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Jesus Unfiltered - Follow
If we think about it very hard, we admit that there’s not much in this life we actually control. In this series, from John chapters 6 – 10, Chip Ingram explains that to follow someone or something means we willingly let someone else lead. When Jesus asks people to follow Him, He means He will take on the responsibility to provide, lead, protect, and love – and as followers, we agree to believe, trust, and obey – even when it’ll take everything we’ve got, to do that. Chip details the journey from forgiveness to freedom, as he fills in the blanks of what it means to follow Jesus.More from this series
What are you most thirsty for today? Not your whole life, but just today. What are you most thirsty for? What do you wish? What are you hankering for? What do you long for?
Second, there are days where it seems that events, circumstances, answers to prayer, relationships – it really does feel like it is a wonderful world. And you feel satisfied. You ever think about what the word means?
To be satisfied is the feeling experienced when one’s wishes are met, when you are content, when you are delighted, when you are happy, when there is enjoyment, gladness, gratification. It’s just a moment and you relish the moment.
See, we all have times where we thirst for certain things. It’s human. And there are times when we experience deep, deep satisfaction. So let me ask you. What has really been satisfying for you lately? What event, what person, what moment in the last twenty-four or forty-eight hours or week you would say, Whoo, boy, that was good. It is a beautiful world.
And then, finally, life isn’t always what we would like it to be. It’s not even what God would always want it to be. And the word “dissatisfied” means: not to be content, not happy, not pleased with something, not pleased with someone. To be dissatisfied is to be miserable, aggravated, gloomy, melancholy, despondent, restless, annoyed.
If you had to come up with the one thing, right now, that you’re dissatisfied in, you’re really dissatisfied about, what would it be? It could be a person, it could be a relationship, it could be a job, it could be a circumstance, it could be something about your health. But where are you dissatisfied?
Because, see, the fact of the matter, if you don’t process and begin to ask yourself, What do I desire? What do I wish? Where are my passions? What am I thirsty for? Where am I really satisfied, but where am I dissatisfied? Then what happens, you just go through life juggling.
Jesus made an outrageous, outrageous promise to quench our thirst and to satisfy us at a very deep, deep level that would be completely independent of external things.
We will look at this a little bit later, but follow along as I read John chapter 7, “If anyone is thirsty, come and drink of Me.” And then in case you don’t know what that means, He’s going to say, “For everyone who believes,” to come to Him and to drink is to everyone who believes, who relies on, who depends on, who trusts in Me, “‘out of his innermost being will flow rivers, continuously, of living water,’ speaking of the Holy Spirit that would come,” and the intimate relationship of actually knowing God. Not knowing about God, but knowing and being connected deeply to Him.
Solomon was the wisest man in the world. He took over for his father, David. And he was pretty uptight about a big job that he couldn’t handle. And God came to him and said, “What would you request of Me?” And he had a great moment. He had a few bad ones later, but he had a great moment.
And he just said, “This job is way bigger than me. Give me wisdom.” And God answered his prayer. He said, “I am going to give you more wisdom than any person before you who has ever lived, and I am going to give you more wisdom than any person that will ever live after you.”
And the Hebrew word for wisdom, it’s not just intellectual or cognitive. The word literally means, “skill.” It’s understanding how all of life and how relationships with people and priorities and money and decisions – it’s: How has God designed life? And the skill or the wisdom to do life according to God’s path, in order that He might bless you and prosper you and give you that joy and peace and love, and that things would work in a way that your life works in a way that points up to Him.
And this is what he said, Proverbs chapter 2. I just, this desire for satisfaction, this thirst that you have, there is a way to quench it. And we are going to talk about how you can experience that.
Solomon would write, “My son, if you’ll receive my words and treasure my commandments within you, make your ear attentive to wisdom, and incline your heart to understanding.”
Now, just stop for a moment. This is the wisest man in the world, he is speaking to his son, and to us. He says, “Receive my words; treasure,” like in a safety deposit box, like super precious, “my commandments” – where? “within you.” And then there is this attitude, “Make your ear attentive,” or literally, “incline your heart to understanding.”
Then notice verses 3 and 4, he talks about a passion, a commitment, a desire, a thirst. “If you cry out for discernment, lift your voice for understanding.” Literally, pray! Ask! Come after it! If you seek for her as silver and search for her as for hidden treasure,” then here is the result, “then you will discern the fear of the Lord, who He really is, and you’ll discover the knowledge of God.”
Now get this, “you’ll discover,” this isn’t knowing about God. This isn’t like you would have a textbook and say, “This is what God is like.” This is like you would actually meet and experience. Jesus, at the last night that He lived, He said, “This is eternal life, that you might know Him,” experientially, “and His Son, whom He has sent,” speaking of Himself, “for God gives wisdom.” He gives this skill, this ability, to know how to live in such a way to quench the deepest thirst of your life.
