus' life on earth. The feast itself is described in Leviticus, chapter 23; Numbers, chapter 29; and in Deuteronomy, chapter 16. All of those describe and give various aspects of the Feast of Tabernacles. This feast took place in the fall of every year and was sort of a harvest celebration in some senses, even though it was basically a biblical observance. It was God's way of reminding them of the forty years of wandering in the wilderness and the things that their forefathers went through in wandering in the wilderness.

The people would make little miniature brush arbors, little shelters. Sometimes they would make them on the roofs of their houses or along the road in various places. Then, for a week in the fall, they would stop all their work and celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. They would actually live in those little huts or tabernacles that they had put together, and it was a real time of celebration. It was a time of being with their friends. It is not unlikely that they would have had something like a chili cookoff or a lean-to building contest or something like that. It was a real joyous celebration and people came from all over Israel to Jerusalem to observe this feast.

During the feast itself, the priest would commemorate various aspects of the wilderness wanderings. For example, every morning in the temple, they would have a ceremony where the priest would pour out water from a large water pot. That was to commemorate the way God brought water out of the rock when they were in the wilderness. Moses struck the rock, and God brought water out. Every night they would light candles throughout the temple as a reminder of the pillar of fire with which God led them during the wilderness wanderings. It was a very biblical kind of ceremony, but also a time for festivity and fun.

At the end of seven days came the most holy day of all, and on the eighth day there was a solemn assembly. A solemn assembly in Israel was a very formal gathering of the people for a formal worship service at the temple. When we get to verse 37, we are going to see that it was on the great day of the feast that Jesus stood up and made His pronouncement about the Water of Life coming from Him. That teaching that Jesus did was on that great day of the feast, on the eighth day, the final day of the feast.

Statement of the Conflict

That is the setting for the conflict, but the actual statement of the conflict is in verses 3-9. Notice who the speakers of these statements are—His own brothers. Look at verse 3:

John 7

3His brethren therefore said unto him, Depart hence, and go into Judaea, that thy disciples also may see the works that thou doest.

His brothers encouraged Him to go from Galilee up to Jerusalem to participate in the feast. I want us to stop and think about this matter of His brothers being the ones who speak these statements. One thing that I want to point out is that, down through the years the Catholic church has tried to reason around these references to Jesus' siblings. Four brothers and two sisters are mentioned, and because of the Catholic doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary and the divinity of Mary, elevating Mary to the status just a little beneath God Himself, they have tried to reason around these references in the New Testament to siblings.

I don't mean to be critical of Catholics; I am just stating facts. You can find these facts in any Catholic literature. They believe that Mary was sinless, and not only was she a virgin when Jesus was born, she was a sinless virgin, and she remained a virgin throughout her life. The problem with that is that the Scripture records very clearly that she had some other children besides Jesus. One of the ways that this has been explained away is that these were children from a previous marriage of Joseph, but there is no biblical evidence of that, and there is no historical proof of it at all. It is much simpler to recognize that Jesus was, being a normal human being, the firstborn of several children that Mary and Joseph had. Joseph, of course, was Jesus' earthly father.

While we are on that subject, let me point out a couple of other areas of disagreement that we have with Catholics. I am digressing a little bit to do this, but it seems to me that I hear this question coming up more and more frequently. In fact, just in the last few months I have seen this issue come up. Probably a number of us know people who are members of the Catholic church and whom we feel sure are believers in Jesus Christ and on their way to Heaven. They say that, and we believe them. I personally know of some people in that category. Because there seem to be a number of these people around the country, many Christians are saying these days that the walls of separation between Catholicism and Protestantism have broken down and that we should welcome them as our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Another area that has brought this about, and I think that this is not insignificant, is in pro-life activities. The Catholic church, thankfully, has been very active in pro-life activity, and they do it on a Christian basis, on a spiritual basis, on a scriptural basis. They argue from Scripture about the evils of abortion. They have done a great job. In fact, in many areas they have led the charge against abortion, and I think that that involvement has brought them in contact with Protestants who would not have known Catholics firsthand otherwise. There has been a lot of talk lately about the brotherhood of Protestants and Catholics.

Again, I want to be as kind as I can about this, but there are at least four areas of disagreement between Protestants and Catholics. There are many areas, but there are four decisive areas that I believe are unbridgeable. The first point I will mention because of our passage in this lesson that has given me the jumping off point to talk about this is their treatment of Mary. The Catholic doctrine—your personal Catholic friend may not believe this at all—says that Mary is the next thing to being divine. She was sinless, a perpetual virgin, the one they pray to.

