The first words found in the Bible are; In the beginning God… (Genesis 1:1 NASB). Our inquisitive probing mind seeks to wrap around this profound statement. There is no introductory remark nor is there an explanation that follows. We are given a simple declarative statement that begins with our accepting this being-God. It is far beyond the scope of this morning’s message to deal with all of the opposing theories and challenges to God. I do note that many well-known atheists have reached the same conclusion that “In the beginning God.”
Those who do not accept this fact will find very little to change their mind during this brief discussion this morning. Those who do believe in this creator of the universe whom we call God, then we look to the Bible to reveal who God is and what God wants us to know.
Throughout the many years that past from the creation until Moses led the descendants of Abraham out of Egyptian slavery, God spoke to and through certain individuals (Adam, Noah, Abraham, etc.). Finally, God spoke to Moses. Moses not only became a leader for the family that had grown into a nation, he also began to write the words God revealed to him. On the first encounter, God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:14 NASB). This phrase is a simple acknowledgement that God is. There is no preamble, no explanation, no room for question or doubt. God is. The existence of God is the basis for the Bible. Without the acknowledgment of God, the Bible becomes meaningless and indeed pointless.
We know that the religious leaders during the times of Jesus were looking for the Christ or Messiah. Yet, their vision was clouded by their perception of what this Messiah would look like or how would he act. Most of us are fortunate to know that Jesus was both the Messiah and also the son of God. We may not fully understand all of the aspects of how Jesus is God and the son of God, but we accept Jesus as the Messiah sent by God to deliver those trapped by sin into a new liberated condition through which they have a new relationship with God. However, the scribes and the Pharisees were looking for someone to drive the Romans out of Jerusalem and establish an earthly kingdom like that of David. Jesus did not match their expectations.
In the 9th chapter of John, we meet a blind man who received sight through the actions of Jesus. This caused a stir among the religious leaders. They questioned the man twice and the man turned the table on them in the 27th verse when he asked them if they wanted to become disciples of Jesus. They called into question the origin of Jesus and the man answered them: “Well, here is an amazing thing, that you do not know where He is from, and yet He opened my eyes. We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him. Since the beginning of time, it has never been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, He could do nothing.” (John 9:30-33 NASB)
This man who had been born blind but now sees understands the nature of God better than those who have studied the Law and profess to be the leaders and scholars of their day. Jesus could not do the things He did if He were not from God. The leaders turn their attention toward Jesus. Jesus then uses terms that they would understand. He spoke of sheep and shepherds. He told them that the sheep knew their shepherd and would come when called. He spoke of that fact that a good shepherd would be willing to sacrifice himself for the sheep. Jesus even told them that there are others outside the realm of the Jews who would be included in the fold of sheep coming to the voice of this shepherd. We are told that some believed and others still refused to believe.
As we reach the 22nd verse of chapter 10, Jesus is in Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Dedication. The Feast of Dedication, now known as Hanukkah, was established as a memorial to the purification and rededication of the temple by Judas Maccabeus in 165 B.C. Just three years earlier, the king of Syria had captured Jerusalem and sacrificed a sow to the god Jupiter on the altar inside the temple. This gave rise to the Maccabean revolt that drove out the Syrians. Solomon's Colonnade (or Porch) was a long walkway covered by a roof supported on pillars on the east side of the temple, overlooking the Kidron Valley. Jesus used it as a center for informal teaching and preaching, since there were almost always some people present for worship at the temple.
At that time the Feast of the Dedication took place at Jerusalem; it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple in the portico of Solomon. The Jews then gathered around Him, and were saying to Him, “How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me. But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:22-30 NASB)
Are you the Christ? Tell us plainly are you the Christ? Jesus not only told them; He demonstrated His power through the many miracles he did in public places. He then tells them their refusal to believe in Him meant that they were not His sheep. Just as surely as God demands to be the only god, Jesus is telling the religious leaders that denying Jesus is to deny God and thus be excluded from the pasture. The pharisees were saying that Jesus was blaspheming for claiming to be the son of God. Jesus answered them; If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.” (John 10:37-38 NASB)
Jesus left them and went to the other side of the Jordan River and we are told; Many came to Him and were saying, “While John performed no sign, yet everything John said about this man was true.” Many believed in Him there. (John 10:41-42 NASB)
For the past several weeks, we have followed Jesus through a trial and crucifixion. We have seen His Resurrection and His visiting with His disciples. All through the recorded history of His life, we have seen many miracles done that showed His power and the power of God done through Him. Yet, many still have doubts. Some accept that Jesus was a good man. He teaches great philosophy. He teaches us to love others and to help those in need. So do many other great men in history. What make Jesus unique?
The Pharisees saw the miracles of Jesus and were ready to attribute them to Satan rather than to God. As enlightened people, we read about those same miracles and we immediately try to explain them away. The idea of an all-powerful god is too much couched in superstition that we won’t even allow that God created the world. For many, the world came into existence through violent upheavals in the cosmos that spewed material randomly across the universe. The cooling process defined the various planets and their satellites. Some of those planets, somehow had chemicals that united to from water and life began to generate on those planets. For those not well schooled in math, the odds for all of these random events happening in the precise order that spawned life as we now know it would make playing the lottery seem like a sure thing. Regardless of what you believe, you must start with the basis of faith. Your faith is in the precision of random chaos producing everything or your faith is in; In the beginning God.
If you choose to believe in God, then you will need to also believe in His son. The Pharisees believed in God but still had not come to believe in Jesus. Consider, Jesus tells us that He is the only way to reach the Father. Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. (John 14:6 NASB)
Later, Peter was told to stop preaching about Jesus and he declared before the Sanhedrin; And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12 NASB)
Paul tells us in Romans the 8th chapter; Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1 NASB)
John writes; And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. (1 John 5:20 NASB)
If we seek to find God, if we seek salvation, if we seek to stand before God without condemnation, if we seek to find eternal life, we find all of these things in Jesus. There is no other way to find the many promises of God outside of Jesus.
It really is that simple. When we turn our backs on Jesus we turn away from God and His promises. Jesus is our shepherd and His sheep hear His voice. Do you hear it this morning?