Fourthly and lastly, be willfully ignorant...be willfully ignorant. It's unimaginable what their response is to this conversation in verse 25 and so they were saying to Him, "Who are You?" That is an unbelievable question. You know, that is an unimaginable response when you stop to realize the ministry that Jesus has had up to this point...healing people, creating food to feed the mouths, as it were, of multitudes of people, walking on the water, creating wine at a wedding, incredible power. They had seen this, many of them first hand, they had heard His powerful words, words which had never been spoken by any man. And yet they say, "Who are You?" It reminds me of the blind man in chapter 9, they came to him and said, "Who is He that did this? Where is He from? And he said, You mean, you don't know where He's from and He made me see?" If he was living today he would say, "Come on, give me a break. You ought to know where He's from. I was blind, He made me see. Take a wild guess." Here they ask the same sneering question in different form, "Who are You...You, literally, You, who are You? Who do You think You are telling us these things, saying these things? What in the world gives You a right to assume that You're going to go above and we're going to go below? That we're going to die in our sins and You're going to go somewhere in the presence of God where we can't come, who do You think You are? Who are you?"
This is just willful ignorance. It should have been patently obvious who He was. How else could it be explained that He was God, if not by what He did, what He said, what He was, and they had seen it all. And Jesus responds by saying, verse 25, "What have I been saying to you from the beginning? I've been telling you who I am, I've been telling you over and over who I am. It's not a secret." Early on He said the temple was My Father's house. He said, "You destroy Me and three days I'll rise again." He said to Nicodemus that He was the Son of God. He said to the woman at the well that He was the promised one, the Savior. It was clear. The message had been given. He had said in that tremendous section in John chapter 5 that all judgment had given from the Father to Him, that He would literally raise the dead, just and unjust, to the resurrection of life and the resurrection of damnation. It was obvious who He was. He had said, "I am the light of the world, you follow Me, you'll never walk in darkness." He said, "I'm the water of life, you drink of Me and you'll never thirst." He said, "I'm the bread, you eat of Me you'll never hunger." He said, "You better eat My flesh, drink My blood or you'll never know God and be saved." He had said it all and He had verified it with a powerful display of miracles. And then stupidly they stand there and say, "Who are You?" And He says, "What have I been saying to you from the beginning?"
And then He says this in verse 26, "I have many things to speak and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true and the things which I heard from Him, these I speak to the world." He says, "I have more to say to you and what I have to say to you comes from God and God is true and God wants Me to speak these things. I have more to say and these are words of judgment. And they're not His words alone, they're the words of God who is the judge." Back in verse 16 He said, "My judgment is true, I'm not alone in it."
So, He's saying to them, "Hey, I've said a lot to you and you ought to know who I am, and now since you've come to the point where you don't know who I am, I have something more to say to you but what I have more to say to you is about judgment." So you move fairly rapidly from chapter 8 verse 12 where He says, "I am the light of the world, he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness," there's an invitation, now comes a condemnation. "I have more to say to you but it's about judgment and I get it from God." And to show you how ignorant they were, verse 27, they didn't realize He had been speaking to them about the Father. They didn't know who He was and they didn't know who His Father was and they didn't even know when He was talking about God. That's how ignorant they were and ignorant because of willful rejection.
In verse 28 He said then to their ignorance, "When you lift up the Son of Man then you'll know." What does He have in mind there? His crucifixion. He says, "When I'm crucified, lifted up, then you'll know that I am He and I do nothing on My own initiative but I speak the things as the Father taught Me. You'll know I am the promised one. You'll know I came from God. You'll know God sent Me and speaks through Me. You'll know it when I'm lifted up."