The official dogma of the Catholic church says that we have a much better opportunity of having our prayers heard if we go through Mary than if we simply pray to Jesus, because if you really want something done, who would you go to? Would you go to their Mother, or would you go to that person? A mother can convince her son to do anything, so the effective thing to do is go to Mary with your prayers. That is elevating a person to a position that Jesus taught and the Word of God says that only Jesus Christ can have. We are to come to God in Jesus' name, not in any other person's name, not even the mother of Jesus. So, that is an area that we have real differences with the official doctrine of the Catholic church. Again, your personal Catholic friend may not believe that himself, but the church where he is a member teaches that.

Another area of disagreement with official Catholic doctrine would be the human priesthood. They teach that in order to have a relationship with God, we must go through another human being. Even though he has been to seminary and has been trained highly and has been recognized in all kinds of official ceremonies, a Catholic priest is no different than you and me. Jesus Christ is our priest, and God has broken down the middle wall of partition between God and man. Human priests are no longer necessary. We now have a relationship with God as His children. We are priests ourselves, and so there is no need for human priests. The official teaching of the Catholic church is that we cannot approach God without the advocacy of a human priesthood.

The third area would be the equality of the advancement of tradition over Scripture. The official doctrine of the Catholic church gives a very high place to Scripture, but if there is a place where Scripture and tradition differ, then tradition is the decision maker. If they have to make a choice, they will choose tradition and not the Word of God. Of course, Scripture tells us that it alone is the standard by which we are to live and make our decisions.

The fourth area, and by far the most important area, is faith in Jesus Christ alone. The official doctrine of the Catholic church is that without the regular celebration of the Mass, a person cannot have eternal salvation. There must also be an adherence to the traditions of the church to the various categories of sin and the various kinds of things that tradition has brought, in addition to the Scripture.

There are four areas that form an unbridgeable chasm between Catholicism and Protestantism, for whatever that is worth to you. I have a little bit of written material that has come through to me that expresses all of this very simply and gives scriptural background for all of the things that I have said. If you would like to have that material, I will be glad to get copies of it for you. I may sound like I am just talking off the top of my head because I haven't given you a lot of dates, references and etc, but recently work has been done in this area to clarify that even though we love the Catholics and we know there are Catholics who genuinely know the Lord Jesus Christ and have been saved by His blood alone, there is still a distinction that must be made, and we need to be careful that we don't overlook that distinction.

Coming back to the text, this is one of those passages where the existence of Jesus' siblings simply cannot be ignored. We either have to believe that the Scripture is accurate and the authoritative Word of God or that there is some kind of mistake here. Four brothers are mentioned by name in Matthew, chapter 13, verse 55: James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas—not Judas Iscariot, but Judas the brother of Jesus. There are two sisters mentioned in Matthew, chapter 13, verse 56. No names are given, and in fact, the number of sisters is not given. I think that we assume there were two, but there could have been others. There were four brothers and at least two sisters.

The actual sentiment that they are expressing in this statement of conflict begins in verse 3:

John 7

3His brethren therefore said unto him, Depart hence, and go into Judaea, that thy disciples also may see the works that thou doest.
4For there is no man that doeth any thing in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly. If thou do these things, shew thyself to the world.

Jesus' brothers didn't know whether He was the Messiah or not at this point, but they probably enjoyed the fame that He was getting for Himself. They were as impressed as anybody else was with the miracles that He was doing. They probably enjoyed the fame they were getting, as His siblings, on a lesser scale.

In their human frame of reference, it simply made sense for Him to go where the people were, to demonstrate these fabulous things that He was doing, and certainly one of these places would be the Feast of Tabernacles. That would be a very logical place to go. Remember that we read a moment ago that He was keeping Himself in Galilee and the feast was going to be in Judea. That was the area in which Jerusalem was located, and so He would have to change His plans and leave Galilee and go to Judea, and His brothers were encouraging Him to do that.

The source of these statements is in verse 5:

John 7

5For neither did his brethren believe in him.

Now, that is a fascinating statement, isn't it? It seems very strange that the brothers of Jesus wouldn't have believed in Him. Here they had lived with Him all of these years. It looks like they would have been among the first believers. On the other hand, if you stop and think about that, there is a sense in which this very fact makes Jesus seem all the more human. I think there is strong support for the humanity of Jesus in the fact that His brothers didn't believe in Him, because it indicates that He was so completely human that He probably didn't live that much differently from His brothers. Of course, the difference of the absence of sin would be a significant difference, but I think Jesus was a kid Who got out in the street and played with His brothers and sisters. Whatever games the kids played, Jesus played. Jesus didn't have a halo around His head. He didn't glow while He was here on this earth. Here were these brothers who had grown up with Him. He was their big brother and they saw Him just as a human being.

