Sermon Title:  Land Lovers or Olympic Swimmers?

Summary:  You cannot straddle the fence and be neutral with Jesus.  Once you
are faced with him, you are forced to make a choice, to accept or reject.  The
guards straddled the fence, Pharisees rebelled, but Nicodemus took the risk of
standing with Jesus, which is what we should do.

Function:  To motivate the hearers to stand with Jesus in all walks off life,
whether it be family, moral, political, or social issues.

Text:  John 7:40-53

Scripture Reading:  Matt 10:34-39


Intro:
1.  Title:  Land lovers and olympic swimmers
	a.  I was a land lover
		- Did not like to swim
		- Nearly drowned in River twice
	b.  Stacey teaching Shane to swim as 8 month old
		- Threw him in water
		- Became a fish in water
2.  My problem - Never committed to idea that I was going to swim - rejected it
3.  Some accepted Jesus, others rejected him
	a.  There was division over him (7:40-44)
	b.  (Mt 10:34-36) - Jesus not bring peace, but a sword
		- Man against father, daughter against mother
		- Daughter in law against mother in law
		- Manís enemies will be members of own household
	c.  Have to lose your life - full commitment
4.  Jesus is not a wishy washy person
	a.  Have to make a choice - commit or not commit
	b.  Our text has three reactions to Jesus call ...

I.  Restraint without Resolution (7:45-46)
	A.  v.32 - Cheif priests issued warrant for his arrest
		1.  Sent officers to take him
		2.  They came back empty handed - Where is he?
			a.  Could have said - we feared the crowd, a riot
			b.  Instead - Jesus was a powerful speaker
			c.  Came to arrest Jesus, but Jesus words arrested them!
	B.  They stood in awe of Jesus
		1.  Jesus had a force of presence
			a.  Saw confidence, faith,
			b.  Cried out in middle of festival
			c.  Fearless, yet credible too!
			d.  So much awe, forgot to arrest him!
		2.  They not as sophisticated as Pharisees
			a.  Not have preconceived notions they did
			b.  Not studied the minutae concerning Messiah
			c.  They just simple temple officers
			d.  Maybe they ďthirstyĒ when heard Jesus
		3.  They actually listened to Jesus
			a.  Probably came armed, ready to take him
			b.  But Jesus armed with word of God
				- Living and active
				- Sharper than any two edged sword
			c.  Word created universe!  Powerful
		4.  But they didnít go far enough!
			a.  Doesnít appear they stood with Jesus
			b.  Took a positive step -- they listened
			c.  Maybe they intimidated by religious leaders
	C.  ILL:  Kevin at camp and canoe
		1.  Fearful of everything, not get in canoe
			a.  Had listened to instructions about canoe
			b.  But time came to get in, would not
		2.  I talked with him
			a.  Do you think it will float?  Yes
			b.  You listened to the instruction?  Yes
			c.  Do you think canoe get you to other side?  Yes
		3.  Not going to make it unless you get it
	D.  Itís not enough to simply say Jesus a great man
		1.  Demons believe, and shudder -- No faith
		2.  Have to get in the boat
		3.  Not enough to restrain self and not ďopposeĒ Jesus
			a.  Iíve got nothing against Jesus
			b.  That is not enought
		4.  Have to have repentance

