John 7: 14-24: Enough to be like the Master.
“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.’ NIV
This passage contains words which say clearly that if someone is a genuine seeker they will find (17). Authentic seeking has at its heart a willingness to change, to obey, to be different. I don’t just want to know about Jesus; I am also prepared to follow Him. And in the doing of God’s Word I find that it is self-authenticating.
Here are a minimum of five things that, being true of Jesus, will also be true of His disciples (John 13;16):
- A disciple will operate on a different timetable (14). Do you remember what Jesus had previously said to his brothers? (6). He marched ”to the beat of a different drummer.” All Jesus’ movements were according to a Divine table. May it be so for you and me. Let God the Father organise your schedule. Allow Him to fill in your diary. Then, like God the Son (and through Him) you can walk in companionship with the Holy Spirit. The world can offer no adventure like this one.
- A disciple will arouse curiosity (15). ”The Jews were impressed, but puzzled: ”How does he know so much without being schooled?” ” The Message. At times a Christ follower will ‘amaze’ others. People will wonder how we can be how we are; how we can do what we do; how we can speak as we speak. We will lives of ‘ever-increasing glory’ (2 Corinthians 3:18) and they will inevitably stand out. There will be a whiff of the supernatural which cannot be naturally explained.
- A disciple will speak Christ’s word (16). The great evangelical Anglican leader, John Stott, wrote a book entitled ‘Our guilty silence.’ There is a danger that in today’s atmosphere we focus on being and doing and not speaking. Now the church certainly must live the gospel. It is right that we should serve others in Jesus’ Name. But we also have a message to communicate. So let’s prayerfully apply our minds to the task – think through how to express the essential truths of the gospel in terms that are relevant and meaningful to our contemporaries. It’s good that people speak about Jesus, but we need to beware that we do not lazily trot out well-worn cliches and incomprehensible jargon. Let’s find fresh ways to speak the timeless and unchanging truths our world so needs to hear. This is not about reinventing the message. We have no right to tinker under the bonnet of truth. But we can be creative in how we say what we need to say.
- A disciple lives for the glory of God (18). He speaks God’s revealed truth whether it makes him popular or not. The response will not sway her, be it positive or negative. But people wanting their own kudos will tailor the message to ensure they get precisely what they want. ”A person making things up tries to make himself look good. But someone trying to honour the one who sent him sticks to the facts and doesn’t tamper with reality.” The Message.
- A disciple can expect to suffer (19, 20). In fact disciples can expect both interest and curiosity on the one hand (15), and profound negativity on the other. Don’t be surprised if you are verbally abused, and even if your life should be in danger. It goes with the territory. Jesus pointed out the hypocritical position of his opponents. They would circumcise someone on the Sabbath day – actually wound them, but for a good purpose. So why were they persecuting him because he had done a good and beneficial thing on the Sabbath day when he healed a man? (John 5:1-16). Don’t be surprised if some of the stuff the world throws at you seems to be irrational and nitpicking. It all came the way of Jesus in the first place.
It is enough for the disciple to be like his Lord.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for your example and your power. I want to be like you.
It is an honour to follow you.
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