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PERSECUTED OUT OF ENVY, #524

"The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole. And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day." (JOH 5:15-16)

As we hold our text in its context, we again see the sovereign grace of God in the new birth of one, and His sovereignty in leaving others over unto their enmity against God, which dwells in natural man. Natural man has a heart of enmity against God. God in His sovereignty leaves one over to that enmity while in others He renews the spirit of their minds by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, and causes them to love the God that by nature we all hate.

This is a discriminating grace. A man lying by the pool of Bethesda was healed, but a multitude lay in that place. In His discriminating grace, Jesus healed one and left the others in their misery.

Of the Jews, a remnant shall be saved. Although they are as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved. What does that mean? It’s one of a city and two of a family, it is not the multitude.

ROM 9:27 says, "Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved." The Lord is going to save those whom He has loved from eternity. What does He save them from? He saves them from that evil, bitter hatred that we all have against God by nature.

We see in our text that the Lord had healed this man and therefore the Jews persecuted Jesus. You would think that the Jews, in their religion, waiting for the coming of the Messiah, would have raised jubilant songs of "Hallelujah, the Saviour of the world is here!" But what did they do? They persecuted Jesus and sought to slay Him because of the bitterness of their hearts that is in men’s hearts by nature. It is because Jesus is the light, and the light shines into the heart and reveals what is in the heart. Where God has not (by His grace) given us a new desire, we have no desire to have the corruption of our heart revealed to us by that light which shines from Jesus Christ.

Look at ROM 9:15. "For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion." It is of God’s sovereign, electing choice. "I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion."

Those who remain unregenerate harden themselves against the love of God. This is the deplorable condition of man by nature. They harden themselves against the love of God. When they see God’s love in restoring one, it turns their heart bitter against the one He’s restored and against the Lord.

ROM 9:18 says, "Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth."

This was the state of the Jews: they were hardened. They believed; they knew this was the Messiah. It wasn’t that they questioned that it was the Messiah; they knew it was the Messiah, but it wasn’t the Messiah that they were looking for. They were looking for a Messiah that was going to come in glory and pomp and sit upon the throne of Israel, and deliver them from the Roman yoke. They had figured out what they were waiting for in a Messiah. They were not looking for a Messiah that would reveal the corruption of their own heart that would bring them to see the lost condition that they were in by nature. They did not want a Messiah that would reveal the bitterness and the hatred in their heart that they had for the love of God, the hatred that they had against their neighbors the Samaritans, and the hypocrisy of their heart.

They were like Naaman: "I thought he would have put his hand over…and I thought he would have…." No. The Prophet of Israel told him to go to Jordan and wash and be clean. That was not the salvation that natural man would choose. Therefore, they hated Him.

When the impotent man found out it was Jesus who had made him whole, Jesus had told him, "Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more." (JOH 5:14a) See what accompanies being made whole: "sin no more." The Jews were not looking for that religion. That religion, being made whole from the power of sin, being delivered from the power of pride and of deceit and of corruption of the heart, was not what they were expecting. They were waiting for a throne that was going to be exalted and a Messiah that was going to be a ruler. They were not looking for a Saviour that would be rejected and despised of men. They came there to persecute Jesus because He had made this man whole.

When the Lord came to this man in the temple, and told him that it was He that had made him whole and said, "sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee. The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole." (JOH 5:14b-15)

When the quickening power of the Holy Spirit opens the soul’s eyes to see sin in its right light, there is urgency in the soul to spread the Gospel message. Is it not true that when your heart was enlightened and when sin became sin, that there became a longing desire for your own parents, for your own brothers and sisters, for your own kinsmen after the flesh?

The Apostle Paul says, "I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh." (ROM 9:1-3)

The Apostle Paul had such a desire for Christ to be formed in them. When? Was it while he was persecuting the church? No, it was when he had seen into his own heart, and seen sin in its right light.

Do you see this impotent man now? He had seen sin in its right light and the first thing he did was to go and tell the Jews that it was Jesus who made him whole. Therefore, they persecuted Jesus. They sought to kill Him.

