The expression, "The Changing of The Guard," usually

refers to the changing of one military guard for another.

That is, one man, who was on duty, goes off duty and is

replaced by another man who takes over his post of duty.

Some military units make a very impressive ceremony out of

the changing of the guard.  When I went to Maryland to visit

with the mission which our church sponsored I had

an opportunity to witness the changing of the guard at

Arlington National Cemetery.  I must say that it was a very

impressive event.  If you ever go that direction, I

recommend that you see it.

    The guards that I will be talking about in this message

are the temple guards at Jerusalem who had been given orders

to arrest Jesus.  I will not be talking to you about

changing the post of duty.  I will not be talking about one

guard going off duty and another guard taking his place.  I

want you to notice the change that took place in those



I.  The duty which was assigned to the guards as the time

    for the Feast of Tabernacles approached


    V. 45, "Then came the officers to the chief priests and

Pharisees...,"  Perhaps you will recall that as the time

drew near for the observance of the Feast of Tabernacles at

Jerusalem, the Jewish leaders quietly put out the word that

when Jesus arrived on the scene, that He should be arrested

and brought to them.  It would, of course, be the duty of

the temple guards to make the arrest.  All temple guards

were put on the alert and ordered to make the arrest while

Jesus was on the outskirts of the city before Jesus got into

the great crowds of people.


II.  The duty which was assigned to the guards after Jesus

     spoke in the temple courtyard


    Perhaps you will recall that Jesus did not show up for

the first day of this feast.  He did not show up until about

the middle of the week, but when He did show up He really

got everybody's attention.  He showed up right in the middle

of a large crowd of people within the temple courtyard.  He

was already in the crowd before anybody knew He was any

where nearby.  Since the crowd was chiefly made of up of

people with whom Jesus was very popular, the Jewish leaders

made no effort to arrest Him nor even to stop Him from

speaking to the crowd.

    However, as Jesus spoke to the crowds an increasing

number of the people began to say that Jesus is the Christ

and that disturbed the Jewish leaders.  Also, because their

lack of effort to stop Jesus from speaking to the crowds

caused some of the common people to think that the leaders

now favored Jesus and that disturbed the leaders.  So,

therefore, the Jewish religious leaders decided to arrest

Jesus even though He was in a crowd.  So they ordered the

temple guards to arrest Him.

    The temple guards marched into that great crowd of

people and took their positions around Jesus, but they did

not lay a finger on Him.  The vast majority in that huge

crowd of people were so enthralled, so spellbound by the

speech that Jesus was making that those guards, even though

they were armed, did not dare to lay a finger on Him.


III.  The duty which the guards maintained throughout the

      remainder of the feast days


    That was about the middle of the week.  It is to be

presumed that the temple guards came right back and took up

their positions around Him each day thereafter during the

remaining days of the feast.  The Jewish leaders would

naturally think that the guards were simply awaiting an

opportunity to arrest Him with the least amount of danger to

themselves from the crowds.

    I said that it is to be presumed that they came back

each day and took up their positions around Him.  Actually

John does not give a day by day account of the events.  The

next event that John tells us about took place on the last

day of the feast.  That was the last day in which the priest

would dip water from the Spring of Siloam.  But it is to be

presumed that each day in between Jesus showed up within the

temple courtyards and that He spoke to the crowds of people

each day.  It is likewise to be presumed that the temple

guards still took their places around Jesus each day, just

as if they are anxious to arrest Him and are still waiting

for an opportune moment to do so.

    Even on that final day of the feast it is to be presumed

that the temple guards were in their position around Jesus

when the water was lifted from the Spring of Siloam and when

Jesus cried out with a loud voice saying, "If any man

thirst, let him come unto me.  He that believeth on me, as

the scripture saith, out of his belly shall flow rivers of

living water."  Even then, those guards were right there

around Him.


IV.  The temple guards reporting in after the feast is over


    But in our text today the feast is over, the crowds have

begun to break up, and the Jewish leaders have gathered for

one last meeting before returning to their own homes.  They

have all been staying in booths or temporary tabernacles for

a week.  They have spent the entire week trying to arrest

Jesus and now even He is gone and they have not been

successful.  They have called this meeting to try to find

out what went wrong.

    The temple guards who had been ordered to arrest Jesus

were called in.  (V.  45), "...and they said unto them, Why

have ye not brought him?"  The leaders asked the temple

guards, "Why have you not arrested Jesus and brought Him a

prisoner to us?"

    I really do not think it would have surprised the Jewish

leaders if the guards had said, "Well, frankly, we were just

afraid to arrest Him.  We were there every day around Him

and the way those people were carrying on about Him we were

just afraid to arrest Him.  We just did not have a chance at

all to arrest Him.  If we had attempted to arrest Him, we

could never have gotten Him out of that crowd.  There were

just too many people.  We kept thinking that we would be

able to follow Him in the evening when He would leave the

temple grounds, but in that great crowd of people it was

just impossible.  Too many people kept pushing in around us

trying to get to Him.  They got between us and Him and made

it impossible for us to follow Him.  And we had no idea

where He went to spend the night."  I think that this or

something like this was what the leaders expected.

