Supernatural Power comes from a life of truth
But when His brothers had gone up to the feast, then He Himself also went up, not publicly, but as if, in secret. 11 So the Jews were seeking Him at the feast and were saying, “Where is He?” 12 There was much grumbling among the crowds concerning Him; some were saying, “He is a good man”; others were saying, “No, on the contrary, He leads the people astray.” 13 Yet no one was speaking openly of Him for fear of the Jews. But when it was now the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and began to teach. 15 The Jews then were astonished, saying, “How has this man become learned, having never been educated?” 16 So Jesus answered them and said, “My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me. 17 If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself. 18 He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him. 19 Did not Moses give you the Law, and yet none of you carries out the Law? Why do you seek to kill Me?” 20 The crowd answered, “ You have a demon! Who seeks to kill You?” 21 Jesus answered them, “I did one deed, and you all marvel. 22 For this reason Moses has given you circumcision (not because it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and on the Sabbath you circumcise a man. 23 If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath so that the Law of Moses will not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made an entire man well on the Sabbath? 24 Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment. John 7:10-24
It was the feast of the booth when three days have passed without anyone seeing Jesus. Then Jesus appeared and began teaching in the temple courts. His teachings were penetrating and life transforming. Unlike the Jews who teach to achieve their own agenda supposing that knowledge and commitment to temple sacrifices pave the way to abundant living, Jesus imparts truth and hope. Today’s passage teaches us the importance of differenting between religiosity and truth. A life lived out in truth will carry the power of the Spirit to change the world for good.
How has this man become learned, having never been educated? – As Jesus goes up into the temple to teach, His teachings are firmly founded in the word. In the same vein, they carry life transforming truths and the power to heal. There is just one problem: Jesus does not peddle the usual academic jargon and themes that permeate the Jewish teachings during that time. Although, the Jews are learned, but they carry no authority and power to regenerate lives. Whereas Jesus even though uneducated in the traditional Jewish school was the oracle of God bringing hope, truth and miraculous power to the people. It is not difficult to sense a hint of jealousy among the Jews towards Jesus.
In response to the Jews’ ridicule, Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me.” The purpose of His ministry is not to exalt Himself nor to build a church after His name, but to make known the truths and the will of the Father. Hence, those who desires to know the Father’s will, will recognize if the teachings are of God. Those who love God and endeavor to walk in God’s ways will resonate with His teachings.
He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory… – Now Jesus draws attention to the teacher: One who has selfish motives (seek his own glory) will speak to fulfill his own personal agenda. However, one who seeks to fulfill God’s will, will speak the truth. A person’s motive is key to determine the direction of his ministry. For one who seeks to do the Father’s will (seeking the glory of the One who sent Him…), the truth is in him possessing the nature and authority of God: He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.
Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment – Then, Jesus directs his attention to the Jews: “Did not Moses give you the Law, and yet none of you carries out the Law? Why do you seek to kill Me?” Jesus exposes the Jew’s murderous inclination that goes contrary to Moses’ law. Despite their vocal denial, Jesus recalls the incident at the pool of Bethesda where He healed a man crippled for 38 years (John 5). Ever since then, the Jews were trying to kill Him for violating the Sabbath law. The Jews were amazed by the fact that a man disabled for 38 years was completely healed, but their amazement was largely mixed with indignation because the healing work was performed on Sabbath day. Jesus argues that his action was entirely appropriate on Sabbath day; He cites the law of circumcision that requires every male in Israel to be circumcised on the 8th day of his birth. However, provision is made that if the day of circumcision falls on Sabbath day, the law of circumcision takes precedence over the Sabbath law; the child will be circumcised, Sabbath day or no Sabbath day. Jesus argues that if the removal of a small piece of tissue from one part of the body is allowed on Sabbath day, then it cannot be wrong to heal a man’s whole body on Sabbath day.
Jesus attempts to show the Jews their grave error in the handling of the law. In the practice of the law, the posture of the heart must first be made right. The heart must be subject under the lordship of God and His love. The law serves as guidelines through which we serve others. Without a heart that is indwelled by the truth and love of God, the observance of the law becomes hypocritical, stifling and destructive. Therefore, we must judge not according to one’s conformance to religious or worldly standards (appearance), which is so often mistook for true blessedness. But we must above all, deal with the posture of the heart (righteous judgment), which is the seat of life.
- A person’s religious knowledge, status or heritage does nothing to contribute to his blessedness. Most people would compare themselves with one another by their social status, achievements and wealth. However, what the world sees as valuable is diametrically opposed to God’s system of value. As the popular saying goes: Nice guys always finish last. Hence, it is the world’s view that a successful person must necessarily possess traits like viciousness, wit and savviness; being nice is unfortunately, a weakness. In the context of the church, pastors would compare their achievements like congregation size and popular acclaim with one another. Members would size up one another by their bible knowledge, leadership involvement and giftings etc.
The Jews assess Jesus by His social status, academic achievements and conformance to their legalistic standards of the law. How does Jesus assess people? Jesus had no regard for social status, ability, appearance or even biblical knowledge but only for the virtues and posture of the heart.
- The purpose of biblical knowledge is not to make us appear spiritually more superior but to regenerate our heart. If our hearts remain unchanged, biblical knowledge serves as a smoke screen. Biblical knowledge may infuse in us a sense of blessedness and empowerment, but unless it helps us regenerate to become more obedient and gracious towards others, it is nothing more than a farce. The maturity of a believer is measured by his virtues, obedience and faithfulness towards God and confidence in taking on tasks beyond his natural strength. The Jews assess Jesus by His presentation of religious knowledge and academic jargons, but Jesus is more concerned about His loyalty towards God and in walking in the truth. Therefore, we must seek out those who are virtuous and exalt them to positions of influence.
- We don’t have to package the truth in order to convince others of the truth. We only need to speak it clearly and let God regenerate them by His grace. Those who desire to do God’s will will hear the Spirit speaking to them. And they will respond to God out of reverence for Him because their hearts are convicted by the Spirit. On the flip side, those who don’t desire the truth will focus on material blessings and the cares of life. Hence, we don’t need to package our message in a way that is less offensive with added perks of material blessings. The Jews lure the people to the temple with false assurances of salvation without the need for repentance. They promise the people blessings in exchange for temple sacrifices and in fulfilling religious standards.
- A life of power comes through a life of truth. By speaking the truth in love, and living it out, we become the oracles of God. And God will endorse our message by the supernatural works of the Spirit. Jesus was not afraid to heal the crippled man of 38 years at the pool on Sabbath day. Sabbath day or no Sabbath day, the truth is that He comes to save the lost and heal the sick. Jesus did the right thing even though He knew that His life would be in danger. No wonder great power was entrusted to Jesus, because He cared more for the truth than for His own life. Therefore believers must learn to yield our tongues to the Spirit to speak the truth and defend the helpless. At the right time, greater power and authority will be entrusted to us to do His work.
- What criteria do you use when it comes to spending time with friends? Do you pick those who are wealthy and powerful? Or do you prefer those who live out the truth of God? How you pick your friends tells a lot about the posture of your heart.
- Do you speak the truth and stand up for those who are disadvantaged? If you desire to operate with greater Spiritual power, you must learn to live out the truth despite your own inconveniences.
Dear Lord, help me look pass the values of the world and seek to please God and God alone. Bless me with favor as I put you first in everything I do. Entrust greater power and authority to me to do your will whenever I am ready. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.