John 7: 14 – 24 Jesus teaches at the Festival of Tabernacles
Not until halfway through the festival did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach. The Jews there were amazed and asked, ‘How did this man get such learning without being taught?’
In first century Judah, literacy was low. Probably fewer than 3% of men (and very few women indeed) could read and write. If a boy wanted formal schooling, he would become a disciple of a rabbi. This paragraph implies that Jesus’ listeners did not know which rabbi had taught Jesus. Their question was essentially, “From which rabbi does this teaching come?” with its implication, “What is your authority for teaching this?”
Jesus answered, ‘My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me. Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.
This is one way we can judge the truth of Jesus’ teaching; we are to choose to do the will of God – and the will of God is to believe in Jesus with all that entails. When we choose to do the will of God, we find that Jesus’ teaching is true.
Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.
Jesus makes the further point that he is not seeking personal glory, but the glory of the one who sent him. This, too, testifies to his truthfulness.
Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?’
Sensing the hostility of some of the crowd, Jesus accuses them of being law-breakers, and of wanting to kill him. St John wants us to understand that Jesus was in real danger whenever he preached in Judea. We are being told that Jesus’ life and ministry was threatened throughout by those who opposed his message. The crucifixion wasn’t an isolated instance of hatred by the authorities; it was the culmination of a campaign of persecution over years.
‘You are demon-possessed,’ the crowd answered. ‘Who is trying to kill you?’
I’m sure that not everyone in the crowd wanted to see Jesus dead. And I’m equally sure that those who wanted him dead would have concealed that from all except people who felt the same way. So they pour scorn on Jesus claim, even as hatred gnaws at their hearts.
Jesus said to them, ‘I did one miracle, and you are all amazed. Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the Patriarchs), you circumcise a boy on the Sabbath. Now if a boy can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing a man’s whole body on the Sabbath? Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.’
Now Jesus turns their own failure to observe the Law against them. He points out that the covenant made between God and Abraham required them to circumcise a male child on the eighth day after birth (Genesis 17: 1 – 14, especially verse 12). Of course, this meant that a boy born on the day before a Sabbath would be circumcised the following Sabbath, on the eighth day after his birth. The Jews did this, and broke the Sabbath. If that is permissible, Jesus asks, then why are they angry with him for healing a man’s whole body on the Sabbath?
Something that struck me as I read this passage was the way that Jesus describes himself as separate and distinct from the Father.
Jesus answered, ‘My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me. (Verse 16)
He who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth (Verse 18)
In the following passages Jesus make the same distinction.
John 5: 17 – 23
In his defence Jesus said to them, ‘My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.’
For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
Jesus gave them this answer: ‘Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does.
Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it.
Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honour the Son just as they honour the Father. Whoever does not honour the Son does not honour the Father, who sent him.
John 5: 36 – 37
‘I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to finish – the very works that I am doing – testify that the Father has sent me. And the Father who sent me has testified concerning me.
John 5: 43
I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me
John 3: 31 – 36
The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no-one accepts his testimony. Whoever has accepted it has certified that God is truthful. For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit. The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.
I know in my mind there is confusion over the doctrine of the Trinity. Today’s passage has opened my eyes to these statements made by Jesus about who he is. They make me realise that I want to know more about who he is so that I can grow closer to him.
Heavenly Father, I know very little about Jesus, and I would like to know more. Please open my eyes and my heart so that I may know him better. In Jesus name, Amen.