See another instance of what happened when the Lord gave the woman of Samaria to see into her heart and to see sin in its true nature. Look at JOH 4:28-30. "The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?"

Do you see what her message was? Her message was exactly what the Lord Jesus told the impotent man. Her message was that He showed her the sin of her heart, He showed her all things that ever she did, but she saw it in the right light: "is not this the Christ?" You see, the witness in the heart, when the sin of the heart is revealed, testifies to the conscience that it is the light of the gospel, but man by nature, having enmity against God, rejects that light.

Neither the woman of Samaria nor the impotent man exercised any faith. (See how clearly the sovereignty of God is revealed in these Scriptures.) It was not anything that the impotent man did that attracted Christ. It was not anything that the woman of Samaria did that attracted the Lord Jesus Christ. It was not that they had exercised faith. It was not that they had done anything. It was that the Lord Jesus sought them out while they were on their mad career.

The Apostle Paul, Saul of Tarsus, in his mad career, persecuted the church. The Lord stopped him in his tracks and said, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" The Lord Jesus was first; it was not man.

The Jews were not given the new birth; the renewing of the spirit of their minds, their bitterness, and their enmity against God was not removed. Neither the woman of Samaria nor the impotent man exercised any faith on their part that brought about their salvation any more than the Apostle Paul did. It was not until Jesus, in His sovereign good pleasure, sought them out and worked by His grace to renew their attitude, that they had a new desire.

The woman of Samaria had a stumbling block that kept her from coming to salvation. It was her wrong attitude towards her neighbor. When the Lord said to give Him a drink, her first response was that she had no dealings with the Jews.

JOH 4:9 says, "Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans."

There is an immediate roadblock when the Lord Jesus comes to work grace in your soul and in my soul and in the souls of His people. It isn’t that we did anything for our salvation. Our first and immediate reaction is that we put on the brakes, we put up a guard, we defend ourselves against the grace of God. He comes with irresistible grace against all human reasoning. The same principle stands true with the impotent man.

I came out of a church that I believe were all at the pool of Bethesda. There isn’t anything that is a bigger stumbling block than to argue our inability. This was the stumbling block of the impotent man. It is not a hindrance to the Lord. When the Lord has loved you from eternity, He is going to break down all your excuses. He is going to take away all the obstacles. The impotent man was so preoccupied with his inability and human rationale that when the Lord Jesus spoke to him and said, "Wilt thou be made whole?" he didn’t even answer the question. He didn’t even say whether he was willing or not. He didn’t answer it.

JOH 5:7 says, "The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me."

He showed his inability that justified his laying there for thirty-eight years.

I talked to a man in the background that I was brought up with who was ninety-five years old. I said, "You’ve been under this ministry for fifty years. Can you tell me something that the Lord has done for your soul?"

"You understand that it’s got to be given." And two seconds later he was talking about something different. Where was his heart? If the Lord comes with His discriminating grace, He can break down those barriers, but this is where the heart of man is by nature. We’ve always got something to say to defend ourselves, to justify why we are the way we are. It is not just this man or that woman – that is who we are by nature. By nature we will put up a barrier: that we are the authors of our salvation.

Until God’s Word enters the soul with power, no man will ever become persuaded. You and I can plead with our loved ones; we can beseech them and make ourselves so obnoxious that they will completely avoid our company because we plead with them to hear the gospel. It isn’t until the Word of God comes with power in the soul that any man will become persuaded.

"For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. [Notice, it is only those whom God has drawn with His Spirit and has quickened with His grace who will call upon the name of the Lord to be saved.] How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? [See how this fits together.] And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. [For those who have heard the preaching, and heard the sent servant of God, have not all obeyed the gospel.] For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith [meaning persuasion] cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (ROM 10:13-17)

It is when the Word of God enters the soul, accompanied by the Spirit of God, that they hear.

As soon as the man unto whom Jesus said, "Take up thy bed and walk," had found out who it was that made him whole, "The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole." (JOH 5:15-16)

Did they obey the gospel? Isaiah said that they have not all obeyed the gospel. They had heard the gospel. The man ran to tell them that this was the man who had made him whole. He had lain there for thirty-eight years. What did they do? They sought to kill Him. The bitterness, the enmity, the pride of their own hearts, and their own envy had not been broken. Their hearts had not been renewed. They did not obey the Gospel.