    However, they were not at all prepared for the answer

they did get from the guards.  V. 46, "The officers

answered, Never man spake like this man."  Those temple

guards did not offer one single excuse for not arresting

Him.  Instead, they raved about what great speeches Jesus

made.  "We've never heard a man speak like this.   Boy! We

have heard some great speakers in our time.  We have heard

the top speakers of the Sanhedrin.  We have heard the most

famous of the rabbis from all parts of the land.  But

listen, nobody we have ever heard could hold a candle to

this man.  Nobody we have ever heard comes even near Him as

a speaker."

    That, in effect, was what the Jewish leaders got out of

the temple guard.  It seems now as if these frustrated

leaders of the Sanhedrin Council are at their wits end.  V.

47, "Then answered them the Pharisees, Are ye also

deceived?"  The first response that the Jewish leaders had

to the temple guards was to ask them if they, too, had been

deceived by Jesus.  If these guards had begun to think that

Jesus, indeed, might be the Christ, they had just been

deceived according to their thinking.  Even if they had just

begun to think of Jesus as just a prophet of God, they were

still just deceived according to their thinking.  If they

were favorable toward Jesus in any respect, they were just

deceived according to their thinking.


V.  An interesting question of our own


    But this brings up an interesting question in our own

minds:  Had any of those guards believed on Jesus as the

Christ and been saved?  I think that this is more than just

a possibility.  I think that is very likely that several of

them had been saved during that time which they spent

listening to Jesus.  I hope every one of them got saved.  I

am not at all certain that any of them got saved, but I do

know that a definite change has taken place in all of them.

    There is an altogether new attitude toward Jesus.  At

first they did not arrest Jesus because they were afraid to

arrest Him.  It would have been too dangerous to arrest Him.

That danger never decreased as the days went by, but they

never used that danger as an excuse.  Rather, they just

raved about what a great speaker He was.

    They knew that the Jewish leaders, who were their

bosses, hated Jesus and wanted to see Him dead, but they

still spoke up to them and bragged on Jesus to them.  They

could have just said, "We were afraid for our own lives if

we had tried to arrest Him" and that would have ended the

matter, but they said, "Oh, what a great speaker He is!"  I

really wonder if they were not trying to influence the

thinking of their bosses and trying to get them to let up on

Jesus a little bit.

    I definitely think that one or more of these men have

trusted Jesus as the Christ and been saved.  I am sure that

they must have been greatly impressed with Jesus from the

very first speech that they heard.  I am sure that each day,

they must have been more and more impressed with Him as they

heard Him speak each day.  But, in my thinking, they must

have been most deeply impressed on that last day of the

feast, when the priest lifted the waters from the Spring of

Siloam and Jesus Cried out and invited all men to come to

Him and drink.  He asked simply that they believe on Him and

He promised them living waters if they would believe on Him.

    I think that one of these days I will get to meet some

or maybe all of those fellows in heaven.  As I said, I am

not certain right now whether any of them got saved or not,

but I do know that a great change took place in them and I

would like to think that the change which took place was

salvation.  If they did get saved, I would like to talk to

them about it in the hereafter and find out at just what

point they trusted in Jesus and got saved.


VI.  What the power of the gospel message depends on


    But let me tell you something marvelous about the

gospel.  The power of the gospel message does not depend on

the speaking ability of the speaker.  I truly believe what

those men said about Jesus.  They said, "Never a man spake

like this man."  I believe that.  As great a speaker as John

the Baptist must have been, John was no match for Jesus.  As

great as other gospel preachers may have been during the

years, they were no match for Jesus.  A few generations ago

Charles Spurgeon, over in England, gained a reputation as

being one of the greatest gospel preachers of all time.  A

little later here in America  Billy Sunday gained that same

kind of reputation.  Here in America in our present day

Billy Graham has gained that same kind of reputation.  But

the power of the gospel is not dependent on the speaking

ability of the gospel preacher.

    The power of the gospel is dependent on the blood of

Jesus Christ to make an atonement for the sins of the person

who believes the gospel message and upon the power of the

Lord Jesus Christ to save the soul.  It would be great if we

had Billy Graham or Billy Sunday or Charles Spurgeon to

preach the gospel for us.  What would be even better would

be for us to have the greatest of all preachers and that is

the Lord Jesus Christ.  Wouldn't it be great if we could

have Jesus here to preach for us this Sunday morning and

every Sunday morning.  But the power of the gospel is not

dependent on the skill of the preacher.  It is not even

dependent on who the preacher is.  If an unsaved person will

repent of his sins and trust in Jesus Christ to save his

soul, the power of the gospel will immediately do its work.

 Let me put it another way.  If anyone will trust in Jesus,

the power of he Lord will immediately to its work.  If some

lost sinner in this congregation this morning will trust in

Jesus Christ, he will be saved.  Jesus will save his soul.




    If there is somebody here this morning who is not saved

wants to be saved then I am going to ask you to come and to

place your faith in Jesus this morning.  Come and trust in

Jesus for the salvation of your soul.  Who will come?

    I am also going to ask that if there is some saved

person here this morning who wishes to serve the Lord and

you feel that it would be the Lord's will for you to unite

with this church, then I am asking that you come today and

present yourself for membership.