As we have already begun to celebrate this morning, today is the first Sunday in Advent. And to open the Advent season, I have three big questions.
1. Why did so many of the learned people of the day – the majority of the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the elders of the law and the experts in the law – why did they fail to recognise Jesus as the Christ? なぜ当時の教養のある人たちの多くはイエスがキリストだと認識できなかったのでしょうか？
To answer this we need to look at some of the prophecies and signs in the OT which pointed to the coming Christ.
i. In short, there are many and Jesus fulfills all of them:
Born of Abraham’s seed, son of Isaac, son of Jacob, tribe of Judah, line of Jesse, house of David, born in Bethlehem…
Micah 5:2 -> Matthew 2:1
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”
They didn’t know their Bible well enough.彼らは聖書を十分よく知らなかった。
ii. Isaiah 53. Suffering servant or Reigning King? Two Messiahs?
They weren’t open-minded enough to what God could and would do.
They had closed their minds to what was possible/conceivable and what wasn’t possible/conceivable. That Jesus could be both a suffering servant and a divine King.
iii. Luke 4:18-19 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
– “fulfilled in your presence.”
John 9. Even in the face of miraculous prophetic fulfilment, many of the leaders still would not believe.
They weren’t humble enough. Their hearts were not ready. 十分にへりくだっていなかった。心の準備ができてきなかった。
2. Why do the majority of learned people today – scientists, scholars, educators, religious leaders and community leaders – fail to recognise Jesus as the Messiah (the special anointed One of God) even with the benefit of hindsight and recorded history?
The signs and evidence for Jesus being the Christ are even greater for us today (even 2,000 years after His life) than they were for the people of Jesus’ time.イエスがキリストであるというしるしや証拠はイエスの時代の人々よりも今日の私たちの方が多いのです。
Sure, the first century followers got to hear first hand some amazing teaching and see some extraordinary miracles, but we have
* the resurrection of Christ and
* the the work of the Holy Spirit, first at Pentecost and later throughout the early church.
Today also, the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit – to change lives, instruct our hearts through the Word, heal hearts and bodies, comfort us and guide us – remains true.
So why do people miss the signs? ではなぜ人々はしるしを見逃すのでしょうか？
Why can’t people see or accept these things (as many of us do), both recorded from the past and happening in the present?
i. People simply don’t know their Bible well enough.ただ聖書を十分によく知らない。
They’ve disregarded the Bible. Even many in the church don’t know their Bible well enough (last week’s Bible quiz!) but in many western countries which had a strong tradition of Bible reading, a tragically increasing number of people are Biblically illiterate – never read a Bible – and regard the Bible as a collection of outdated stories rather than as the reliable historical text and authoritative Word of God that it is.
ii. People have closed hearts and minds. 心が閉ざされている。
Many don’t consider the miraculous works of God to be possible so they close their minds to those possibilities. Many refuse to believe that there could be anything more to this world than the things we can see, hear, touch, taste and smell. Part of this is intellectual laziness and part of it is spiritual sloth. Many simply couldn’t be bothered to look past the material into the possibilities spoken of and attested to in the Bible. And yet so much hinges on doing just that.
iii. Many people miss the signs and evidence because, like the Pharisees in John 9, they are too proud and their hearts are just not ready to receive what they see and hear with their own eyes and ears. I’ve shared with many the miraculous works that God has done in my life and people simply don’t want to believe it. 多くの人はプライドが高すぎたり、彼らの心が自分自身の目で見ること、耳で聞くことを受け入れる準備ができていないので、しるしや証拠を見逃すのです。
And this is dangerous ground because Jesus warned doubters that ignoring or denying the work of the Holy Spirit – “blaspheming the Holy Spirit” puts them in danger of committing an unforgivable sin.
iv. Yet one of the biggest reasons people miss the signs is simply that they haven’t heard.
