John 7:10-24 Divine wisdom and authority come first-hand from God, not from institutionalised traditions
John 7:10-24 Divine wisdom and authority come first-hand from God, not from institutionalised traditions
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.
14 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.
Jesus, upon receiving the Father’s directives went up to the feast and preached to the people. All who were present were impressed by the level of wisdom and authority that Jesus displayed in His teachings. Jesus’s teachings were derived first-hand from the Father. For He preached out of a victorious and sanctified life. Today’s devotion teaches us: Divine wisdom and authority come first-hand from God, not from institutionalised traditions.
But when His brothers had gone up to the feast, then He Himself also went up, not publicly, but as if, in secret.
Jesus had earlier made known to His brothers that He will not be going up to the feast. His reason being that it was not time for Him to do so (see John 7:6). However, having received the go ahead from God sometime later, He went up, not publicly, but as if, in secret. In so doing, He might not be hindered by His persecutors. For the Jews were looking for Him in order to apprehend Him. There were diverse opinions among the people as to who Jesus is. But because of the Jews’ aversion to Jesus, they did not want Him to be publicly discussed lest He was made to be a more important figure than desired.
But when it was now the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and began to teach.
Jesus’s sudden change of mind showed His steely trust in the Father’s directives. He was to preach at the feast after all. But only to create even more division among the people (see John 7:43). For Jesus’s teachings were perceived by the Jews as learned even though He had never been educated by their mainstream institutions. Matthew 7:29 describes Jesus as one having authority, and not as their scribes. However, the Jews were dumbfounded by that which came forth from Jesus’s mouth that convicted all of sin. By His words, He blatantly exposed the hypocrisies of the Jews inviting their ire.
So Jesus answered them and said, “My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me.
Jesus was quick to point to God, who is the source of all His teachings. However, Jesus had this to say to those who doubted His teachings, “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.” Thus, the ability to discern truth and falsity is not derived from “learnedness” but rather from one’s faith. And faith is a fundamental desire and commitment to do the Father’s will. In other words, those who are determined to obey God will recognise His words as coming directly from God. In the same breath, Jesus exposed the Jews as acting out of their selfish agenda (seeks his own glory) instead of God’s agenda. For such, there is no truth and righteousness in them. To glorify oneself is to gratify one’s selfish motives, whereas to glorify God is to accomplish God’s will for the good of all.
“Did not Moses give you the Law, and yet none of you carries out the Law? Why do you seek to kill Me?”
Jesus directed 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 exposed the Jew’s murderous inclinations that transgressed Moses’s law. Despite their denial, Jesus recalled the incident at the pool of Bethesda where He healed a man crippled for 38 years (John 5). Ever since then, the Jews were set on killing Him because He violated 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 put forth two arguments that his actions were entirely appropriate on Sabbath day.
Firstly, Jewish traditions demand that the work of circumcision take precedence over the Sabbath rest. Jesus cited the law of circumcision that requires every male in Israel to be circumcised on the 8th day of his birth. However, should the day of circumcision (8 days from birth) falls on Sabbath day, the law of circumcision takes precedence over the Sabbath law. And the child will be circumcised, Sabbath day or no Sabbath day.
Secondly, the mark of circumcision points to the fulfilment of Abrahamic covenant, which is the blessing of God. God said to Abraham,
This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised. – Genesis 17:10
In the same breath, Jesus interpreted Sabbath law by pointing to Himself as the fulfilment of the Sabbath (Lord of the Sabbath), who comes to heal and to save (see Matthew 12:8-13). Thus, with both laws (of circumcision and Sabbath) pointing to the promise of rest, healing and salvation, it makes perfect sense to heal the sick on Sabbath day.
“… Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”
To judge is to implement and to shepherd. Jesus showed the Jews their grave error in the implementation of the law. For the Jews were accustomed to judging according to appearance instead of righteousness. The purpose of the law is to regenerate the people’s hearts towards divine love and wisdom. But the Jews have used the law to constrain the people’s behaviour without sanctifying their hearts towards righteousness. According to appearance, the Jews made the Sabbath day a day where all forms of work were banned. According to the righteousness of Christ, the Sabbath was meant as a day of healing and regeneration for all.
To walk in God’s will is to be at the right place, at the right time while doing the right things.
One who walks in the centre of God’s will enjoy safety and divine providence no matter where he goes because God guides his footsteps. The psalmist says,
The Lord directs the steps of the godly.
He delights in every detail of their lives.
Though they stumble, they will never fall,
for the Lord holds them by the hand. – Psalm 37:23-24
However, to walk in God’s will, one not only has to be rightly motivated, but he also has to learn to keep still and wait on God. Jesus waited on God’s directives even though it is required by Jewish traditions to go up to the feast. He submitted to God for what seemed like the most obvious of decisions: to go to the feast and preach to the masses. Jesus is not driven by traditions, by the needs of others, or by the need to feel accomplished. He is motivated by love: to obey God’s every directive.