The Apostle Paul quoted Isaiah saying, "Lord, who hath believed our report?" Those to whom the Word of God has entered with power have believed our report. The Jews heard, and persuasion comes by hearing, so why didn't they believe? ROM 10 says that they hear the Word, and faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. They heard exactly what Jesus had told that man. They heard the Word of God, yet they did not believe. Why?

MAT 13:14-15 shows us. "And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed…"

They have closed their eyes. They do not want to see because by coming to the light (Jesus is the light) they see the corruption, they see the hypocrisy and their own evil nature. They will not come to the light lest their deeds should be made manifest, so they close their eyes. They plug their ears. That is why they don’t hear. They have closed their eyes. Verse 15 continues. "Lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them."

They don’t want to change. They love being the way they are. They have a form of religion, they have a form of godliness, they have a religion that’s impressive to the crowd, and they do not want the truth. They are concerned lest they should understand with their heart, and they would be changed, they would be converted, and the Lord would heal them.

The change of attitude that accompanies salvation is a Divine gift from the Father’s sovereign will. This change of attitude is the new birth.

"Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? [If the Lord has hardened their heart, then how do we find fault? Why is it my fault if the Lord hardened my heart? Watch verse 20:] Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?" (ROM 9:18-21)

The Lord did not make me bitter against Him; Satan did that. The distinguishing grace is that the Lord delivered one from willful bond-slavery to Satan and the other He allowed to go on in his own will. That’s where the difference is. It isn’t that it is God’s fault that a person is serving Satan. That’s why we cannot reply. We say, "Why doth he yet find fault?" There is fault with every person. Every person, by reason of his own rebellious nature, is a bond-slave of Satan, but the distinguishing grace is that God renews those whom He loves. He removes the bitterness, He removes the hatred against God, and He makes them vessels to His honor, in other words who want to live to His honor.

See how those whom God had quickened responded to hearing of the wonder of the coming of the Messiah. The Pharisees, when they heard, were filled with bitterness, and they persecuted Jesus and sought to kill Him. On the other side of the same principle, see the difference in those who have received God’s quickening grace.

LUK 2:25-27 says, "And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. [There’s the difference: the Holy Ghost was upon him. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel just like the Jews were, but the Holy Ghost was upon him.] And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple…"

Notice "the Holy Ghost was upon him", "it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost", and "he came by the Spirit into the temple." He was born of the Spirit. He was born of water, of the Word, of the washing of the water of the Word. He was a devout man. That is where the difference was. It was all of grace. It was the Holy Spirit that brought him to Christ.

Verses 27-29 continue with, "And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word."

See the total contrast in reaction. He wasn’t hiding from the light; the Spirit was upon him. He was devout. He was a holy man. He didn’t have that pride - that unbridled lust in his heart to serve self. The Lord had given him a new heart.

"Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God." Simeon didn’t persecute Jesus. Do you see the difference? The difference was distinguishing grace. The Spirit was upon him. He said, "For mine eyes have seen thy salvation." (LUK 2:30)

The difference was that the Jews closed their eyes so they would not see; they did not want to be changed.

There was also a widow, 80 years old, named Anna, who was waiting in the temple for the coming Messiah, "which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem." (LUK 2:37-38)

To whom was she speaking? She was not speaking to the mass of Jews; she was speaking to those who looked for redemption, who were looking to be redeemed from iniquity.

Instead of being filled with praise for the wonderful revelation of the salvation, which they had seen before their very eyes, Jesus said their hearts were "waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them." (MAT 13:15)

That is where the Jews differed from Simeon and Anna. As Jesus said, their heart was "waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing," they had closed their eyes "lest at any time they should see with their eyes." The difference with Simeon was, "mine eyes have seen thy salvation." With the Jews, they closed their eyes "lest…they should see…and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them."

"And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day." (JOH 5:16)

They wanted to kill Jesus. Their hearts were so filled with enmity against God that they sought to slay Him! They sought to slay Him because He was muddying up their legalistic commandments of men regarding the Sabbath Day. That was their alibi, but the motive of their heart was that He was revealing their sin.

