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317. Walking in the Word, Jesus Teaches in the Temple

By julie

At the Festival of the Tabernacles, Jesus teaches in the temple. His message is surprising, convicting, meaningful, infuriating to some, but most of all, life-giving. Will you listen with an open mind and an open heart, seeking God’s wisdom for the path He has for you today? (John 7:14-31)

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Welcome to Walking in the Word – the biblical teaching arm of the Women World Leaders’ Podcast. My name is Julie Jenkins, and I am honored to walk with you as we open God’s Word and ask Him to teach us what He wants us to know today.

In today’s passage, I believe that God is issuing a charge to each of us. There is SO much unfolding in our world and I believe this message to us is urgent and necessary. I also believe that He is bringing YOU this message at the exact moment that you need to hear it. So strap in – because we are diving right in!

Our scripture today comes from John 7:14-31. Before we begin, let’s pray.

Dear Most Holy God. Thank you for guiding us today as we study your Word. God, we know that each time we open your Scripture, there is something specific that you want us each to know – and we don’t want to miss it! So Father, we ask that you cleanse of our sins that we may be clean vessels, ready to hear directly from you. God, may the words that come out of my mouth not be my words, but may they come directly from you. As we gather today, we all have different things going on in our lives, but you know each of them, your care for us is astounding, and we trust you. So we give you this time and ask that you do with it as you will. We love you and we trust you. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

 

As we join Jesus today in John chapter 7, He is in Judea at the Festival of the Tabernacles. You may recall that Jesus has been there in “secret” as it was not yet time, in God’s perfect timing, for Jesus to make known His presence. That didn’t keep people from talking about Jesus, however. He had quite the reputation. And, like the news we see on our phones and on television today, the news that people knew about Jesus was likely not the whole story – instead, MOST of the Jewish people relied on what they heard from others instead of seeking to experience and understand the truth.

But now, as John records, the time came for more people to get that opportunity to experience Jesus for themselves and draw their own conclusions as to His identity.

John 7:14 from the New Living Translation states..  

14 Then, midway through the festival, Jesus went up to the Temple and began to teach. 15 The people[a] were surprised when they heard him. “How does he know so much when he hasn’t been trained?” they asked.

I love that phrase, “the people were surprised when they heard him.” – Again, the verses before this clearly tell us that Jesus was the buzz around town. Everyone had an opinion. And yet…when they listened for themselves to Jesus, they were surprised. They wondered how He knew so much – this man who had not followed a Rabbi or been taught by one. For many, this was their first contact with the man about whom the rumors had flown.

When we hear rumors, do we go to the source? Do we check out things for ourselves – seeking the truth – before we make a judgment?

The people were surprised by Jesus, but Jesus was not surprised by the people. Verse 16…

 

 

16 So Jesus told them, “My message is not my own; it comes from God who sent me. 17 Anyone who wants to do the will of God will know whether my teaching is from God or is merely my own. 

Wow…there is so much in these few sentences!

In a time of memorization and regurgitation, teaching, and especially scriptural teaching, was handed down word for word from the teacher to the student. Until the student became the teacher. But as time went by, God’s Word, passed on from flawed human to flawed human, became warped. But THIS teaching, Jesus’ teaching, was different. And Jesus tells the crowd, that’s because HIS teaching, came directly from God Himself.

Today, we often hear people say, “I heard from God…” That hearing comes from the Holy Spirit who speaks directly to all of God’s children. But this was not the case before Jesus went to the cross. People could not, at that time, hear directly from God, as sin had created a barrier between God and His people.

In fact, the Old Testament is chock full of rituals that had to be followed to the T in order for the people to hear from God at all. And yet this man, Jesus, is professing that HIS Words are God’s Words – and that God, in fact, sent Him to speak the Words.

I imagine the murmurs…what did He say? This man is from God? How are we supposed to believe that?

Jesus answers the murmurs, whether they were spoken audibly or just thought in the hearts of the listeners – because Jesus can hear and will answer what is in our hearts – we just need to listen.

Anyone who wants to do the will of God will know whether my teaching is from God or is merely my own. 

I want you to notice the order of this sentence… We must determine to do the will of God before we get the answers we are craving.

There are many things that have changed since Jesus walked the earth, this is not one of them. God calls us to listen to Him in unbridled obedience before He imparts His understanding to us.

That is called faith. And it can be difficult.

Do you ever pray for wisdom from God? The Bible says we can, and we should, and when we do, God will lavish us with His wisdom. But, we have to resolve in our hearts that we WILL act in faith BEFORE we can experience God’s wisdom for our lives. Let me say that again…

We have to resolve in our hearts that we WILL act in faith BEFORE we can experience God’s wisdom for our lives.

Kimberly Hobbs started Women World Leaders 4 years ago on a word from God. And in God’s perfect timing, He continues to build this ministry step by step. I pursued my Masters of Biblical Exposition upon God’s call long before I knew what He intended me to do with it. Maybe you are seeking answers – should you start a family, begin that business, or make that move? Seek God’s wisdom, certainly. But seek it with a steadfast heart, poised and ready to be obedient to His call. If you are asking if it is time to start a family and you want God’s guidance, be ready to obey – whether that be to start a family the natural way, to adopt, foster, or wait on His timing. He will guide you – but only if you prepare yourself to be obedient no matter what He says!

Jesus continues in vs 18, giving concrete guidance of whom they should follow and listen to…

18 Those who speak for themselves want glory only for themselves, but a person who seeks to honor the one who sent him speaks truth, not lies. 19 Moses gave you the law, but none of you obeys it! In fact, you are trying to kill me.”

Have you ever played 20 questions? It’s a game where one person thinks of a person, place, or object and the other players try to guess what it is. The players ask 20 yes or no questions trying to narrow down the field. Is it a person? Is it a man? Is he living? The point is to listen carefully to the clues and thoughtfully consider the answer.