And just before we turn the page and learn how – where does Jesus say, look at the notes, where does Jesus say this thirst gets quenched? “Streams of water within you.”
See, what I am going to suggest is when I ask questions about, What are you satisfied about and what are you dissatisfied about? For most of us, we are thinking there is something out there. If that happened or if that wouldn’t have happened; if this person or that person or this job or this health…
So many of us look to satisfy our thirst out there and Jesus is going to teach us that, you know what? You can get this, you can gain this, you can do this, you can have that, but pretty soon, the new car gets old, the new job gets old, the relationship you thought would never, ever have a problem. He is going to say, “Let Me quench your thirst from within with Me first.” And when that happens, all the rest will get in order. Make sense?
Now, turn the page if you will. And I want to talk about, How do you get that wisdom? Literally, how to unearth spiritual wisdom from God’s Word. And here’s what I want you to get.
Solomon said you’ve got to dig, you’ve got to search, you’ve got to seek, you’ve got to treasure, you’ve got to cry out. There is a wisdom that leads to quenching the deepest thirst of our lives, and it comes out of God’s Word, but it’s not just on top of the ground. You’ve got to dig. There has to be a passionate pursuit.
God wants to know, Do you really want to know Me? And here’s my experience, I believe most Christians really don’t know how to open the written Word in order to experience the living Word, where you have a relationship where when you have a decision to make or you don’t know what to do or when you’re really down.
My experience is most Christians don’t know how to get into this written Word so the Spirit of the Living God begins to speak very personally and passionately and clearly to give you the wisdom to, not just address big problems, but to be on a path that you were made to be on, to do what He made you to do, to bring the greatest joy and the greatest peace in your life.
And so, what I am going to suggest is there is a truth here. And the truth is that the Spirit gives life, the flesh counts for nothing. And then underline this: “The words I have spoken to you,” and then circle the word: “are Spirit and they are life.”
Jesus said, “The actual words,” they are written down now, but His actual words, the words of the New Testament, they are Spirit and they are life.
I want to give you tools and teach you how to actually open and study the Bible, where you can learn it as well or better than me.
Early on, when I read it, I couldn’t understand much of it. I want you to know you can. And it’s the key to quenching your deepest thirst.
Three tools. Tool number one is context. As you read through the Bible, the context. In other words, what informs this passage? We are going to read in just a minute that Jesus goes during this time, He has been out. The context is He has been out in a rural area, because they are seeking to take His life.
The timing is it is six months before the crucifixion. His popularity was blown out of the doors, then He set the bar and said, “If you’re really going to follow Me, you need to deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Me.” And a great many of His disciples said, “We are not going to follow anymore.”
And so there is this big feast. It’s called The Feast of Tabernacles. And the context of this, I want to give it to you just before we read it. The context is, is there are three great feasts in the Old Testament, the Jewish Law. This was the happy one.
It was called the Feast of Tabernacles, because what it was is, remember they were delivered from Egypt, crossed the Red Sea, then they are in the wilderness, it’s really desert.
And God, there was a cloud by day and a fire by night. So He guided them, He provided the manna or the food. They ran out of water; there was water out of the rock. He did all these miracles. And, yet, when He gave them a chance to go into the Promised Land, remember? They wouldn’t believe.
This is really important because of what is going to happen. And then when they finally would believe, actually, the whole generation, it took forty years. They die. And then those who were under twenty and above, they go into the Promised Land, the Jordan parts, there is Jericho. It’s this formidable city. They walk around it seven times for seven days.
And then they shout according to what God says, because He wanted them to know He is going to be the victor, not them. The walls crumble, and you have this amazing land of milk and honey and promise and vineyards that you didn’t plant and houses and so God, the Promised Land becomes a reality.
After that happened, the Feast of Tabernacles is you would go and gets some sticks and some leaves, and you would make a little lean-to and the roofs were flat back then. You would do it on your roof, they did it in the streets, they did it in the courtyards of the temple.
And if you were twenty years old and older, as a male, and you lived within fifteen miles, you had to, it was an obligation, to come to this feast in downtown Jerusalem. So here is the picture. There are all these sticks and all these people. The kids are going, “We camp out for seven days! This is great.” Okay?
Thousands of people come, and it’s also, it’s often called the Feast of Ingathering. So the grapes, first, are coming in. The wheat had just come in. The fruit trees, everything is blooming. So there is music, there is food, it’s seven days, it’s a party, they are celebrating. Remember our forty years in the desert? We are remembering God did this and He brought us! We have the Promised Land! And remember there was water that came out of the rock? And it’s just seven days of this.
