Tonight, we begin our community Lent services. It’s such an honor and joy to be a part of the churches in this valley coming together with a common purpose and goal; to reflect on the life, death, and resurrection of our savior, Jesus Christ.
Throughout the Lent season, we’ll come together to worship and to learn from the powerful statements made by Jesus as He declared and explained, “I AM”.
Tonight, we’re beginning with Jesus’ statement found in John 7:29 declaring, “I AM from Him”.
In John chapter 7, we find that Israel is beginning to celebrate with great joy the Festival of the Tabernacles. This was a week-long celebration where Israel would live in temporary shelters just as they did after they received their freedom from Egyptian bondage. It was a time of rest and feasting together in unity.
However, in contrast to this joyous festival, something dark was brewing at that same time. The Jewish leaders were conspiring for a way to kill Jesus. In John chapter 7, we also find something occur that is all too common in today’s culture as well; an identity crisis. This identity crisis revolved around the person of Jesus; particularly that He was the long awaited savior.
In verses 1-9, we learn that Jesus’ very own brothers didn’t believe in Him. They mocked Him and encouraged Him to come to the Festival of the Tabernacles and to begin showing Himself to the world as the long awaited Messiah. They wanted Him to come out from hiding and become a public figure.
Jesus declined their mocking, but did secretly come to the festival. There, found in verses 10-13, the crowds also were talking about Him. They were whispering for fear that the leaders might hear them. Some whispered and argued that He was a good man, others argued that He was a great deceiver.
Then, half way through the festival (verses 14-23), Jesus entered the temple courts and began to teach. The Jews who heard Him were amazed at His teaching! Jesus explained that what He was teaching was not His own, but the Heavenly Father’s who had sent Him. He revealed to them that there were those who were trying to kill Him for healing a man and telling him to carry his mat on the Sabbath. They said that He was demon possessed.
At this time, Jesus makes a profound statement that we all would be wise to apply in our own lives:
Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.
Jesus knew that there was plenty of confusion about Him. He knew that the people had become divided about who He was. There was an identity crisis raging throughout the people regarding Jesus. He knew that some had Him figured out correctly, but that others were mistaken about Him.
Who was He really? Was He the Messiah? Was He just the son of Joseph? Was He merely a carpenter’s son? Where did He learn to teach so well and with such authority? These are just some of the questions that began to arise in the thoughts and conversations of the others.
25 At that point some of the people of Jerusalem began to ask, “Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill? 26 Here he is, speaking publicly, and they are not saying a word to him. Have the authorities really concluded that he is the Messiah? 27 But we know where this man is from; when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from.”
The identity crisis about who Jesus was began to grow more fierce and more confusing. Now, the people began to question the Jewish leaders. They thought that perhaps they had come to the conclusion that Jesus was the Messiah. Above all of the chatter and growing confusion, Jesus cried out:
28b “Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. I am not here on my own authority, but he who sent me is true. You do not know him, 29 but I know him because I am from him and he sent me.”
Everyone else, even His own brothers, may have been confused about who Jesus was. Others may even have claimed that Jesus was demon possessed, but there was no doubt in the heart and mind of Jesus regarding who He was. He cried out, “I AM FROM HIM!”.
Jesus was confident in His identity even though no one else seemed to be. The entire life of Jesus was founded on this very statement, “I AM FROM HIM!”. There was no shame in it for Him. He knew who His Heavenly Father was and that was enough for Him. He stood firm in it and refused to be moved by the questioning and challenging of others. He knew that the Heavenly Father had a divine plan and purpose for His life and He was determined to see that work through to its completion no matter what opposition or confusion might arise about Him.
Whenever Jesus was initially challenged by the Jewish leaders for doing what His Heavenly Father had Him do; to heal a man on the Sabbath and have Him walk and carry his mat, He responded:
17 In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” 18 For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
19 Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. 21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. 22 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.
Jesus didn’t really argue with them or reason with them logically. Jesus essentially just said, that’s who I am and that’s what I’ve been called to do. He didn’t apologize for it, either. He had a close and intimate relationship with His Heavenly Father. Jesus found His identity in Him alone and knew that He would do even greater things than healing this man who had been an invalid for 38 years. Jesus’ heart’s desire was to give glory and honor to His Father.
I think that all of us here can relate to how Jesus was feeling at that time when His identity was questioned, however. We’ve all had people question who we really are and what our motive really is. It’s a feeling of frustration and anger. This type of gossip and questioning is a fire that can spread so quickly that it’s nearly impossible to contain. Once those flames have had their fill, the damage done in our relationships is costly and difficult to restore. Things are never the same.
This questioning may have come from our families, or perhaps from the hidden whispers of the crowds. Perhaps the question was whispered amongst friends, coworkers, or even our brothers and sisters in Christ. Perhaps we’ve even asked ourselves this very question, “Who am I really?”.
That question can be uncomfortable. In fact, many people spend their entire lives not being able to truly and confidently answer it.
During this Lent season, these questions are good and healthy to ponder and reflect upon.
Who is Jesus Christ?
Who am I?
However, there is a far greater question that we can ask ourselves. The answer to this question gives our lives meaning and purpose. It is a question to which the answer becomes the very foundation of all that we are and all that we do. It’s answer gives us the key to obtaining that same confidence and assurance, that same clarity that Jesus had in His life.
Something beautiful and wonderful occurs when these two questions collide and form just one.
Who am I in Christ?
As we bring our focus and attention on Christ throughout Lent and dig into the richness of scripture, I trust that the Holy Spirit will begin to answer this question. The answer will construct a firm and confident foundation upon which the rest of our lives can be built.
Jesus said boldly, “I AM FROM HIM!”, therefore,
Who am I in Christ?