II.  Rebellion without Research (Jn 7:47-52)
	A.  Everyone had an opinion about Jesus
		1.  Many had the wrong opinion - Not did research
			a.  Jesus was born in Bethlehem
			b.  No prophet from Galilee?  Jonah and Nahum
		2.  Problem:  Didnít want to do research
			a.  Used ridicule to deflect the truth
				- Has he deceived you too?
			b.  Used Intimidation
				- No rulers or Pharisees have believed
				- They were who really counted
			c.  Used belittling
				- People are ignorant, thatís why they believe
		3.  Like Acts 7 and Stephen when he spoke 
			a.  Hands over ears and killed him
			b.  Aaaaa! I canít hear you!  
			c.  Childish, immature, stubborn
			d.  Just wanted to shut him up
	B.  Is Jesus still opposed today?
		1.  Pick up newspaper, turn on T.V.
			a.  California - considering passing law to make it illegal to 
			     condemn homosexuality, and to preach the Gospel, 
			      saying Christ is the only way
			b.  Many say we are narrow minded, backwards, 
			      homophobic, bigots, bible thumpers, list goes on
			c.  Still using ridicule and intimidation today
			d.  Buddhist, New Age, etc. more attractive
				- Way is not narrow (Many roads)
				- Jesus says - I am the way
		2.  We not surprised at opposition from unbelievers
		3.  But in the text, opposition from within - from Godís people
			a.  We can leave it in 1st century as a Synagogue problem
			b.  If we bring message forward to us today.....
				- It causes us to stand up and take notice
	C.  ILL:  A friend, who went to HSBS
		1.  For him, it a means of ďmoving upĒ
			a.  Taken with doctors and lawyers at a church in St. Louis
			b.  Saw the money and lifestyle, and wanted it
			c.  Thought preaching a way to get it
		2.  Sold house, moved to Searcy
		3.  Quit after a semester
			a.  Became evident, not a job, but a calling
			b.  Many visiting ministers and missionaries
			c.  Some strange, some poor, none were rich
		4.  Went back home, dissillusioned
			a.  Became critical of Searcy - too much religion there
			b.  People too radical there
			c.  Critical of passionate faith
	D.  That is the kind of opposition Jesus gets today from within
		1.  Okay to go to church, and put in my time
		2.  Donít ask me to give up many more days of the week
			a.  Donít ask me to minister to messed up people
			b.  Donít ask me to go to Africa, Mexico, Russia
		3.  Donít ask me to share the Gospel
			a.  That will set me apart from my neighbors
			b.  It is exclusive, repugnant
			c.  It calls people sinners
		4.  Iíll lose freinds and respectability
			a.  I want to be member of respectable religious fraternity
			b.  I want to be a member, not disciple - too radical
		5.  This is rebellion without research
			a.  Jesus does call for radical faith
			b.  He is not of this world, and neither are his people
			c.  Following him comes with risks....

III.  Risk with Reward 
	A.  Nicodemus stands out in John
		1.  John 3 - Listened to Jesus and considered his words
			- Asked honest questions, not to trap him
		2.  He honestly considered the evidence
			a.  Pharisees not want to consider evidence v.52
			b.  Truth has nothing to fear from examination
			c.  Nicodemus a lover of truth
	B.  Harry Ironside - ďI have never met an infidel who has read a single 
	     serious book of Christian evidenceĒ
		1.  Many of them rebel without research
		2.  On the other hand:  John Clayton
			a.  Set out to prove Bible false
			b.  Was convicted,  why?
			c.  Honestly considered the evidence
	C.  Nicodemus was convinced, and stuck his neck out
		1.  He tried to convince other Pharisees to investigate
		2.  In Kn 19:39 - helped Joseph of Arimathea bury Jesus
			a.  Mk 15:43 - Joseph a member of the council
			b.  Joseph and Nicodemus both respected members!
			c.  Has any of the rulers or Pharisees believed?  YES!
		3.  He could have been put out, disfellowshipped, excommunicated
			a.  Kids not able to go to school at Synagogue
			b.  No longer member of trade guild
			c.  No loans from the bank
			d.  Social and economic life would be gone
		4.  He decided to stand with Jesus
	D.  Still a risk even today
		1.  May not be as high in USA
			a.  But still there
			b.  Someone will react negatively to Jesus
		2.  Jn 16:1-2 - Will cast you out of synagogues and kill you and 
		     think they are serving God
		3.  If not EVER experience negative reaction
			a.  2 Cor 2:14-16 - Aroma v.s Stench
				- No neutral
				- If no reaction, nothing to react to
				- We to be an aroma of Christ
			b.  (Lk 6:26) - Woe when all speak well, their fathers treated 
			      false prophets same way
		4.  On the other hand - (Lk 6:22-23) Blessed are you when men
			a.  hate, ostracize, insult, scorn name as evil for the sake
			      of the Son of Man
			b.  Be glad, leap for joy, reward in Heaven is great

Concl:
1.  Donít be afraid of taking the risk
	a.  Donít be tentative, like temple guards
	b.  Donít reject him without investigation, like Pharisees
	c.  Be more like Nicodemus
2.  ILL:  Back to Kevin at camp
	a.  Award - Got the overcomers award
	b.  Overcame several fears - 2 big ones
		- Got in Canoe (made a deal) He paddled and loved it
		- Deep end of pool, had to JUMP IN
	c.  After award, he was so confident
3.  Jesus gives you confidence and joy
	a.  Jump in with both feet, donít just dip foot in
	b.  Do you still need to take the plunge?
	c.  You will not sink, Jesus has seen to that
4.  Rom 8:37 - In all these things (trials) we overwhelmingly conquer through him
who loved us
	a.  Do you feel like a conqueror, or are you still on the banks?
		- Canít swim!  Iíll drown!  No you wont
		- Peter walked on water, and didnít drown
	b.  Jesus is saying - Donít be afraid, jump in
	c.  When you do - He gives you a certificate == overcomer
		- You will be transformed
		- Not a spirit of timidity, put power, love and self discipline
5.  Do you need to experience his power today?