Maybe that was a part of the fact that they didn't believe in Him. You know, there are sinful human beings who live such clean lives that it is hard for us to believe that they are sinful, and so it may be that they thought Jesus was just a clean living guy. He was their brother, and He did all those fun things with them, and He was so good, and they just didn't attribute that sinlessness to deity. The difference is that even those people whom we know whose lives seem to be so clean and so pure, even they are guilty of those inward sins, those hidden sins of covetousness and anger and those kinds of things that may not show on the surface. So they could have easily chalked Jesus up to being one of those kind of people, just clean living, never doing anything wrong. Probably every one of us know someone like that, but if you know them very well, you know that they have some sins that don't really show up that much openly.

Just the thought of having God grow up in your home with you would be beyond what most people could imagine. Just try to think what it would be like to have one of your siblings actually being God Himself. That would be hard to accept no matter how good that person was. On the other hand, think what they missed by not becoming believers sooner than they did. They had a wonderful opportunity to believe in Jesus early on, and yet they really didn't believe in Him until after His resurrection. John is going to tell us that later on.

The same thing is true for the principle of belief and unbelief in any area, for salvation or for fellowship with the Lord. Think what we miss by not coming to the Lord as early and as often as we can. Many times we miss opportunities to walk closely with the Lord. How much time we waste being out of fellowship with the Lord—years sometimes, certainly long periods of time, if not years. Think what a waste that is. Is that that much different than these brothers who didn't accept Him as Savior as early as they could have?

If you are away from the Lord, if you are not taking advantage of the fellowships that God makes possible with Himself through Jesus Christ, what are you waiting for? Why wait any longer to confess that sin and to be restored to fellowship with God? Some of us are just as foolish as those brothers were to see the very manifestation of God in our midst and not walk in belief in Him. If you have never trusted Christ as Savior, what are you waiting for? That is even more important. As important as walking in fellowship with Him is, walking in salvation is all the more important.

Above all of that, the fact that they were unbelievers explains everything. They could not begin to understand what Jesus was about. They couldn't begin to understand why He did not want to go into Judea, because I Corinthians, chapter 2, verse 14, tells us that spiritual things are foolishness to the unbeliever. Spiritual things are spiritually discerned, so these brothers couldn't begin to understand the spiritual aspect and activity of Jesus' life, because they did not have the Spirit of God within them. These things were foolishness to them just as they are to any unbeliever.

Settlement of the Conflict

We have talked about the setting for the conflict, and the statement of the conflict. Verses 6-9 talk about the settlement of the conflict. Look at verse 6:

John 7

6Then Jesus said unto them, My time is not yet come: but your time is alway ready.
7The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil.
8Go ye up unto this feast: I go not up yet unto this feast: for my time is not yet full come.
9When he had said these words unto them, he abode still in Galilee.

There are three things that Jesus says to His brothers in these verses. In verse 6, He said, “My time is not yet come.” John, as we have already seen and will continue to see all through his Gospel, talks a lot about the hour of God, or the day of God. He talks a lot about this matter of the timing that God has in things. We need to be careful not to confuse the time that Jesus talks about here with the hour that Jesus often talks about. The word hour, as John uses it in his Gospel, is a Greek word that refers to a destined hour of God, the hour of His crucifixion, the hour of His revelation. John refers to that in John, chapter 2, verse 4, chapter 7, verse 30, chapter 8, verse 20, and chapter 12, verse 27. He talks about Jesus' hour coming, but that is a different word than Jesus uses here. The word that Jesus uses here is a word that means “the best times,” or “the most convenient time.” It is a word that any of us would use. When we are planning to do something with someone, we say, “What times is best for you?” The other person always says, “I don't know. What time is best for you?” Then you play ping-pong with your schedules deciding on the time. That is the idea here. Jesus said, “This is not the best time for Me to go to the feast.” He didn't say that He wasn't going to go. He didn't say that it was not God's time for Him to go, even though He talks about that in other places about other aspects of God's will. He says, “It is just not the best time yet for Me to go the feast.”

We see in the next verses that He did go a little later, but His brothers went on ahead of Him. There is something important to learn from that, and that is the importance of God's timing in things. God Himself, in the person of Jesus Christ, talked about the best time. He talked about the most convenient time to do things. Jesus thought that way. So many times we think in terms of what God wants us to do, and we ought to think that way. We should train ourselves to think that way about everything we do; but we need to think about not only the fact that God wants it done, we also need to ask ourselves the question, “Does He want me to do it? If He wants it done and He wants me to do it, is it the best time to do it?” That is the way that Jesus thought, and we need to teach ourselves to think that way. God may want it done, and He may want you to do it, but He may not want it done right now.