They don’t even know what the signs are. There is a lot of assumed knowledge on the part of Christians today! And for many who have never heard the gospel, when they do hear it, it is often very foreign to their culture. Try asking a Japanese person on the street if they’ve been washed in the blood of the Lamb and see what sort of answer you get. (They’ll probably just run away from you very quickly.) The Jews in Jesus’ day were dealing with a hot topic within their own culture. But many today – here in Japan – when they do hear it, are hearing it for the first time. And this can pose all sorts of challenges. But they are certainly not insurmountable.
But when they do hear it and become familiar with the Christmas story, the reasons for not embracing it are remarkably similar to those reasons given by others in other cultures and other times that we’ve just looked at.
The Advent season is a time for us to consider and to share the strong evidence for Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God アドベント（キリストの降誕）はイエスがキリスト、神の子であるという強力な証拠をよく考え、分かち合う時です。
– in fulfilled Biblical prophecy 成就した聖書的預言において
– in the recorded miraculous works of Jesus, especially His resurrection from the dead
– in the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit as he shapes and changes our lives
But there’s one more question:
3. Why do people fail to recognise Jesus in us? なぜ人々はイエスが私たちのうちにいることを認識できないのでしょうか？
What are the signs and evidence that we should be showing to others?
i. The fruit of the Spirit is a sign and evidence that Jesus lives in us. 御霊の実がイエスが私たちのうちにいるというしるしと証拠です。
People should see ALL of the fruits in our lives. The fruits are not like gifts of the Spirit. You don’t just get one or two and focus on those.
You can’t wallow in peace but forget about patience.
You can’t practice gentleness but discard faithfulness.
You can’t excel in kindness but fail to have any self control.
It doesn’t work like that. Sure, some fruits grow faster and more easily than others but all Christians should be producing all of the fruits of the Spirit and these are some of the signs that Jesus is alive today.
ii. The power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said a few really unnerving things. 聖霊の力
He said, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” John 14:12
Paul also said, “the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.” 1 Cor 4:20
When we walk with God we see Him move in our lives. We see His power in our lives. And this is a testimony to the reality of the Christmas message.神とともに歩むとき、神の力が私たちの生き方に見られます。
Why do people fail to see the fruits and works of the Spirit in our lives?
a. Our failings. 私たちの欠点
– Compliance with the world. この世との順守
I’ve known Christians who have lived immorally. The church, while offering support, says this lifestyle is not right. You need to get right with God. The world says, “That’s how it is for all of us! Don’t worry about it! Welcome to the club!” When the actions of Christians are more acceptable to the world than to the God, we lose believers because they feel more accepted in the world, and the world sees Christians as no different from themselves (other than more disapproving).
– “Failure to launch”乗り出すことができない refers to kids who never mature to independence and never leave the home. We have this in the church, too. Failure to launch. The faith of many Christians never leaves the house. It never goes out there. Many Christians go to church all their lives but never get to a point of spiritual independence where they can share the gospel on their own and lead others to Christ on their own. Part of this might be failure to produce the fruit of the Spirit in their lives but I suspect this has more to do with a failure to explain the fruit of the Spirit in their lives.
b. Their failings – some of the things we’ve already looked at: pride, selfishness, laziness, impatience etc. 彼らの欠点：プライド、身勝手、怠惰、短気など
The Advent season is a time for us to focus especially on Jesus as the centre of all our celebrations and to better prepare our hearts for Him, to commit our lives to Him and to share Him. アドベントは私たちの祝いの中心であるイエスに特に焦点をあて、イエスのために心を準備し、イエスに人生をゆだね、イエスを人と分かち合う時です。
The Advent season is a time for us to behold, rejoice in and share the truth that Jesus is God incarnate – God made man – and that He lives in each of us who choose to receive Him and follow Him. アドベントは、イエスは神が人となられたお方で、イエスを受け入れ、イエスに従おうとする私たち一人ひとりのうちに住んでくださるという真理をよく見て、喜び、分かち合う時です。