Many could not keep still as they busy themselves with waves of ministry tasks and inconsequential activities. They were motivated by their anxieties and their need for significance. By going to many places and doing many things, they want to be seen as industrious and accomplished. Because they cannot hear God’s voice, they are compelled to keep themselves useful. To them, doing something is better than doing nothing at all. However, their constant moving makes it nearly impossible for God to direct them to the right path.
Until we stop running and come to the place of divine rest (Sabbath rest), we remain subject to this unpredictable and perilous world. Indeed, it is a fearful thing to live outside of God’s providence and protection. At a time when Israel faced possible annihilation, the prophet Isaiah called them to rest in God’s promises. But they would not…
This is what the Sovereign Lord,
the Holy One of Israel, says:
“Only in returning to me
and resting in me will you be saved.
In quietness and confidence is your strength.
But you would have none of it.
You said, ‘No, we will get our help from Egypt.
They will give us swift horses for riding into battle.’
But the only swiftness you are going to see
is the swiftness of your enemies chasing you!
One of them will chase a thousand of you.
Five of them will make all of you flee.
You will be left like a lonely flagpole on a hill
or a tattered banner on a distant mountaintop.” – Isaiah 30:15-17
When we meditate on the word while being attentive to God’s gestures of love towards us, we become sensitised to His voice and directives.
Divine wisdom and authority come first-hand from God, not from institutionalised traditions.
Notwithstanding the Jews’ bewilderment in regards to Jesus’s teachings, they did not find it within them to acknowledge Jesus’s divinity. Jesus, despite being uneducated, the “highly learned” Jews were unable to refute Him. For Jesus taught with great wisdom and authority followed by miraculous signs. Jesus’s teachings in fact received first-hand revelations from the Father (My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me.) Whereas the Jews taught from institutionalised traditions, a rendering of hand-me-down doctrines.
Jesus’s teachings differ from that of the Jews in the following:
- Jesus speaks life, regenerating the heart towards godliness. But the Jews speak to assure people of salvation through conformance to a set of rules and doctrine.
- Jesus saves sinners by breaking the curse of sin and casting out demons. The Jews condemn those who are entrapped by sin and evil spirits as having no faith.
- Jesus teaches about life in the kingdom and how to live as sons of God. The Jews teach about the their rightful inheritance as children of Abraham. And how by observing and believing in Moses’s law, they may be saved.
- Jesus teaches from a victorious and sanctified life. The Jews teach from a life of hypocrisy.
- Jesus lifts believers heaven-ward causing them to experience the things of heaven and the fellowship with angels. The Jews teach religious philosophy that cannot help believers transcend their earthly circumstances.
For ministers and leaders to be effective, they must be taught first-hand by God Himself. Bible teachers can help lay the initial foundation by explaining scripture to us in its proper context. But only the words of the Spirit can convict our hearts giving rise to faith, divine wisdom and authority. Therefore, it is essential that believers spend the same amount of time studying the bible, and connecting with God who enlightens us.
We should not have to package the truth in order to bring others to Christ.
One who surrenders himself to God’s agenda speaks plainly about God’s truth and His ways. However, many will not commit to the manner that Jesus preached because His messages are hugely unpopular. Thus, they resort to packaging the truth while supplementing it with miraculous signs to entice the crowds. The Jews lured people to the temple with false assurances of salvation without the need for repentance. They promised people blessings in exchange for temple sacrifices and in fulfilling religious obligations. Thus, what they gain in popularity, they lose in divine favour and authority.
How then should we evangelise the world? We only need to speak the gospel message clearly and let God convict them by His grace. Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God,
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” – Mark 1:15
Those who desire to obey God will certainly hear Jesus speaking to them. And they respond to Him out of reverence because their hearts are repentant. On the flip side, those who do not desire the truth will focus on material blessings. And no amount of signs and incentives can turn their hearts towards God in repentance. Jesus said to those who did not believe Him,
But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish. – John 10:26-28
Indeed, those who belong to Christ will hear the message of truth and repent. But those who are not His sheep will need a lure, an incentive to come to Him.
Are you accustomed to filling up your waking hours with programmes and activities? Set aside 30 mins each day to connect with God allowing Him to speak into your thoughts. It usually begins with a slight and fuzzy notion which gradually becomes concrete. Allow ample time for the Spirit’s thoughts to seed and mature. The Spirits thoughts may lead to an action plan, or it could shed light regarding a verse you have recently read or it could alleviate your fears and anxieties.
Are you accustomed to preaching the gospel by touting blessings and salvation? Examine the life of Jesus and learn to preach the gospel message as Jesus preached. A true believer is one who repents not out of fear or for the sake of blessing, but out of love for the truth and reverence for God.
Dear Lord, open my heart’s eye to see and understand you. Sensitise me to your voice so that I may hear and do your will. Help me to preach the gospel clearly and truthfully so that I may be an effective instrument of salvation. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.