Sermon Notes + 5.7.2023
Dr. Tony Chute, Lead Pastor
Overview: When Jesus began teaching in the Temple, the chief priests and the Pharisees concluded He was leading people astray by claiming to speak for God and for calling people to Himself. They intended to arrest Him with the purpose of killing Him. As John notes, however, Jesus’ time had not yet come; therefore, they were not able to apprehend Him. Nicodemus intervened with a question that was designed to counter their rush to judgment: “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?” The chief priests and Pharisees had already determined that Jesus was guilty and thus continued to seek opportunities to arrest Jesus and have Him murdered by the Roman authorities. Despite the fact that Jesus’ life was destined to end on the cross, Nicodemus’ question and the subsequent actions of the Jewish authorities teach us much about the importance of justice and the remedy for injustice, lessons that we can all appreciate as we apply them to the life of our church.
01. We live in a world where injustices occur, and an appropriate response is needed; therefore, the pursuit of justice is a noble cause that Christians should participate in as our law allows.
02. We live in a world where injustices occur, and an unbelieving world is watching; therefore, the way we handle personal injustices as Christians should point others to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
03. We live in a world where injustices occur and will not always be rectified by the legal system; therefore, our hope and comfort in the dispensing of justice ultimately rests with the Lord.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION & DISCOVERY
1. What reasons did the Jewish authorities have for wanting Jesus arrested, according to John 7? What reason did they ultimately give for having Jesus arrested in John 18:19-38 and 19:7-12? Knowing what we know about Jesus’ innocence, how is it that so many people were deceived into believing otherwise?
2. Note the interactions in John 7:25-52 regarding Jesus’ birthplace (Bethlehem) and His ministry in Galilee. Why were the authorities mistaken about Jesus’ birthplace? How does their failure to investigate the truth speak to our situation today when people make judgments based on bad information? What does the Bible say about those who bear false witness or spread lies and rumors in order to influence others? What steps do you take in order to ensure what you hear and believe corresponds with reality?
3. What example does Nicodemus set for us as he intervenes on behalf of Jesus? Note the direct attack on his intelligence and character in John 7:52. What kind of person does it take to withstand such negativity in the pursuit of justice for another? Pray that the Lord will raise up such people in our community and state who will seek truth and justice on behalf of others.
4. When Jesus tells us in Luke 6:37, “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive and you will be forgiven,” does He mean that Christians are not to engage in the legal system in order to pursue justice? How can Christians distinguish between not harboring bitterness and pursuing justice at the same time?
5. Does God forgive unrepentant sinners? In what way is hell an appropriate punishment for those who have not repented of their sins and have not turned to Jesus Christ for salvation? In what way is hell a comfort to those who have suffered grave injustices that were not rectified by the legal system?
For Further Reading: D. A. Carson, How Long, O Lord? Reflections on Suffering and Evil (Baker, 2nd edition, 2006)