Paul wrote to the Philippians that we should pray about everything. Pray about anything that you might be worrying about. It is only as we pray about everything that we will be in the current of His timing, that we will be sensitive to not only what God wants us to do, but when He wants us to do it. Jesus went up to the feast, but not when His brothers wanted Him to. He went when He was sure that it was the time that the Father wanted Him to do it.

There are many Christians who are so anxious to do God's work that they are in the wrong place at the wrong time, or they are not ready at the right time. We need to be sensitive to the best time to do the things that God wants us to do.

The second thing that Jesus said to His brothers is in the last part of verse 6:

John 7

6…but your time is alway ready.

That is an interesting thing. Remember, Jesus is saying this to unbelievers: “Your time is always ready.” What does He mean by that? Keep in mind what we just said about His time. He was waiting until the best time to do what the Father wanted Him to do, but He said to His brothers, “Your time is always ready.” Think about this. These unbelieving brothers had nothing to do for God. Jesus had the Father's work to finish. Those unbelieving brothers didn't have any of God's work to do. As far as God was concerned, they didn't have a schedule, and that is true of all unbelievers. As far as spiritual things are concerned, an unbeliever doesn't have a schedule. He is free to do whatever he wants to do whenever he wants to do it.

Believers, according to Ephesians, chapter 5, verse 16, are to redeem the time. You and I are just like Jesus. We have a schedule. We have things that God wants us to accomplish in our lives. Certainly, most of us have a schedule anyway. We have things that our bosses want us to accomplish in life. We have things that our business demands that we accomplish, but we are talking about spiritual things here. God has things that He has for us to do. He tells us to redeem the time. Every believer should seek to determine what God wants us to do. He tells us a number of things that He wants us to do, but He has specific things that He wants us to do as we carry out those general instructions from the Scripture. Part of our prayer every day should be, “Lord, show me what You want me to do today. Show me what You have for me to do today, and show me when is the best time to do that.”

He says to His brothers, “You can't understand My timing about going to the feast because you don't operate on a schedule. I do. I have God's work to do and God's work to finish.”

The third thing that He says to them is, “The world cannot hate you…” One of the things that Jesus had to contend with was the hatred of the world. We are going to see that the Jews were considering catching Him at the feast so they could start the process of putting Him to death. In verse 1, we are told that the Jews had set about to kill Him. Jesus had to consider these human aspects of the hatred of men. Jesus said to His brothers, “You don't have to worry about the hatred that I have to keep in mind.”

That is more fully explained over in chapter 15, verse 19. This is something that some of us need to know more of. Maybe some of us need to be reminded of it in case we face some of this. Jesus says, in verse 19:

John 15

19If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

I don't know about you, but that is a convicting verse to me. I am afraid that I don't feel very much hatred from the world. How much hatred do you feel from the world? I believe, on the basis of what Jesus said, the more Christ-like we are, the less the world is going to understand us and the less the world is going to appreciate us. We live in a very civilized, polite society. It is getting less that way every day, but there is still a modicum of civility about our nation, so people can hate us and still be polite to us. We may not know that some people hate us, but the more Christ-like we are, the more we are going to be rejected by the world, even though they may be very nice about it. That is something that we ought to always keep in mind. Even Jesus' own brothers were not hated by the world, even though they were the brothers of this miracle worker who was going around claiming to be God. The world didn't hate them because they were of the world. They weren't giving the world any trouble. They weren't shining a light of higher standards in the eyes of the world as Jesus was.

This also demonstrates that Jesus is not talking about physical characteristics here. There are some Christians who have physical characteristics and people reject them because of the silly way they dress or the careless way they take care of their hygiene. There are various things that over the years Christians have somehow gotten the idea contribute to spirituality. Jesus wasn't talking about physical things. Some Christians you can spot a mile off because of the way they dress or the way they smell or the things that they do or don't do. Certainly our testimony is a part of it, and the things that we choose to do or not to do are a part of our Christian life, but Jesus was talking about heart matters here, not physical characteristics. He is talking about matters of the spirit and the heart.

Leaders' Commitment to Putting Jesus to Death

The first conflict was with His own siblings. Coming to verses 11-13, there is a second kind of conflict before the feast, and that was with the leaders. Verse 11 brings out the commitment that these leaders had to putting Jesus to death. Notice verse 11:

John 7

11Then the Jews sought him at the feast, and said, Where is he?

Probably Jesus wasn't even there at the time that the leaders said this. Remember, He doesn't appear at the feast until the midpoint of the feast, and He doesn't really make His spiritual offer until the last day of the feast. The sense of verse 11 is that at the beginning of the feast, or maybe those few days before the feast when the people were in Jerusalem but the feast hadn't started yet, these people were already looking for Him. Verse 1 tells us that they were committed to killing Him.

Back in chapter 5, we saw that they began to be committed to killing Him because He claimed to be equal with God, and they are still keeping that up. Remember also, in verse 11, John uses this term Jews repeatedly to refer to the Jewish leaders. He is not just talking about Jews in general. There were lots of Jews who believed in Jesus and lots of Jews under conviction and about to believe in Him, so when you see the word Jews , in almost every case in John's Gospel, he is talking about the Jewish leaders—the Sadducees, the Pharisees, the Sanhedrin. These people were looking for Him in order to capture Him and put Him to death. In cases where it does not refer to the Jewish leaders, the context will tell you.

They were probably looking for Him early in order to arrest Him before a lot of His followers would surround Him. Naturally these followers would crowd around Him and provide a natural protection for Him.

Confusion of the People

In verse 12, we see the confusion of the people. There was much complaining among the people concerning Him. Notice verse 12:

John 7

12And there was much murmuring among the people concerning him: for some said, He is a good man: others said, Nay; but he deceiveth the people.

An interesting thing about that is that 2,000 years later the people are still talking that way about Jesus. There are people, ourselves included, who say that Jesus is good. And that is an understantement. That is the very least that we can say about Him. There are others who say, “That is just a crutch. That is just for people who can't get through life without believing in some savior of some kind.” All of these years human nature has never changed, and that is extremely significant, I think.

We also need to notice that there are people in that day and in this day who say that He is good, but they don't necessarily really mean that He is God. There are people who talk about Jesus as a great teacher and a great man, but we need to keep clear in our thinking that if Jesus was not God, He was not good. There are people who say all the time, “I don't believe Jesus was God, but I believe that He was a great teacher, and I believe that He was a great man. He taught us how to live.”

That is illogical. If Jesus was not God, He was not good because He claimed to be God over and over again. If He wasn't God, then He was the biggest hypocrite and the biggest blasphemer who ever lived. So, don't ever let anybody tell you that Jesus was not God, but He was a good man. That is totally illogical.

The Climate of Fear

Overarching everything is the climate of fear that we see in verse 13:

John 7

13Howbeit no man spake openly of him for fear of the Jews.

We wouldn't know what they were afraid of just by this passage, but if you turn over to chapter 9, we have the healing of the man who had been born blind, and it raised a tremendous furor. In verse 22, they were questioning the parents of this man Jesus had healed. He was born blind, and Jesus gave Him his sight. They are questioning his parents about that. They said, “He is an adult. Ask him.” They didn't want to commit themselves, and verse 22 explains why they said it that way. Notice verse 22:

John 9

22These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.

That is the kind of fear that we are talking about in verse 13 of chapter 7. These people were so afraid of the Jewish leaders because earlier, at some point after they decided to kill Jesus, they also came up with this ruling that if anybody confessed that He was Christ, they would be put out of the synagogue. Of course, only through worship in the synagogue and participation in the Old Testament sacrifices and offerings could a Jew—before the Cross of Christ— have any kind of hope of salvation. So this was a very serious thing. What a travesty that these Jewish leaders, who were supposed to be the guides of Israel, were instead plotting how they could keep the people from the true Light that God had sent into the world. Things were in a terrible mess, weren't they?


You and I, Jesus said, are the light of the world. I wonder if our lives, to any extent, confuse people about Who Jesus is. Certainly none of us are plotting to keep people away from Christ, but it could be that the very way that we live accomplishes somewhat that same purpose. One of the major reasons that people use for not going to church or for not trusting Christ is the hypocritical Christians that they know. For a lot of people, that is just a convenient excuse. They picked it up somewhere, and it is a handy thing to tell people who are trying to talk to them about the Lord. But I do believe that there is some basis of fact for that. I think that some people have a legitimate reason to say that. They do personally know a hypocrite or two. God help us not to be counted with these Jewish leaders in the fact that those of us who are supposed to be able to light the way to God through Jesus Christ to those around us are actually doing the opposite. What a tragedy that would be if our lives wound up accomplishing the same negative thing that these leaders of Israel were doing.

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