John 1:4-5, 14-17, 19-22, 29; 3:16-21
What are some common misconceptions about Jesus or wrong expectations that people place on him? Who is Jesus to you? What expectations do you have for Jesus when you approach him?
Common misconceptions: Jesus as a vending machine, Jesus as the path to blessing and prosperity, Jesus as my friend (byproduct), Jesus as my source of peace (byproduct)
We can so easily be blinded by wrong expectations. And the real Jesus appears but because our expectations are off, we don’t recognize him for who he truly is and we follow our own version of Jesus, a god of our own making. Danger of self-delusion. Who is Jesus to you? The answer to this will affect how you live out your Christian life. Certainly, the Jewish people of the OT had a particular set of expectations about the Messiah and those missplaced messianic expectations contributed to their failure to recognize Jesus as their Messiah.
Some Jews expected the messiah to be a powerful king like King David. A Davidic king. They looked at their circumstances — their Roman oppressors — and they (esp. Zealots) hoped for a deliverer to overthrow Rome and provide instant relief and upward socio-economic mobility. Jesus displayed supernatural powers.
In Luke 5:14-15, Jesus heals a man suffering from leprosy and he warns him not to say anything. The healed leper didn’t listen and news of Jesus’ power spread and crowds began flocking to Jesus for healing. Jesus was aware of the hearts of people and our tendency to view him as a vending machine of sorts to meet their physical needs. That is why he constantly withdrew and only revealed his powers to those who showed genuine spiritual interest. Having our physical needs met is important, but if it stops there, then we are just like the Jewish people who looked for a powerful messiah.
Some Jews expected a prophet. That is why John the Baptist was asked, Are you Elijah? The prophet? Some thought that the Messiah was more of a teacher figure. Yes, Jesus was a powerful king, the King of kings. Yes, he was a prophet. He knew the future. Yes, he was a teacher. He taught with authority and validated through his life his claims. But none of these captures the essence of who Jesus is.
Jesus is described by John the Baptist in John 1 as the "Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world." This implies that sin is our greatest problem. The Jewish people knew that sin was a serious thing as well. That is why they regularly sacrificed animals to atone for their sins. And with this title as the Lamb of God, John the Baptist is setting the stage for Jesus purpose in coming. No longer do we have to sacrifice animals. Once and for all, Jesus would die to atone for our sins. Sin is our biggest problem and this is why Jesus came to us.
Why did some respond to Jesus and some didn’t? Why did some of the disciples immediately recognize Jesus as the Messiah and want to follow him? (Read Luke 3:4-6 to help answer this question.)
First, we need to have a sense of expectation. In other words, we need to have a seeking heart. Otherwise, Jesus could be standing right in front of us and we could be preoccupied with something else and miss him. But a seeking heart is no guarantee that you will recognize Jesus for who he is. The Jews proved that because they were looking for a particular kind of Messiah and Jesus did not fit any of their molds.
Just the fact that you are here and coming to a bible study when you could be studying or doing a million other things shows that God is at work in your heart. You are seeking. So assuming you are seeking Jesus, the next thing is to make sure that you have the CORRECT expectation of Jesus. John the Baptist had a clear expectation for the Messiah and thus he focused his life on communicating to others how to prepare for Jesus. And what did his preparation entail? Repentance. This makes sense. If our chief problem is sin and Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, then what better way to prepare for this kind of Messiah than to repent and clear out all the mess in our hearts.
Luke 3:4-6 talks about how we need to prepare a straight path for the light of God to shine directly into all the dark corners of our heart. There are various types of sins described here that need to be dealt with so that Jesus can go straight to our core. Repentance is one of the crucial prerequisites to encountering Jesus. Regular repentance is like taking out the trash daily. We want to give Christ easy navigation in our hearts, freed from any obstacles or strongholds.
Compare and contrast light and darkness. Have you ever been exposed of your sin either through a message or a person? What was your reaction?