How would they know it? Well if they had their eyes open, just standing there at the base of the cross and watching what He was doing would have revealed it enough. After all, the centurion said, "Truly, truly this was the Son of God." How did he see it? He saw it in just what was happening on the cross. Add to that that the graves burst open and dead people came alive. Add to that that the veil of the temple was ripped from top to bottom and the access to God was thrown open. Add to that that in 70 A.D. 1.1 million Jews in Jerusalem were massacred and 72 A.D. 20 thousand were slain in Galilee, ten thousand Jewish throats were cut in Damascus in one day. Add to that fifty years later Hadrian destroyed 985 towns in Palestine and slew 580 thousand men and many more were killed in the concomitant events of that massacre.
Stop and look. Add to that that a church was born and Apostles went out in miraculous power preaching and healing, casting out demons and the church was growing and exploding and they filled Jerusalem with their doctrine and they turned the world upside down. He says lift Me up and you'll know...you'll know that I am He and I speak for God. The cross will be the point at which history will be so dramatically altered you'll have to know if you're not blind by your own desire. You'll know.
And then Jesus adds again the most essential aspect of His claim, His relation to God in verse 29, "He who sent Me is with Me, He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him." He just sort of wants to make sure they realize again that He is no operating independent but He is equal to God.
How do you die in your sins? Be self‑righteous, be worldly, be unbelieving, and just be willfully ignorant. And you know the sadness of it all? Even after the cross they knew. Hey, they knew He rose from the dead. They paid the soldiers to lie about it because they knew it. They knew the church was born. They knew the phenomena of the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost in, as it were, great cloven tongues of fire. They knew that Peter was healing everybody in his shadow. They knew that the lame man in the temple could walk. They knew. But sin loves darkness. And it is willfully ignorant.
You want to die in your sin? Be self‑righteous, worldly, unbelieving and willfully ignorant. But there's another alternative, look at verse 30. Thank God for this. "As He spoke these things, many came to believe in Him." Isn't that wonderful? What about you? Those people who believed, they went where Jesus is. They did not die in their sins. They died with their sins completely paid for. Only such people enter into heaven and only such people share this table. Shall we bow together in prayer?
Father, as we come to this time of remembrance of the death of our dear Savior, our hearts are filled with joy and yet with the desperate need for confession, for we must examine ourselves, to be certain that we do not partake in an unworthy way. There cannot be anything between us and You, and so we come now to this time of confession. Father, if there are any in our midst this morning, and I'm sure there are, who are going to die in their sin, who are holding on to their own religious achievement, who are holding on to the world, who have refused to abandon themselves in full faith and belief in Jesus Christ, who are willfully ignorant, O God, may they turn from that, even now, and reach out and embrace the Savior and believe like those that day. Father, may they in believing be cleansed and fit to partake of this table which remembers Your death and Your saving work.
And then, Father, for those who are Christians, may this be a time of confession for us. We get our hearts right with You so there's nothing between us and Yourself.
Let me lead you in a prayer and just pray with me. Lord Jesus, I sin, I see my sin, grant that I may never cease grieving because of it, never be content with myself, never think I can or have reached a point of perfection. Lord Jesus, kill my envy, command my wayward and unruly tongue, trample down myself and pride. And, Lord Jesus, give me grace to be holy, kind, gentle, pure, and peaceable, to live for You and not for self, to copy Your words, Your acts, Your attitude, grace to be transformed into Your likeness, to be consecrated holy to You, to live entirely to Your glory. And deliver me from attachment to things unclean. Deliver me from wrong relationships, wrong associations. Deliver me from the predominance of evil passion. Deliver me from the hypocrisy of an outward mask, without an inward purity. Deliver me from the sweetness of sin as well as its bitterness. Lead me to an earnest heart searching and a casting of myself on You, to trust You, to cry out to You, to be delivered by You from the sin which so easily besets. And may I know, O God, that You are the eternal all and all and that all things are shadow but You are substance, all things are quicksand but You are a rock, all things are shifting but You are firm. All things are ignorance but you are truth and wisdom. And if we sin willfully and grievously and even unwittingly, may Your grace take away our mourning and give us music, remove our sackcloth and clothe us with beauty, still our sighs and fill us with a song, wash and cleanse us, Father,