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                          "THE GOSPEL OF JOHN"

               Even His Brothers Did Not Believe (7:1-9)

INTRODUCTION

1. In a gospel designed to create faith in Jesus, John tells of those
   who lacked faith...
   a. Those in His own nation - Jn 1:11
   b. Those among His disciples - Jn 6:66

2. For a time, even His own brothers (named in Mt 13:55) did not
   believe...
   a. As recorded in Jn 7:5
   b. As implied in Mk 3:21
   c. As foretold in Ps 69:8
   -- Though they eventually came to believe in Jesus - Ac 1:14

3. Why did Jesus' brothers not believe in Him from the very
   beginning...?
   a. Had they not seen the miracles?
   b. Did they not know Him as well as anyone?

[Reasons why they did not believe at first, and the reason they came to
believe at last, can provide some valuable lessons for us today...]

I. WHY THEY DID NOT BELIEVE

   A. POSSIBLE REASONS FOR THEIR UNBELIEF...
      1. Perhaps they were blinded by familiarity
         a. As is often said, "Familiarity breeds contempt"
         b. This hindered many who knew Jesus from childhood - Mt 13:
            54-58
         c. A problem common among prophets - Mt 13:57; Jn 4:44
      2. Perhaps they were blinded by envy
         a. Large crowds had been following Jesus everywhere
         b. Making it difficult for His family to speak to Him at times
            - Mt 12:46-47
         c. Jealousy can be a powerful hindrance to seeing things
            clearly
      3. Perhaps they were blinded by preconceptions
         a. Many Jews had wrong conceptions concerning the kingdom - cf.
            Jn 6:15
         b. His brothers had their ideas as to what He should do - Jn 7:
            2-4
         c. It is easy to reject someone if they do not live up to your
            expectations
      -- For one reason or another, Jesus' brothers did not believe in
         Him

   B. A WARNING FOR US TODAY...
      1. Do we let familiarity blind us to the truth?
         a. Do we reject what a close friend or relative may tell us?
         b. Especially since they have their own faults of which we are
            well aware?
         -- Truth can be communicated by imperfect messengers - cf. Ph
            1:15-18
      2. Do we let envy get in the way of truth?
         a. Are we jealous that we might be wrong and others may be
            right?
         b. Do we think that by admitting others are right, it somehow
            makes them better?
         -- Truth (and salvation!) is too precious to let envy or
            jealousy keep us from it
      3. Do we let preconceived notions obstruct a clear evaluation of
         the truth?
         a. Refusing to reexamine our cherished beliefs?
         b. Rejecting a view or teaching simply because we have never
            heard it before?
         -- Truth requires a willingness to hear, and has nothing to
            fear from investigation - Ac 17:11

[Don't discount the potential impact of familiarity, envy, or
preconceptions.  Such blinded the brothers of Jesus so that even His
miracles did not convince them!  What finally prompted them to believe
is worthy of note...]

II. HOW THEY CAME TO BELIEVE

   A. THE REASON FOR THEIR FAITH...
      1. As noted previously, Jesus' brothers eventually became
         disciples
         a. They were with the apostles after the Ascension - Ac 1:12-14
         b. James, the Lord's brother, became a key figure in the church
            at Jerusalem - Ac 12:17; 15:13; 21:18; Ga 2:9
         c. James and Judas wrote their respective epistles - Jm 1:1;
            Jude 1
         d. According to secular history, James was martyred for his
            faith
      2. What changed them?  The resurrection of Jesus from the dead!
         a. Jesus appeared to James - 1Co 15:7
         b. The others may have seen Him on other occasions - cf. 1Co 
            15:6
      3. The significance of Jesus' resurrection
         a. Miracles can be faked
         b. Rising from the dead cannot!
      -- The resurrection shattered any blinders of familiarity, envy,
         preconceptions

   B. A BLESSING FOR US TODAY...
      1. It is understandable that one might find the gospel story
         incredible
         a. A man born of a virgin?
         b. A man who was the Son of God?
         c. A man who supposedly...
            1) Walked on water?
            2) Calmed the seas?
            3) Fed thousands with five loaves and two fish?
            4) Healed the sick and lame, gave sight to the blind, raised
               the dead?
            5) Was Himself raised from the dead?
      2. Yet there is a good reason to believe the incredible story!
         a. That is, the conversion of those like Jesus' brothers
            1) Who at first did not believe (for whatever reason)
            2) Who were persuaded by overwhelming empirical evidence
               - cf. Ac 1:3; 10:39-41
            3) Who never recanted their testimony, despite hardship and
               persecution
         b. What else can explain the transformation of Jesus' brothers?
            1) It was the same thing that transformed the disciples of
               Jesus!
            2) "If the disciples were totally disappointed and on the
               verge of desperate flight because of the very real reason
               of the crucifixion, it took another very real reason in
               order to transform them from a band of disheartened and
               dejected Jews into the most self-confident missionary
               society in world history." - Pinchas Lapide, former
               Chairman of the Applied Linguistics Department at
               Israel's Bar-Iland University (TIME, May 7, 1979)
            3) This Orthodox Jewish scholar concluded that a bodily
               resurrection could possibly have been that reason!
      -- The conversion of His brothers and others who first doubted
         should strengthen our faith in Jesus!

CONCLUSION

1. The unbelief of Jesus' brothers serves as a warning...
   a. How easily one can be blinded by such things as familiarity, envy,
      and preconceptions
   b. How carefully we must give others a fair hearing

2. The unbelief of Jesus' brothers also serves as a blessing...
   a. Their eventual conversion implies overwhelming evidence of Jesus'
      resurrection
   b. Since we believe in Jesus through the words of such men, the
      foundation of our faith is stronger

With the help of their own example, we can heed the exhortation given by
one of Jesus' brothers:

   "But you, beloved, BUILDING YOURSELVES UP ON YOUR MOST HOLY FAITH,
   praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God,
   looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life."
                                                         (Jude 20-21)
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