Light and darkness are polar opposites. They cannot co-exist. Light guides. Light exposes darkness. It is easy to hide in the darkness. Light and darkness both cause blindness, albeit in different forms. I want to focus on light exposing the darkness. Jesus is the light of the world. The darkness did not understand him (1:4-5). His own did not receive him (1:10-11). Darkness wants nothing to do with the light. When your eyes adjust to darkness and a bright light is shined in your face, it is painful. That is essentially what Jesus did. He shined brilliantly in our dark world. And it was painful because he exposes our sins. This is the bottom line why people don’t respond to Jesus. It is painful. Who wants to have their sins exposed? John 3:16-21 explains plainly why some respond to God and some don’t. We normally stop at verse 16, but we need to read that verse in its overall context. It is totally unnatural for darkness to desire the light. It is a miracle that all of us here responded to Jesus, light, and by following him, we desire to come into the light more and more.
Whenever we are exposed by the light of God because of our darkness and sins, we have 2 choices. Either we seek God and desire to move more into the light or we hate the light and cling to evil or darkness. His own rejected the light. This is specifically talking about the Jews. They had no excuse not to recognize Jesus as the Messiah. They were familiar with the OT sacrificial system. And finally THE Lamb appears before them and somehow they were offended by Jesus saying that we need to repent and be born again. They had grown accustomed to the darkness, their religious system. Sometimes, it is more comfortable to stick with a familiar system, even if you know that it has grown corrupt or powerless.
Jesus came to expose the Jews of the deadness of their faith. It was mere religion. There was no life, no power. How easily we can fall into the same trap that the Jewish people fell into and miss out on Jesus and the whole point why he came to us.
Jesus did not come to tweak our lives. He did not come to enhance our religious systems and traditions. As we learned last week and the cleansing of the temple, Jesus came to clean house. He came to overthrow all that is corrupt and dark and messed up. And he came to give us the light, new life.
Jesus came to expose us but also to cleanse us so that our hearts can be a temple fit for him to dwell. How do you react when you are exposed? Does it cause you to draw nearer to Jesus out of desperation? Or do you find yourself retreating to the darkness? Testimony at Berkeley while I was dating. Message on Noah and God’s coming judgment. Bright light of God’s word shining on me. Brother Abraham’s embrace. Jesus is full of grace and truth. Truth is the bright light. It is painful. It can crush us. It caused Isaiah to say, Woe to me, I am undone. It caused Peter to say, Away from me, I am a sinful man.
Grace is like a shade that veils God’s light so that we won’t be destroyed. Maybe more like a dimmer. God increases the intensity of the light as we mature and we can handle more light. John 1:17 mentions Moses and the Law. Romans 3:20 – we become conscious of sin because of the law. Moses represents the law. The law makes us aware of sin. We realize that there is a high standard and we fall short. This is the function of the law. Christian life is impossible. We cannot keep all the laws. We will fail. We will fall back into darkness. We will become spiritually blind again. We need the light of Jesus constantly.
Jesus was full of grace and truth. He exposes our sin but he didn’t leave us with our sin and guilt. For those who believe in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, instead of condemnation, he offers grace. Light and darkness – there is no middle ground. It is time to step out of the shadows. Do you find that you are still in the darkness? Maybe there is one particular issue that is a stronghold, a vice, an area of darkness and hiding and constant defeat and discouragement. Repent and allow the light of Jesus to shine on that sin.
Darkness wants nothing to do with the light. That is why Jesus was crucified. People began tired of having their darkness exposed and hearing that they need to repent and be born again. Coming into the light is painful, but I can assure you that the more you confess your sins and step out into the light, the easier it gets. Your eyes that had grown accustomed to the darkness slowly adjusts to the light. And once you taste the light of Jesus in your life and you are exposed yet forgiven, the more freedom and courage you will have to take another step into the light.
Maybe you are experiencing some darkness in your life. Be encouraged. The light may be dim at first because the darkness can feel overwhelming, but there is hope. Even a flicker of light can conquer the darkness.