John 11:54-57 “Looking for Jesus”


I. Looking for Jesus to stay away.

(John 11:54)  Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples.

            Jesus gives the Jews time to cool off and space to repent. He stops appearing publicly and stops doing miracles which inflame the Jewish leaders because they cause men to believe.  He goes to a small town on the edge of the wilderness.  If the Jews come looking for Jesus He will simply slip away into the wilderness and avoid them.  The Jews hope that He is gone for good.  They go for a few months not hearing any reports about the movements and miracles of Jesus and His disciples.  Could it be that their threats and attempts on His life have succeeding in scaring Jesus away?  The Jews would like to think so. 

            Jesus not only goes into seclusion for the purpose of giving the Jews space to repent. Jesus needs this time alone with His disciples to prepare them for His up coming passion.  Jesus must prepare them for the sorrow they will feel and reassure them that all will  be well and that their sorrow will be turned into joy. 

            Jesus has another reason for going into seclusion for a time.  He needs to prepare Himself for the horrible ordeal which He is about to endure.  Such is the intensity of what He is about to face that in the garden He will sweat as it were great drops of blood.  He will tell His disciples that He is sorrowful even unto death.  He will pray for the Father to let this cup pass from Him.  Jesus is God but He is also man.  He is well acquainted with grief and pain.  He needs time to prepare for what He is about to face.


II. Looking for Jesus to come back.

(John 11:55)  And the Jews' Passover was nigh at hand: and many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the Passover, to purify themselves.

            The feast of Passover was drawing nigh at hand.  There was a need for men and women to go to Jerusalem to prepare themselves for the Passover.  They needed to be purified.  This process is described in Numbers chapter nine and chapter nineteen.

            The Red Heifer offering was a picture of the work of the Messiah, the Christ.  The Red Heifer was to be without spot or blemish.  The Red Heifer represented the sinless perfection of Christ. The death of the Red Heifer outside the camp represented the suffering of the Christ outside of the city of Jerusalem.  The Red Heifer ashes mixed with water and applied to an unclean person made them clean.  The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all unrighteousness.

            The Lord expected His people to come into His presence for worship clean.  They were to take the worship of God seriously.  Today we as His children ought to come into His house of worship seriously.  We should dress in a special way.  We should behave ourselves reverently while in the House of the Lord.  Before arriving at the House of the Lord for worship we should seek His forgiveness for our sins.  We should put away from our minds the cares of this world and give to our God all of our heart, soul, and mind.  Our worship should be systematic and deliberate.  It should be decent and orderly.  Our God is Holy and we are to be Holy. 


III. Looking for Jesus in His house.

(John 11:56)  Then sought they for Jesus, and spake among themselves, as they stood in the temple, What think ye, that he will not come to the feast?

            Jesus had His whole life come to the feast for the Law required Him to do so.  He would have purified Himself according to the Law requirements.  Had someone who had touched a dead body touched Him He would be ceremonially unclean. Jesus surely had been in contact with the dead.  Being ceremonially unclean does not mean one has sinned. Jesus never sinned.  This verse begins with the word “Then.”  Jesus had set a pattern of arriving early for the feast.  This is why the sought for Him a full seven days before the feast.  Jesus would have come to purify himself according to the dictates of the law concerning the Passover.  Jesus would have to arrive at least four days before the feast in order to be cleansed in time for the feast.  A person who was unclean by reason of having been in contact with the dead were unclean for seven days.  On the third day a clean person had to sprinkle them with the water of cleansing which was made from the ashes of the Red Heifer.  They remained unclean until the evening of the seventh day.  In order to be clean by the Passover one would have to have the water of cleansing sprinkled upon them four days before Passover. As we shall see in the next chapter Jesus arrives in Bethany six days before the Passover.  This would allow two days before the deadline. 

            The Jewish leaders and the people that were looking for Jesus were gathered in the Temple being purified according to the Law and while they were waiting they were wondering if Jesus would show up for the feast or not.  They certainly would understand Him not coming due to the danger.  The last two times He was in Jerusalem they tried to kill Him. The disciples of Jesus had raised this concern when He wanted to return to Judea to raise Lazarus.  The threats of men will not keep Jesus from His appointed task.  Men have no power of Jesus.  Pilot thought he had power over Jesus but Jesus set him strait. The only power men have over Jesus is that which the Father allows.  Men have no power over the children of the Kingdom except that which God allows.


IV. Looking for Jesus through others.

(John 11:57)  Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a commandment, that, if any man knew where he were, he should shew [it], that they might take him.

            The Jews had given a commandment that if anyone saw Jesus they were to let them know immediately.  The consequences of not telling the whereabouts of Jesus were made clear.  If you did not tell them that you had seen Jesus you would be considered one of His followers and would be put out of the Synagogue.  Remember the parents of the man who was born blind and healed by Jesus were afraid of being put out of the Synagogue.  To be put out was to be ostracized from society.  No one would sell to you or buy from you. No one would allow their children to marry your children. It was a very serious threat.

            The amazing thing about this story is that they expected Jesus to sneak into town quietly.  They expected that He would try to hide from the authorities.  They expected that He would be afraid of them.  It is almost laughable to think that Almighty God would ever be afraid of puny, frail human beings.  We shall see that the exact opposite happens.  Jesus will come into town in a parade of people shouting “Hosanna” to the Son of David. He will ride an ass right up to the Temple and these same Jews will demand that He tell the people to stop their cries not knowing that if they stopped the rocks would cry out.

            We as the church of the Lord Jesus Christ have been given a great commission.  We are not to hide Jesus from the world.  We are to tell everyone about Jesus. We are to let everyone know that He alone can save sinful men from the wrath of God.  He alone can give to the repentant believer eternal life.  Let us not hide the Gospel message.  For if our Gospel be hid it is hidden from those who are lost.