Teaching from Above

Opening Prayer

God, give me the faith to believe the words of Your truth over the words of the world around us.

Read John 7:14–24

14 Not until halfway through the festival did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach. 15 The Jews there were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having been taught?”

16 Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me. 17 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. 18 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. 19 Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?”

20 “You are demon-possessed,” the crowd answered. “Who is trying to kill you?”

21 Jesus said to them, “I did one miracle, and you are all amazed. 22 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. 23 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? 24 Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.”

Reflect

How might an emphasis on conformity over relationship impact a church’s health?

Last year’s 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death reawakened speculation about how a country boy who had left school at 14 could make such an unparalleled contribution to world culture. People said the same sort of thing about Jesus (15).

Shakespeare’s genius was a talent within him that he developed by discipline. Jesus’ teaching ability comes from listening to and living in closer relationship with his Father (15,16). He’s not a religious elite but his teaching surpasses the most learned rabbi in its freshness and authority. Rather than driving rules, he invites all to encounter God for themselves (17). If “The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming” (Heb. 10:1), Jesus, the Living Word, is the reality. What good things are you experiencing from God’s grace?

Power-loving leaders commit idolatry and hypocrisy (18,19,23). Controlling church leaders can’t release people into intimacy with God or one another because God’s way is freedom, not obligation. How can we safeguard against undue control in our fellowships? Spirit-led discernment, familiarity with the Word and authentic and accountable relationships will help. And let’s start by questioning ourselves: “Am I seeking the glory of Jesus who sends me?” (18).

Apply

To whom are you listening? Are you listening to the truth of Jesus or cleverly disguised worldly wisdom? Think about it.

Closing prayer

Lord Jesus, help me to resist seeking approval, seeking instead to share a deep love with You in Your glorious truth and freedom.

Syndicated via Scripture Union. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Terry Schneider