Scripture reading – John 7-8
Today’s Scripture reading is a pivotal moment in our study of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. John 7 and John 8 indicate a change in Christ’s relationship with the religious rulers of His day. They had plotted in secret to arrest Him, and would have killed Him if the opportunity had presented itself. Jesus, however, knowing the hearts of men, “would not walk in Jewry [Judaea]” (7:1) and took care to not fall prematurely into the hands of His enemies, mindful that His “time [was] not yet come” (7:6).
“His brethren” (half-brothers of Jesus, who were sons born of Joseph and Mary), bid Him to go up to the Feast of Tabernacles (7:2-3). They challenged Jesus, “there is no man that doeth any thing in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly (7:4a). The apostle John would later reflect, “For neither did his brethren believe in him” (7:5).
Jesus refused the invitation of His brothers saying, “8Go ye up unto this feast [Feast of the Tabernacles]: I go not up yet unto this feast; for my time is not yet full come” (7:7-8).
The “Jews,” meaning the religious rulers and leaders, were awaiting Jesus’ attendance at the Feast of the Tabernacles and began to question, “Where is He?” (7:9-11). The people too, anticipated Jesus would be present at the feast, and there was a contentious debate that arose among them: “Some said, He is a good man [loving; caring; compassionate]: others said, Nay; but he deceiveth [leads astray] the people [i.e. with His doctrine]” (7:12).
Now Jesus followed His brethren covertly to Jerusalem, until He revealed His presence in the Temple where He began to teach (7:14).
The Jewish leaders, knowing Jesus lacked a formal rabbinic education, were stunned by His insight and understanding of the Scriptures and “marveled [at His teachings], saying, How knoweth this man letters [meaning an understanding of the Law and Commandments], having never learned [lacking academic credentials]?” (7:15)
John 7:16-18 – 16Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine [teaching; instruction] is not mine, but his [God the Father] that sent me. 17If any man will do his will [the will of God], he shall know of the doctrine [teaching; instruction], whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.18He that speaketh [reasons] of himself [speaks of himself and not the One who sent him] seeketh his own glory [seeks his own fame; boasts of himself; seeks the favor of others]: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him [giving glory and honor and praise to God and not seeking his own following], the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him.
There are several insights, spiritual truths, and principles we can derive from Jesus’ response to His enemies (John 7:1-18).
For instance, Jesus knew His enemies and was cautious to not fall into the trap they would have set for Him. Knowing even His brethren were not believers, and had rejected Him, Jesus refused to allow the taunts of His family to provoke Him (7:3-8).
A second lesson gives us cause to examine the words, doctrine, and example of the men and women whose teachings and writings we follow (7:16-18). Social media and internet blogs have given platforms and influence to men and women who profess to be bearers of God’s Word, but whose doctrine is not the Truth.
What should a discerning believer look for in the writings and teachings of a teacher or preacher?
1) Whose doctrine are they teaching?
Jesus said, “My doctrine [teaching; instruction] is not mine, but his [God the Father] that sent me” (7:16b). Jesus came to be God the Father’s Ambassador and His works and teachings were faithful and true to the One Who sent Him. Jesus said, “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me” (John 6:38).
Believer, be careful of teachers who take a seed of “truth,” and wrap around it their own reasoning and logic. Beware the teacher who takes a verse, proceeds to spin a web of personal opinions and human reasoning, without context and supporting Scriptural texts.
2) Whose glory are they seeking? What is their motive?
Jesus warned, “18He that speaketh [reasons] of himself [speaks of himself and not the One who sent him] seeketh his own glory [seeks his own fame; boasts of himself; seeks the favor of others]” (7:18a). Christ taught the Truth and performed miracles, not for His glory, but to glorify God the Father. Jesus prayed to God, “I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do” (John 17:4).
False teachers are “glory-seekers.” They are interested in self-promotion, and seek a following that advances themselves, even at the sacrifice of others. They seek their own glory, and not that of Christ and His Church.
Whose glory are you seeking?
Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith