The Far-Sightedness of a Hard Heart

John 10:19-42
Preached @ Harambee Church by Pastor
Michael Gunn on April 1st, 2007

“What we need is a religion that is not only right when we are right, but right when we are wrong!”
G.K. Chesterton

Intro
Jesus is the “Good” Shepherd, which we saw last week meant the “beautiful” Shepherd. It is interesting that Isaiah 53:2 tells us that the messiah would have, “no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.” In a human sense, there was nothing physically that would attract us to Jesus. He was an “ordinary” Jew; yet His beauty was profound, albeit constrained in the ugliness of humanity. John has clearly shown us, as he does in this passage, that Jesus is to be seen in the “likeness” of humanity, but He is also to be seen as God Himself.

From the Head…
Last week we ended in verse 18, where Jesus is clear that no man will take away His life, but that He came to “Lay it down!” The aftermath of Jesus’ words is what we might expect if He came down to us now and said the same things. “He is demon possessed and raving mad!” Others of course mentioned that He had healed the blind man, so how can He be, “demon possessed?” Jesus has always caused division. Truth has a tendency to do this, particularly when the truth doesn’t agree with the way conventional wisdom thinks. As G.K Chesterton once quipped, “What we need is a religion that is not only right when we are right, but right when we are wrong!” Hearts that are hard to the truth of God’s word cause division! This is the nature of truth and man’s fallen condition. The word of God will come to odds with the way we think. Are we willing to submit to the word, or our own desires and ways of thinking?

A Question and a Promise (John 10:22-29)
“If you are the Christ, tell us plainly!” The problem with a hard heart is that unless God acts on its behalf, it will remain hard. So when men reject Christ it is not because God makes them do it, but that He doesn’t do anything to change it. “You do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice…” they are still culpable for their rejection, since it is a clear act of their own will. In spite of this condition, Christ answers the question with two reasons to believe in His witness:

1. His words, yet they did not believe (See Deuteronomy 18:15).
2. His deeds, but they did not believe (See Isaiah 35:5-6).

He also gives His sheep three promises:

1. A Life Eternal (See John 17:3).
2. A Life that Would Not End in Death.
3. A Life that Was Secure in Christ’s Grasp.

Jesus’ Claim to Unity with His Father (John 10:30-31)
There has always been a question as to what Jesus is claiming here, but the response of the Jewish leaders seem to indicate that the answer is a lot clearer than most of us care to admit. Jesus is making the claim that He and the father are one in essence/being, not one in mind or in purpose, which are certainly true, but His claim is more far-reaching than that. Blasphemy is the charge that He, a “mere man” was claiming to be God (See John 5:18).

Jesus’ Defense of His Claim (John 10:32-39)
The question here is does Jesus soften the blow with His defense, or does He strengthen His claim? In His own defense He makes two points for His case:

1. His claim to deity is certainly on firmer grounds than those OT judges (See Psalm 82:6).
2. That His works are evidence for His claims.

Jesus’ Harvest Before the Storm (John 10:40-42)
Jesus left the hotbed of Jerusalem for a time, before he re-entered the last time before His death. He was able to escape the advances of the religious leaders because His time was not yet come. He left to an area across the Jordan that was reminiscent of the days of His baptism and beginning of His ministry when many followed Him. He had to be reminded of His task and the brutal death before Him as He crossed the Jordan, a river symbolic of life and cleansing. A river that one would pass through before they entered the “Holy City.” Jesus now leaves that city being rejected by His people, but He finds solace in the reality that His Father is still drawing men to Him, and will continue to do so in spite of the rejection and hatred of men that He will experience until His second coming.

…to the Heart
In what way if any have you hardened your heart to the word of God? This can be a very subtle thing in our walk with Him. It is easy to not submit areas of our own lives to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. We begin to operate on our own wisdom, and mistake it for God’s. In what ways can we appropriate the reality of Christ’s offer of life into our every day life? What can we do to overcome our unbelief? I think there are at least three things that can be helpful in this area of our lives:

1. Read the word diligently and regularly.
2. Pray that God continually reveals areas of rejection in our hearts, and ask forgiveness for our hardness.
3. Thank God regularly for the grace and the faith He consistently gives us.

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2 comments so far

  1. Diana on

    Hi Mike, my friend Allen,a devout Catholic, and I discuss the sermon notes on a pretty regular basis. This is what Allen had to say this week:

    I really like the way Mike writes. The quote from G.K. Chesterton is dead on. The only Religion worth following….in its essence, will not….because it cannot, change. For as St. Paul says, Christ cannot change…Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ, yesterday, and today: and the same for ever.

    From the Head…
    Awesome paragraph, “The word of God will come to odds with the way we think” I’m betting Mike means Holy Scripture, which itself identifies the “Word of God” Christ, in His Being, as, the Word of God.
    John 1:1. In the beginning was the Word: and the Word was with God: and the Word was God.

    A question and a promise (John 10:22-29) even earlier in John did Jesus claim to be God, to the Jews. The I AM is straight from the Book of Exodus Chapter 3:14, the Jews understood what Christ was saying, as that is how God identified himself to Moses thru the burning bush.

    and
    John 8:56. Abraham your father rejoiced that he might see my day: he saw it and was glad.
    8:57. The Jews therefore said to him: Thou art not yet fifty years old. And hast thou seen Abraham?
    8:58. Jesus said to them: Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham was made, I AM.

    Later in the Gospel of Mark, among many other examples from the Four Gospels, such as

    Mark 14:61. But he held his peace and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him and said to him: Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed God?
    14:62. And Jesus said to him: I am. And you shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of the power of God and coming with the clouds of heaven

    I’m betting Mike meant the following with his three things that can be helpful, which all are imperative to salvation, I would have worded maybe # 2 a little differently, or no, just added to it. After the first word “Pray” I would have put DAILY and after the word “rejection” I would have put TO HIS TRUTH, then after “hardness” I would have put SINS.

  2. mike on

    Diana

    Wow, great words, and I totally concur that Jesus made some clear claims before to His deity in Chapter 8, and the signs He performed also point to who He is. I think in chapter 10 Jesus stands aloof because He has shown who He is, but the people simply do not want to believe in the hardness of their hearts.

    I too concur that the “Word” is both the Holy Scriptures and the enfleshed word of God Jesus Christ.

    Thanks for the additions to the application, and for diligently studying the word!

    God bless!

    Mike


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