And then on the seventh day, this would be really important, the chief priest, or at least one of the head priests would take a golden vessel and there would be a parade and he would go down to the Pool of Siloam, right in Jerusalem, and he would fill it with water, and they would follow him, and then he would come back and he would walk around the altar seven times, and then he would take the water and he would pour it out, reminding them that God gave water out of the rock to end the big celebration.
Now, in your mind, remember this. Here’s what happened. On the last day of the feast, right after that happened, okay? They are remembering, Promised Land, all that God did, okay? Jesus steps up. The water has been poured on the altar. Everyone is remembering on the memorial of what God has done.
And when it says, “a loud voice,” the literal word is: “He cries out!” “If any man thirsts, let him come and drink of Me! For whoever believes in Me, relies on Me, trusts Me, follows Me, out of his innermost being will continually flow living water.”
So you got the context? Okay, let’s read it. And what I want to do is I just want to give you, let’s read just the first thirteen verses, because I want you to now, with that in your mind, think about what was happening. Chapter 7, verse 1.
“After this,” after what? After He fed five thousand, and many of the disciples aren’t following Him, but Peter and His disciples said, “Lord, where would we go? You’ve got the words of eternal life. We are in. We are all in.”
“After this Jesus went around in Galilee, purposefully staying away from Judea, because the Jews were waiting to take His life. But when the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles,” that I just described, “was near, Jesus’ brothers said to Him, ‘You ought to leave and go to Judea, so that Your disciples may see the miracles that You do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show Yourself to the world.’ For even His own brothers did not believe in Him.”
Now, I don’t know about you, but could we pause for just a minute? If you had a brother in your family who you really cared about, and you knew that they were trying to kill him in Jerusalem, I’m not sure the most loving, kind thing you have ever done is, “Hey, you’re doing these miracles. If you really think you’ve got it all together why don’t you go do a few miracles…?”
So the first group who doesn’t believe are the people who have grown up with Him, His own brothers. “Therefore, Jesus told them, ‘The right time,’” literally, the word for time here is opportunity. “‘The right time for Me has not yet come, for anytime is right for you. The world cannot hate you, but the world hates Me because I testify that what the world does is evil. You go to the feast, I’m not yet going up to the feast, because for Me, the right time has not yet come.’ Having said this, He stayed in Galilee.” So His brothers go.
“However, after His brothers had left for the feast, He went also, not publicly but in secret. Now, at the feast, the Jews were watching for Him, and asking, ‘Where is that man?’ Among the crowds, there was widespread murmuring.” It’s actually the exact, same word used in the Old Testament when they were getting ticked off with God and things weren’t going their way, so the people murmured.
“Some said, ‘He is a good man,’ others said, ‘No, He deceives the people.’ But no one would say anything publicly about Him for fear of the Jews.” If you said Jesus was a good man or the Messiah, you would get kicked out of the synagogue, and you’re gone and you’re alienated.
Now, do you have the context? You’ve got the idea of what is happening here? Let me tell you why this is so important. If, and, again, please hear, all I am saying is I love you. I want to help you.
If your routine is, I read a little devotional and I read a couple of verses and I read “The Daily Bread,” or I go on YouVersion and I read a little something here and something there. And I do it maybe once a week, maybe twice a week. And I don’t really know what is going on but I want to get a little nugget for the day, you’re never going to have streams of living water coming out of your heart and life.
You’ve got to know what it says. When you were learning to write code, you didn’t go to class every seventh day. When you were learning an instrument, what you’re great at right now, you didn’t say, I’d like to learn to play the clarinet or the guitar or the piano, or, I took two voice lessons. I think I’ve got it!
When you were deciding that you would be an artist or an athlete or one of your kids who are doing that, you didn’t say, “Why don’t you go to the first practice and then we will go to the game later. You don’t really need all that stuff.”
When some of you who said, I want to do a startup, you didn’t say, I think I’ll read a couple of books. Let’s see, “Essentialism,” that sounds like a good one and maybe “The Lean Start Up,” but who needs an MBA? Right? Who needs to study physics, who needs to study technology? I’ll just wing it.
Right? Does anyone do life like that? But here’s the thing. Unconsciously, that’s how we approach the Bible.
Do you understand how many times that you can jump on a verse or think God is saying this or make a decision that is really important, but you don’t know the context of what the Bible is really saying? And you can miss.
The second thing is context is important. The next is content. And by content, this is what I mean, is, what is the basic flow of information? Just the basic flow. If you’re studying physics and there is a whole chapter on quantum physics, you don’t read the first two pages and say, “I’ve got it.” You read the whole chapter. What are we talking about in this chapter? And then you go back after you get the flow and then you get it.