It can be hard to know what is true and what is false at times. The truth is challenged all the time. I work with teenagers and there are so many things that come up with them. Sometimes it involves rebellion on their part and other times it involves some sort of drama that they are involved in. In either case there is the truth and then there are lies. Some days it is incredibly challenging to tell them apart.
Part of life as a believer in Christ is living in line with truth and knowing what is truth and what isn’t. The truth will always be challenged, but the truth always wins. You know what is really interesting is that Jesus in John 7 was challenged as He proclaims truth, but he also exposes truth in His response. We are also challenged as we live for Him.
The story (John 7) takes place during the feast of tabernacles, which is a celebration of the harvest as well as a time they remember their time of wandering in the wilderness. This feast is more than one day, it involves convocations, different celebrations and offerings. It would have been a large gathering. So, Jesus does not go right away, but He waits until halfway, when the biggest crowd would be there. There are a few ways Jesus is challenged here.
His Credentials: What gives you the right to teach?
This question comes down to authority. Who has given you, Jesus, authority to teach when you haven’t had the proper training under a Rabbi. In their culture, in order to be a teacher, you needed to receive training under a mentor, a Rabbi. Jesus had not had this training and yet there He was teaching.
In Jesus’ case here, the crowd may have been amazed but they were also somewhat anxious about this. Jesus is taking a place of authority without seemingly being trained to do it.
Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me. – John 7:16
So, while the Rabbis get their authority by being faithful to teachers of the law and then being blessed for the task, Jesus received His authority by being faithful to the original law giver Himself. Jesus’ message is different because it comes for a legit source, God. But, if your heart is not open to it, you will miss it.
If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him. – John 7:17-18
If anyone wills (wants, desires) to do the will of God, then and only then will that person be able to know the divine authority of Jesus Christ, that His teaching is in fact God’s. It has to do with the heart. If your heart is against God, it doesn’t matter how much evidence there is, you will not live in that truth. So, there needs to be a desire for your life to be shaped by Jesus in order to know and recognize Him.
Why listen to Jesus? Well, look at what He is about. Experience who He is. He is not self-seeking, but working for the honor of the One who sent Him. When you do, you will soon realize what He is about is the will of the Father and not promotion of man. The reality is that when Jesus makes this claim of coming from the Father, it actually incites two very different reactions; people draw near and others push Him away. This is no different today when people are confronted with the truth.
His Mind – What are you crazy?
Jesus takes the opportunity before him to challenge the people. There was a group of people who were rather irritated with Jesus because of some healing He had done on the Sabbath. Sabbath literally means to cease or abstain. On the Sabbath, the rule was to cease from normal labor and rest giving that day to the Lord. If you were found to have violated the Sabbath, you would be excommunicated or even put to death. This was a day that was set apart for rest, renewal and worship, but soon became filled with rules and things that must be done as a part of the Sabbath. Therefore, the Sabbath got all confusing for people.
Jesus tries to remind the people who the Sabbath is was never intended to rule over the people. The Sabbath was created as a way to help the people, not hinder them.
Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?” – John 7:19
So, Jesus now tries to point out to them a double standard that they have. The Jews have made a claim that Jesus does not keep the law because He healed someone on the Sabbath. You want to kill me for some supposedly horrific event, but what about all the laws you are breaking?
“You are demon-possessed,” the crowd answered. “Who is trying to kill you?” John 7:20
You are crazy. You must have been possessed by a demon. Jesus, what are you talking about? No one is trying to kill you. No one is claiming this. Well, not true. This is often the response Christians get today also. When you make a choice not to do something that would not please God, this is the same response given. Come on, lighten up. Live a little.
We will wrap this up tomorrow with a few applications and the final way Jesus was challenged. In the mean time, maybe we could list a few ways you have experienced these in your own life. Have you ever been questioned on your beliefs or why you believe what you believe? Share you story. I would love to hear from you.