When Jesus came into the temple, Simeon and Anna were moved by the Holy Spirit to exclaim His praise, but when John the Baptist proclaimed Him to the Jews, they were moved with the spirit of jealousy. The Holy Spirit did not move them. That is the distinction. The spirit of jealousy moved them.

With Simeon and Anna there was no one except the Holy Spirit to announce Jesus’ presence, but with the Pharisees we read that they were told in JOH 1:29, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world," but they did not want to hear it. They did not want the truth. They were blocking out the truth.

This miracle of healing of the impotent man was not an isolated proof that Jesus was the Messiah. When they saw this miracle, it was not the first miracle they had seen. The Scripture clearly records that prior to that, they had believed on Him. They knew He was the Messiah.

Jesus had done many miracles in Jerusalem, and the scribes and Pharisees knew and believed that He was the Messiah, but it only made their hearts all the harder. The Lord says, whom He will, He hardens. When people become hardened against the truth, they are much harder than a person that has never heard the truth. To be in this situation is horrible.

JOH 2:23-25 says, "Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. [He had done many miracles recorded in JOH 2. They had seen many miracles.] But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man."

They saw the miracles. They believed in Him, but the Lord Jesus did not commit Himself unto them, because He knew their hearts. He knew that the bitterness of their hearts had not been altered. Their believing only hardened them.

Have you talked to people and shared with them the gospel of salvation? You can tell by their reactions that they know what you’re saying is true, but it makes them bitter because it condemns them. The light is the condemnation of the world, and when the light comes on and they start to understand the gospel and it starts to uncover the nature of their corrupt heart, it hardens them and it makes them rebel against the gospel.

This is what we notice here. The Jews knew; they believed that Jesus was the Messiah, but what did they lack? They were not renewed in the Spirit of their mind! They had not experienced the new birth.

This is what Jesus told Nicodemus, one of the Pharisees who had seen these miracles and who came to Him by night. Nicodemus was one that was singled out of all the Pharisees and given salvation. Nicodemus came to Jesus by night, and the first thing Jesus addressed was his attitude: you must be born again; you must have the renewing of the spirit of your mind. He knew all men, and He needed not that any should testify of what man is. But when one man came to Him by night, "Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, [the washing of the water of the Word, unless the heart is cleansed and the attitude is changed] he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." (JOH 3:5)

Unless that hatred and that enmity against God have been removed, you cannot serve God, you cannot enter His kingdom, and you cannot come under His kingship. That is the clear message of the gospel.

Would it not make a tender conscience tremble when the soldiers came to tell the Chief Priests about how Jesus gained the victory over death and the grave? Can you imagine these scribes, these Pharisees, and these Chief Priests when the soldiers came and told them how an angel from heaven had come and rolled back the stone, how He had triumphed gloriously over death and the grave, and how He had raised again the third day? They came to tell them that.

MAT 28:11shows us, "...behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done." They didn’t hide a thing. They told them exactly what had happened, but what did these hardened criminals say while Jesus was hanging on the cross - these same men who said to the soldiers that they’d give them a large sum of money if they would tell a lie? Did they believe that He was the Messiah? Oh, yes, they did. They knew that He was the Messiah without a grain of doubt, but they rejected Him. Why? "And whom he will he hardeneth."

See how hardened they became. When it came to the point that the heavens were opened, and the angels came down and ushered Him out of the grave, and the soldiers came and told them what they saw, they gave large amounts of money to the soldiers and told them to lie. That’s how hardened they were.

"Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, [It was all those who were the leaders of the church. He was hanging on the cross and they were mocking Him with the scribes and the elders and] said, He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him." (MAT 27:41-42)

Do you see what liars they were? He came out of the grave as He told them He was going to do. They believed, but not unto salvation. Their belief was a mere assenting to a fact, but it was not a changing of the will. To understand what it means to believe unto salvation, we have to understand that it means to be renewed in the spirit of the mind, to become a new creature, to have a right attitude, to come into subjection to the kingship of Christ. Their rebellion was not broken.

The solemnity of these truths spoken in JOH 5:15-16, that the Jews persecuted Jesus and sought to slay him because he had healed a man on the Sabbath Day, so well establishes the truth of ROM 8:6-7. "For to be carnally minded [in the original this means unregenerate or without the quickening grace of the Holy Spirit.] is death; but to be spiritually minded [ to be renewed in the spirit of your mind and attitude] is life and peace. Because the carnal mind [the unregenerate mind] is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be."

Those Jews, unregenerate in their minds, were not able to be in subjection to the law of God because their enmity rose up against their own good judgment. They knew they were wrong, but their bitterness and their hatred for God and for the revelation of the corruption of their own hearts made them so rebellious. They were serving the flesh.

These Pharisees had seen this multitude lay in these five porches for all these years. They had seen them with their eyes. Envy had filled their hearts to such a point that they vented their malicious desire to kill the Divine Hero. They wanted the attention. They didn’t want Christ to have the focus of the people; they wanted it. They were the leaders; they were the ones who had the call; they sat in Moses’ seat. That is why the Divine Hero had to be murdered. They were not willing to accept the humility of conceding that what they had done in the sacrificing of all these lambs was about to be fulfilled: it would dethrone them.

Our text says, "The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole. And therefore [because he had told them that] did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day." (JOH 5:15-16)

These Jews were so jealous of their own legalistic perversion of the Sabbath. They had made such a legalistic commandment of men pertaining to the bearing of a burden, and it made them furious because Jesus had come against their insight and wisdom and their own commandment, and set it at naught.

MAT 12:7 says, "But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless."

They were condemning that man for carrying his bed on the Sabbath, and the Lord Jesus said that if they had understood what that meant, they would not have condemned the guiltless. They condemned Jesus’ disciples as well as the impotent man for violating their legalistic commandments of men regarding the Sabbath.

Verse 8 continues, "For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day." They had no understanding of this because their eyes were blinded, their ears were closed, and they did not want to hear lest they should be healed. They did not understand.

Jesus had told this man to "Rise, take up thy bed and walk," on the Sabbath, and to the Pharisees this violated not only their vain view of bearing a burden, but also what the Lord had said in NUM 15.

They reasoned that Jesus had to be killed because He had violated this: "And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day. And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation. And they put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done to him. And the LORD said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp." (NUM 15:32-35)

Their legalism and their misconception of the Son of Man being the Lord of the Sabbath led them to believe that He had violated the law by ordering a man to bear a burden on the Sabbath Day, therefore Jesus must be put to death. They did not understand what Jesus said, that they would not have condemned the guiltless if they had understood. What didn’t they understand? The Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.

The Scribes and Pharisees did not understand the New Testament principle that Jesus taught them in JOH 8:7. "So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her."

They’d brought unto Him a woman taken in adultery. She also was guilty of capital crime. She must be stoned to death according to their law. When they brought her to Jesus, He said, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her."

That is the New Testament principle. On the Sabbath-breaking, what He was really telling them was that if they were without sin then they should cast the first stone. He asked them why they were condemning the innocent. The man was doing what He told him to do and He is the Lord of the Sabbath. If they had understood the Sabbath rightly, if they had understood that the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath, they would not have condemned that man.

In this other instance with the woman taken in adultery, He let them take one peek at their own heart - not a saving knowledge of sin, but a condemning knowledge of sin - and their own heart condemned them. JOH 8:9 shows this. "And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst."

They did not understand the spirit of the law pertaining to the Sabbath as Isaiah taught it. All they understood was the letter of the law. They did not understand that the letter of the law condemns and there is only one way to satisfy the letter of the law, and that is in the Sacrificial Lamb - that Sacrificial Lamb, which they were offering continually. They did not understand that the only satisfaction of the letter of the law is in the Lamb, which came to take away the sin of the world.

They had this recorded in their own writings. If they had taken the time to read it, and if they had understood it, they would have understood the spirit of the Sabbath Day.

ISA 58:13 says, "If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day…" The Lord is dealing with a heart matter, isn’t He? It’s the spirit of the law to turn away from "doing thy pleasure." Whose pleasure do we seek on the Sabbath? Is it our pleasure or are we seeking what pleases the Lord?

