As an addiction counselor sometimes I challenge my clients on the importance of not screening out the good people that could speak into their lives for superficial reasons. I also ask the tough questions about assumptions they would carry on who could speak into their lives. When they discharge from treatment they could have assumptions about what a sponsor (mentor in the 12 Step movement) is supposed to look like or sound like. I even get resistance as a therapist because I am not in chemical dependence recovery. My degree may not be enough of a parchment for them at least at first.
In ones assumptions about God and how insight of who God is works, we can have even more toxic assumptions with often missed opportunities of even greater assumptions. Such were the religious people of Jesus’ day. In his love for them, ironically, he came to wake them up in the holy week of Tabernacles. Even more ironic is that this day had a context of being dependent on what God had to give in the midst of ones discomfort. It is in ones discomfort that recovery from addiction to drugs, selfishness or anything else really happens. They wanted quick answers on their time and preconceived assumptions. Jesus wanted to treat the whole person and so on he provoked.
When the feast was already half over, Jesus went up into the temple area and began to teach. The Jews were amazed and said, “How does he know scripture without having studied?” Jesus answered them and said, “My teaching is not my own but is from the one who sent me. Whoever chooses to do his will shall know whether my teaching is from God or whether I speak on my own. Whoever speaks on his own seeks his own glory, but whoever seeks the glory of the one who sent him is truthful, and there is no wrong in him. Did not Moses give you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?” The crowd answered, “You are possessed! Who is trying to kill you?” Jesus answered and said to them, “I performed one work and all of you are amazed because of it. Moses gave you circumcision—not that it came from Moses but rather from the patriarchs—and you circumcise a man on the sabbath. If a man can receive circumcision on a sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because I made a whole person well on a sabbath? Stop judging by appearances, but judge justly (John 6:14-24)
Jesus went up into the temple area and began to teach….without having studied?– He went as a rabbi but not through the approved rabbi track. Jesus came out of left field in that he was not from the assumed track of credentials and truly demonstrated a knowledge of scripture. With an approved track Jesus would sound like a certain rabbinical school and could be pegged down on a fast track to “get him” in what he taught. Jesus provides no such luxury.
My teaching is not my own but is from the one who sent me — Jesus did not consider it to be on the table to just come up with good ideas. The world is always full of good ideas that hint on truth for consideration. Hearing can at least be a time for consideration but at some point we decide there is an objective truth and live that way with joy or misery. Jesus spoke what God the Father tells him to say and was the perfect model, though divine, of how humanity is supposed to work in cooperation with the divine.
Whoever chooses to do his will shall know whether my teaching is from God or whether I speak on my own — Recommended reading for what it means to be open to God’s will would be Mark 4 in what is called The Parable of the Sower. In it you will find poor soil is like a non-receptive heart for God’s will due to such things as worries of this life, cares of this world, desire for riches or going to much on hyper-emotionalism. All this is worth considering in ones soul if you are or are considering being a follower of Jesus.
but whoever seeks the glory of the one who sent him is truthful- A recurring theme in the Bible is that the people of God could have a context of seeing God represented in ceremony but deny the power in it, marginalize it and walk away. A redemptive pattern is knowing the list of the context of the kingdom of God, having a humble ear to hear the King behind the kingdom, actively joining into it from the inside and engaging in right praise. A typology that could point to that pattern would be the first four of the sons of Israel: Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah. They mean in that order behold a son, one who hears, attached and praise. That last son being the one that carries on the messianic line to Jesus.
Did not Moses give you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law– Jesus is again a provocateur. He is stirring in the point of reference of being dependent of God where you have to listen to instruction of His will. These leaders are not putting their professing faith into action.
Why are you trying to kill me? — This is an important point where Jesus goes beyond a tit for tat rhythm that they would like and gets to the heart of the matter. There was murmuring mentioned earlier in this chapter that included him misleading the people. That would be grounds for capital punishment in their history for keeping the norms. The dichotomy of love and hate or light and darkness is treated best when it is out in the open. In fact, light is the best disinfectant.
Moses gave you circumcision—not that it came from Moses but rather from the patriarchs– Jesus never wasted a word, so this is more purposeful than what might at first appear. He is pointing out that there supposed deep devotion to Moses’ era is misplaced to a point on attention to legal purity since pre-levitical law with the patriarchs had a righteousness that was holistic. Just as Jesus got deeper into the issue of the present in their malice and now goes deeper to the issues on what their deepest roots are.
are you angry with me because I made a whole person well on a sabbath? – Back to the present and broader. Circumcision which they are obsessed about is one part of the body that participates in the blessings of God’s covenants with his people, whereas Jesus lived out the intentions of salvation as spoke in Greek, sozo, which means really whole.
Stop judging by appearances, but judge justly— Jesus was not hostile to all judging but going by appearances reducing the human person to only science but God is concerned for the whole of the person’s dignity. To have a broader sense of what righteous judgement is, one should look at what the agenda is for righteousness for a person or a people. Isaiah, known by some theologians to be a “proto-gospel” since his writings are known to be heavy in prophecies about the Messiah.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer,
you shall cry for help, and he will say: “Here I am!”
If you remove the yoke from among you,
the accusing finger, and malicious speech;
If you lavish your food on the hungry
and satisfy the afflicted;
Then your light shall rise in the darkness,
and your gloom shall become like midday (Isaiah 58:9-10).
By the end of this week of Tabernacles, Jesus made a dent on all of his hearers whether they liked him or not. A response is a response. But the best response is to call to Jesus when you see him and do whatever he tells you to do just like Mary told the attendants at the wedding at Cana.