Let us pray: Dear Savior, although we live in a world bombarded by information, we’re saddened that so very few understand You correctly. We’re saddened by the fact that so many refuse to delve into Your Word of truth, refuse to study the prophecies about You, and refuse to actually read Your Word. Instead they settle for 4th hand accounts of Your life and Your mission and end up scoffing and mocking You at every turn. Savior, don’t let us fall into that trap. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE PRINCE OF REAL PEACE!
TEXT: John 7: 40-43
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
The old Greek word was: labyrinth. The old English word is: maze. You know what I’m referring to. Perhaps you’ve been out to an area orchard and tried to find your way through the maze they constructed in a cornfield. A maze is an ancient, about 3400 year old, pathway that is obscure. It has many dead ends and false passages leading nowhere. The ancient Greeks used them as a picture for the obscure, dead-end, blocked passageways of life. About 1000 years ago a monk in Europe began using the maze to better illustrate the hard, often blocked, narrow-way that the Christian must walk in order to eventually reach heaven. In fact, our English word: clue, comes from the Old English word: clewe, meaning the ball of string laid down in order to retrace your steps to find your way out of a maze. Interesting, isn’t it?
Although some churches have constructed mazes for people to walk in order to foster Christian discipline among the membership, I really don’t like the idea. The reason for that is it focuses too much on the false passageways and dead-ends that we make for ourselves in life and doesn’t focus enough on the clear, concise way to heaven that God provides through Jesus Christ. And so, on the basis of this little section of today’s Gospel, I want to remind all of you:
DON’T GET CAUGHT IN A MAZE OF YOUR OWN MAKING
At the time of our text, Jesus was fully grown, had begun His ministry, and was a year or so into it. Already He had performed miracles: changing water into wine at Cana, healing various people, feeding the 5000, and walking on water among others. He had preached His sermon on the mount in Galilee. Now He’s in Jerusalem during the feast of the tabernacles, dating back to those ancient times during the Exodus when the people dwelt in portable booths because they were constantly on the move at that time. In short, He’s dealing with folks who were backward looking and didn’t grasp that their final home in heaven was being secured for them that very minute by God’s Son Who would suffer and die to win it for them, for you, and for me.
Jesus has just addressed the crowd concerning drinking in the water of eternal life, His word of truth. The people are intrigued by it all. He taught with authority! He seemed to know the exact answers to any and every question! Some folks in the crowd said: “Surely this man is the Prophet. Others said, ‘He is the Christ!’ Still others asked, ‘How can the Christ (the promised Messiah) come from Galilee? Does not the Scripture say that the Christ will come from David’s family and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?’ Thus the people were divided because of Jesus.”
As we sit here roughly 2000 years later, such words might seem silly to us. After all, we have the benefit of both Matthew’s and Luke’s gospel accounts of Christ’s birth. Matthew gives us the Davidic genealogy of Joseph’s line. Luke provides us with details about the blessed family’s journey to Bethlehem and Christ’s miraculous birth there along with the escape to Egypt and final journey back to Nazareth in Galilee. We know that Jesus fulfilled every single Messianic prophesy perfectly. However, by this time Joseph was dead and the story of the shepherds and wise men was forgotten. It was “old news” that no one remembered. And that speaks volumes about the hardness of the human heart. It tells us that few listened to the shepherds and even fewer took their message to heart. Why? Could it be that most were too busy constructing their own maze on their journey through life? Could it be that they got caught up in their own maze and couldn’t find a way out? Could it be that God’s clue to it all: Christ, wasn’t as snazzy and exciting as money, fame, fortune, and personal ego?—Of doing it: “My way?”
The other day my lovely wife and I had a discussion. It’s always a good thing to take stock of one’s life in a new year. And I told her: “The reason God doesn’t give us total fulfillment over life at once, the reason He makes things clear over time, instead; is that if He gave us total fulfillment in one fell swoop as He does in heaven, we’d be overwhelmed. We would be on sensory overload. We’re just not able to handle it all at once because sin has blunted our appreciation of His boatload of blessings.”—So instead we must take them in slowly, step by patient step, one building upon another.
Let’s come back to the maze. Life seems a maze more often than not. “Should I take this job? Should I change careers? Is this the right gal or guy for me to get serious about? Who should I trust with my money? How do I know that this religion is better than that one? Shouldn’t I be happy all the time? Why does trouble come? Why does sickness come? Why did grandma have to die just now?” Of course, the answer to all those questions is: God makes things clear over time and we have to be patient. And such patience is what the Bible means when it says: “Work out your salvation in fear and trembling.” Total fulfillment, total answers right now to everything would mean you wouldn’t have to trust in God anymore. It would mean humility would get tossed aside. It would mean you would not need a Savior. Yes, we all construct mazes to walk. But since we’re not all-knowing builders we make false passageways, build dead ends, and end up being frustrated by our own limitations because we don’t really research or rely on the Master Builder and the clues that He openly provides us with.
If these people in Jerusalem had actually researched out Christ’s life. If they had taken the time to study Scripture and seen perfect fulfillment of it in Christ, they would not have mocked Jesus. They would not have put Him down. After all, calling someone a “Galilean” was an epithet in those days. Likewise, today, how many clump together all world religions and say: “They all teach the same thing.”? How many hear the Christmas story and the virgin birth, but then say: “Christ really cannot save through water in baptism, or truly be present in the Lord’s Supper, it just isn’t reasonable?” Yes, the human mind, darkened by sin is a powerful builder of mazes. And without Godly help, we’ll all get stuck in a maze of our own making. We need a clue. We need a way out of darkness into light. We need Christ!
King Solomon was extremely wise. He knew about mazes, too. But by God’s grace he once wrote: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” Christ is that Lord! Christ proved it at Bethlehem, at Cana, on the cross, and especially at the empty tomb when He met Mary and Peter and comforted them. He arose from the dead! He arose to show us that by believing and following Him, the mazes of life can never hold us—that fulfillment and joy over walking by faith and not by sight is a blessing, not a curse, because it always fosters hope within. Christ is The Clue! His Word is the unbreakable string of truth. Follow Him and be saved! Amen