He says that if you would turn away your foot from doing your pleasure on His holy day "and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words."

There is the spirit of the law pertaining to this matter and this they did not understand. It was all the letter of the law, and the man had broken the letter of the law, and therefore, they wanted to kill Jesus. This was why their heart was so filled with malicious hatred that they would kill "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." They would now kill Him!

How little did they know that even their malicious vindication of their legalistic pride was in God’s Providence to bring about the very sacrifice that they were symbolizing with all their burnt offerings. All these burnt offerings were the symbol of the very things that they were going to perform by the malicious vindication of their legalistic office. They were vindicating the letter of the law, and in their malice they brought about the very sacrifice that satisfied their law. How little did they realize that. How little did they realize that in God’s Providence they were making the sacrifice of the "Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." They were sacrificing Him on the altar of God’s justice to satisfy the letter of the law, which they were stumbling over. They sought to slay Him.

It is interesting to note how and why they were not able to do it in their own time. It says in JUD 6, "And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day." Satan and his entire host are reserved in chains.

Have you heard the expression "I have just enough rope to get around to get my chores done"? Satan and his entire host have just enough chain to do what God permits them to do. Job had a hedge around about him and Satan could not touch him. He is in chains: he could not go beyond how much chain the Lord gave him. When the Lord took away the hedge, then he could go after everything Job had, but still could not touch Job. Again, he did not have one link in that chain except what the Lord gave him. Then the Lord allowed him to come against Job, but again, he could not touch his life.

Up until the Day of Judgment, Satan is in chains and he can go only as far as the Lord will let him. They are reserved in chains until the great day, "unto the judgment of the great day."

We notice in our chapter how the Pharisees wanted to slay Him, but they were not yet able to do so. They were not able to do it until it was the Lord’s time, until "The hour is come." That was the hour of darkness we see in JOH 12:23. "And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified."

This was the hour, and until that hour, they were bound in chains. The Lord held all their malice in restraint until the day that the Lord passed judgment. This was the hour: now He turned them loose. This is the way it is in the world today. If it were not for the restraining grace of the God we serve, every Christian would have been removed from the face of the earth centuries ago. The Lord restrains them. He allows them to go just so far and no further.

"Thou didst cause judgment to be heard from heaven; the earth feared, and was still [What God has judged, what God has decreed will stand.], When God arose to judgment, to save all the meek of the earth. Selah. Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain." (PSA 76:8-10)

How did "the wrath of man" praise the Lord? It is in the blessed atonement of His Son. The Lord opened the gates of hell; He turned them loose with all their desired malice, that they could vindicate themselves against the very Lamb of God. They mocked Him, they scourged Him, they spit upon Him, they hit Him, they put a crown of thorns upon Him, and in so doing they made the blessed sacrifice that God had pre-ordained become a reality.

Do you know who it was who crucified Him? It was you and I. It was our sin that nailed Him to the cross. It was our sin that was placed upon His head in that crown of thorns. It was our sin that caused the blood to run down His face as they hailed Him King of the Jews, mocking Him. It was our sin that caused Him to cry out on the cross, "My God, my God, Why hast thou forsaken me?" (MAT 27:46b) That takes away any ill feelings that we may have toward these Jews, these scribes, these Pharisees. It was you and I that did it. It was our sin that brought about His crucifixion.

In God’s Providence, when the hour was come, He turned them loose and allowed them to bring to pass what He had decreed, that our salvation should be purchased.

"Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain." (PSA 76:10) How did He restrain the remainder of their wrath? Their soldiers became as dead men. When it was the Lord’s time to deliver our Blessed Redeemer from the grave, the soldiers that they had set as a watch became as dead men. He restrained the remainder of their wrath. They were not able to hold Him in the grave. He was raised again for our justification.

You and I may be justified because His resurrection is our positive proof that God’s justice has been vindicated. God’s justice has been satisfied, and by His resurrection you and I are called to be raised up to a newness of life. We no longer have to live unto ourselves. We no longer live unto sin. We no longer live unto the things of this life. We now live unto God.

Amen.


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