“If anyone’s will is to do God’s will”
The Gospel of John is particularly soul stirring as we read it. We learn much detailed information about parts of the ministry of our Lord, filling some of the ‘gaps’ in the other gospels. We learn that the centre of opposition to Jesus was in Jerusalem and this began quite early, see chapter 5:1,18.
Today’s chapter 7 begins by telling us
“after this Jesus went about in Galilee. He would not go about in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill him.”
In Mark we are told how
“the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, ‘He is possessed by Beelzebul …’” (3:22).
So, because he spent much of his time in Galilee, the growing opposition went out to try to sow seeds of opposition to him there – and anywhere else he went.
Today we learn that Jesus returned to Jerusalem in the middle of the feast “and began teaching” and they “marvelled” at his teaching saying,
“How is it that this man has learning when he has never studied?” (verse 15).
“educated at the feet of Gamaliel according to the strict manner of the law” (Acts 22:3).
To this Jesus answers, “My teaching is not mine but his who sent me. If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am teaching on my own authority” (verses 16,17). How would they know? They would if they had studied their scriptures (the Old Testament) with a genuine searching mind.
We can make a comparison here with Christianity today where Churches have seminaries to train people for the ministry. Yet, in all our own contact with those so trained it becomes apparent that actual Bible reading forms only a minor part of their training: they are unfamiliar with many parts of it.
The end of today’s chapter shows that the Jewish leaders argued that
“no prophet arises from Galilee” (verse 52).
For this reason they rejected him and all that he taught and the miracles he did. But two of what we call ‘minor’ prophets, Nahum and Jonah, had come from that area – and in any case, to reason that God’s prophets had to come from particular places was human thinking.
Today, just as much as in those days, if we are really serious about knowing God and the real truth about “God’s will”, we must read His word regularly and act upon what we read – after we have digested it carefully to make sure we have a correct understanding.
May we aim to be able to say with David,
“I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation” (Psalm 119:99).