Jesus teaches the crowd that if we want to know if someone is speaking the truth, we should ask questions and consider the answers. And the first questions should be – Is the speaker looking for his or her own glory? Is the speaker seeking to honor God? Jesus doesn’t tell the listeners to put their stock in Him or the Pharisees, but instead, Jesus asks them to discern wisely whom they will follow.

And then Jesus gives them more to chew on – stating point blank that every person listening is flawed. He says that although they are well aware that they are to follow the law, none of them do. In fact, he states that many were targeting him for murder – and murder is clearly against the Ten Commandments. Today we would say that calling out someone’s sin isn’t a good way to Win Friends and Influence People. People want to be supported, to be honored, to hear how good they are. But sometimes, the truth hurts…and Jesus’ goal was to speak the truth, teaching his listeners, and us, to use their God-given wisdom to each take their own stand in God’s presence.

Verse 28…

20 The crowd replied, “You’re demon possessed! Who’s trying to kill you?”

21 Jesus replied, “I did one miracle on the Sabbath, and you were amazed. 22 But you work on the Sabbath, too, when you obey Moses’ law of circumcision. (Actually, this tradition of circumcision began with the patriarchs, long before the law of Moses.) 23 For if the correct time for circumcising your son falls on the Sabbath, you go ahead and do it so as not to break the law of Moses. So why should you be angry with me for healing a man on the Sabbath? 24 Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.”

Jesus was referring back to his healing of the paralyzed man on the Sabbath a year before. Because of that miracle of healing, the Pharisees and the teachers of the religious law were still plotting Jesus’ death a whole year later. Jesus highlights the hypocrisy of the situation. It was considered lawful to “work” on the Sabbath if the work meant performing a circumcision, but it was UNlawful for Jesus to heal a man on the Sabbath.

I love the sentence… Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.

The murmurs and the speculations continued…

25 Some of the people who lived in Jerusalem started to ask each other, “Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill? 26 But here he is, speaking in public, and they say nothing to him. Could our leaders possibly believe that he is the Messiah? 27 But how could he be? For we know where this man comes from. When the Messiah comes, he will simply appear; no one will know where he comes from.”

Jesus GAVE the people exactly what they needed so they could know exactly who He was. He offered miraculous teachings, healings, and guidance on how to discern truth. But still, they murmured amongst themselves and relied on the speculation of the so-called authorities.

What a lesson for us today! Our world is in peril! Divisions are growing in every sector of society every day. God made you individually. He spent time creating each of our brains, planning out our days, and He provides for each of us and gives us each a mission. Our job as individuals is to ask the questions, to listen for the answers, and to respond in obedience ONLY to God – no matter what He says. Sometimes, when we are standing for God, it will feel like we are standing alone. At those moments, check yourself. And check back in with God, making sure you are hearing Him correctly. He WILL guide you. And you can be assured that when you are following God, you will NEVER by standing alone, because He will always have your back.

Say YES to God! Before you even know what you are saying yes to! He will NEVER lead you astray. People WILL lead you astray, that is for certain, but God will ALWAYS guide you.

Verse 28…

28 While Jesus was teaching in the Temple, he called out, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I come from. But I’m not here on my own. The one who sent me is true, and you don’t know him. 29 But I know him because I come from him, and he sent me to you.” 30 Then the leaders tried to arrest him; but no one laid a hand on him, because his time[b] had not yet come.

31 Many among the crowds at the Temple believed in him. “After all,” they said, “would you expect the Messiah to do more miraculous signs than this man has done?”

Jesus determined to obediently follow God’s call, even when the chips seemed down.

And “many” in the crowd finally got it. They realized, THIS IS the Messiah AFTER they asked the questions and considered the answers. God granted them His wisdom that pointed to the truth.

We all have MANY choices to make in our lives – we make decisions many times a day. The most important choice is who you will follow. You can trust that Jesus IS God. But if you still don’t know, if you still aren’t there, try an experiment. Say a prayer to God – ask Him to show you if He is real, and determine in your heart that you will respond based on His answer. God doesn’t want you to believe in Him in a vacuum. Or just because I said to. Not at all. Jesus wants you to believe in Him based on the brains He put in your head and the evidence that He will give when you ask Him for it.

And if you DO believe in Jesus, you already know what it is like to be obedient to Him. You know the joy and simplicity and power that comes with following His call. God is asking you to take that belief a step further – to intentionally obey Him, and only Him, with each decision you make. He’s asking you to go DIRECTLY to Him and ask who you should support, follow, or trust; what path you should pursue; and when you should speak out for a cause. When you do, Jesus will give you the wisdom to follow the path He has ordained for you. With each decision you are presented, God wants you to decide in advance to faithfully obey Him, then ask Him the questions and listen for His discerning and guiding answer.

Oh…if I sound passionate about this, I am! God has created you to be strong and take a stance many times every day of your life. We are in the middle of a war of good versus evil. Satan is on the prowl, and he seeks to steal, kill, and destroy ANY good that God has accomplished in and through His people. He deceives, he tricks, and he positions even Christians against each other in an effort to get his way and thwart God’s plan. Let’s not let him! Let’s stand together, yes, but let’s EACH be accountable to GOD! THAT is the only way we can truly accomplish His plans!

Let’s pray…

Dear Most Holy God! You are righteous, perfect, and on the throne! We come to you this minute and we come to you every minute of every day, seeking your wisdom. We ask you to guide us and lead us to walk in your will and your way. God, we give you our lives to do with as you will – and we pledge our obedience, to walk and stand tall in obedience to you – no matter what that looks like. We ask for and trust that you will give us your strength and endurance to do ALL that you have called us to do – one, single step at a time! In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.